Sports Outside the Beltway

Harness horse driver Wally Hennessey gets his 7000th career win

The Hall of Fame driver has won at least 200 races for 17 straight years. From

Hall of Famer Wally Hennessey became the 22nd driver in harness racing history to reach the 7,000-win plateau on Wednesday when guiding Blessed Victory through the wire first in the 11th race at Pompano Park.

Starting from post nine in the non-winners trot, Blessed Victory led every step of the way en route to a seven-length triumph, covering the mile in 1:58.2 to give Hennessey his landmark victory.

“Any time you can reach a milestone like this, it’s an accomplishment,” Hennessey said from the Pompano winner’s circle following his winning drive. “I’ve had many opportunities from a lot of good people, and you don’t stand here with 7,000 races won having done it alone.”

A native of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and born to a family rich in the tradition of Standardbred racing, Hennessey was a dominant driver in the Maritimes throughout the early stages of his career, becoming the youngest driver to win the Maritime driving championship when tallying 136 victories in 1981, returning to claim the title again in 1982 and 1983 before leaving the comforts of home to ply his trade south of the border.

“I used to take some trips down to Pompano Park in the early ’80s,” Hennessey recalled. “I would dream of driving down here, even if it was for just one race. Then, in 1986, I decided to make the jump and give it a try. I’ve been very fortunate to do as well as I have, and many of my wins have come at this track.”

Inducted to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., in July 2007, Hennessey is also a member of the Prince Edward Island and Florida Sports Hall of Fame, and will forever be linked with the illustrious career of Moni Maker, who he drove to victory across North America, along with a triumph in the Elitlopp in Sweden.

After finishing 2007 with 274 wins to mark the 19th consecutive season that the 52-year-old horseman has won at least 200 races, Hennessey has no intentions of slowing down.

I saw Wally drive when at Pompano Park when I used to go to the races there with my father. 52 years of age is still quite young for a harness drive. Wally could be driving and or training for another 20-25 years easy.

It isn’t three months since Joe Hennessey, Wally’s father, passed away. I’m sure Joe is proud of what his son has accomplished.

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