Driver Profile: Wally Hennessey
Walter J. (Wally) Hennessey is considered one of the elite horsemen in our sport, and we are lucky enough to have him showcase his craft here at Isle Casino® Racing Pompano Park. In just the past decade, Hennessey has driven no less than 19 Florida Bred horses to victory on our Super Nights, including the recent 2015 crowned champions Gleneagles and Gold Star Briana. But he has been a superstar in the sport long before now. Let’s take a look back at his glowing career.
The First Races
Born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, Hennessey received his "education" about horses from his father and won his first race in 1976 in the Maritimes, where he rewrote the record books for “dash” winnings in 1983 and even strayed outside of the Maritimes to win the Canadian Ice Racing Classic--yes, it is conducted on the frozen Canadian lakes in the depths of the winter months--and then, straying even further, south of the border to continue his career in New York and, finally, nationally, where he has won many of the sport's premiere events such as the:
- Woodrow Wilson Pace
- The Kentucky Futurity
- Hambletonian Oaks
- The Nat Ray
- And several Breeders Crown events.
Hennessey's greatest success came with the trotter Moni Maker, one of the greatest Standardbreds in history that, when retired, was the richest Standardbred in the 200 year history of our sport--$5,589,256 and the richest female racehorse of ANY breed. His success with Moni Maker came on "both sides of the Atlantic" as this great mare had vast success in Europe, as well as North America.
Settling Down in South Florida
Hennessey came to South Florida in the mid-1980s and has enjoyed great success, as well a great reputation as the consummate horseman.
From 1990 until the present, Hennessey has driven the winners of over $1,000,000 every year and has won 200 or more races in 25 of the past 26 years, including 2015, when he recently earned his 200th victory.
His influence here at Pompano Park is unparalleled as evidenced by his driving record on our Super Nights, annually conducted on behalf of the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association.
Now a Staple of the Sport
Four decades since his first race, Hennessey has amassed well over 8,800 driving victories and over $60,000,000 for the benefit of the owners and trainers who have entrusted him to drive their horses… and he’s still going strong.
When asked about the secret to his success, Hennessey was quick to reply, "My dad taught me that it's very tough to climb to the top of the mountain...and very easy to fall off. And THAT is the secret to my success--plain, old hard work!" You can see him live, continuing his hard work, at our racetrack at Pompano Park… don’t miss seeing Wally in action!