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Marshall Concludes Driving Career

Published: December 19, 2020 5:52 pm ET

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For more than four decades, the driving colony at Freehold Raceway has included "Diamond Jim" Marshall III. That era came to an end on Saturday, but not before Marshall notched one more victory.

Marshall won his 3,820th race in his penultimate drive. He put Rancousy on the lead early on, and never gave it up, holding for a half-length win in the afternoon's 10th race. The winner is owned by Barbara Bongiorno and John Papadakis, and trained by Robert Bongiorno.

Jim Marshall III and Rancousy

Following the race, Marshall was honoured with a ceremony on the track, where he was presented with a ceremonial mug. Jim's wife, Donna, a trainer, and his son, Jim IV, a driver, were present.

His final drive came in the 11th race on Nobles Finesse for trainer Paul Fusco. He encountered traffic trouble, and ended up fifth.

Marshall won his first race in 1977, guiding Governor Duke to victory at Freehold. His more than 33,000 drives have earned more than $25 million.

When not driving at Freehold, Marshall serves as the assistant starter at The Meadowlands. In February, he'll begin serving as a judge at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.


Bob Hechkoff learned long ago that if a driver has the best horse in the race there's only one place to be and that is on the front end. And that's exactly where the veteran amateur driver put Boots N Chains in the $9,000 American Harness Drivers Club Trot at Freehold Raceway on Saturday afternoon and the eight-year-old trotter made every pole a winning one en route to a 2:01.1 victory.

After starting from the post five, Hechkoff sent his charge to the lead and they had two lengths on their competition as they trotted by the first stanza in :29.1. Still comfortably in front as the field headed to the halfway point, Paul Minore moved If I Must off the pylons and up to challenge. Boots N Chains rebuffed his rival and he still had command.

When the leaders trotted by the three-quarters they were still one-two. On the final turn If I Must struggled and 18-1 shot Can Do, driven by Joe Lee, took up the chase and they trotted alongside the leader at the top of the stretch but Boots N Chains rebuffed the challenge and held strong all the way to the wire winning by a neck over Can Do. Two lengths in the rears garnering the show dough was Dark Pool, driven by Dawn Anderson.

Trained by Kyle Spagnola for Hechkoff, Boots N Chains won for the fifth time this season and boosted his 2020 earnings over the $46,000 mark. For the winning driver, Bob Hechkoff, it was his 105th driving victory.

Live harness racing resumes at Freehold next Saturday (December 26), starting at 12:30 p.m.

(Freehold / AHDC)

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