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Dont Tell Rusty In Another Open Thriller

Published: February 1, 2015 12:05 am ET

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Pompano Park's Saturday night program included the finals of two late closing events, an Open Handicap Pace, the second leg of the Murdock Hanover later closer and a Super Hi-5 with a huge carryover of over $87,000.

The Murdock Hanover -- honouring one of the first 2:00 performers in Pompano Park history during its infancy -- went to Nine Innings, a 36-1 outsider driven by Aaron Byron, that one sweeping three-wide around the final bend and nailing the pacesetting Fearless Chip (Matt Romano) in the last stride to record a 1:53.1 victory. Bold Willie (Wally Hennessey) finished third while M G Home Run and Ring Leda picked up the two remaining cheques.

Trained by Gaston Lareau for the J P Houle Stables, Nine Innings was unhurried early as Fearless Chip recorded opening panels of :27.1 and :56. On the backside, Byron caught some love cover and tilted three-deep just after they reached the third station in 1:23.2 and kept gnawing away until nailing the win in the final stride.

Nine Innings, a nine-year-old son of Bettors Delight, won for the 30th time during his career with the victory worth $4,000 to his owner and $74.20 -- certainly a bettor's delight -- to his faithful followers. He's banked $217,581 lifetime.

Next on the card was the $13,500 Open Handicap Pace, which, last week, ended in a dead-heat between Dont Tell Rusty and Thatll Be The Rei. This week, the margin was a scant nose with Dont Tell Rusty, driven by Kevin Wallis, also up in the very last stride to score a 1:51.2 decision over the stubborn Lyons Johnny, handled by George Napolitano Jr. Duc Dorleans finished third for Donald Dupont while Pontiac Luck finished fourth. Shanderock picked up the "nickel" in the septet.

At the outset, a war developed between Duc Dorleans and Lyons Johnny, with "Johnny" extremely hard pressed to stick a head in front at the opening marker in :26.4. Finally clearing after three-eighths of a mile, Lyons Johnny was forced into a half in :54.3 and then on the backside, the leader was involved in another war, this one with Dont Tell Rusty. Turning for home, it looked as though Lyons Johnny edged clear, but Dont Tell Rusty kept digging away, eking out the victory by the narrowest of noses.

After the race, Wallis related, "To tell you the truth, I didn't know who won. We were both going as much as we could go. You have to give both of these horses credit. Nap's [George Napolitano] horse [Lyons Johnny] was dead game, especially after the opening stages. And my horse was terrific, too. He just has a great will about him!"

Trained by Paul Holzman for owner Melvin Fink, Dont Tell Rusty earned his second win of the year in five starts with this success pushing his lifetime bounty over the $100,000 mark--$106,386 to be exact.

Third choice in the betting, Dont Tell Rusty paid $8.40 to his faithful.

The $18,000 Baron Lancer Final went, as expected, to Coopers Beach, driven by Rick Plano. This six-year-old son of Western Ideal, kept his 2015 perfect in tact -- now four-for-four -- with a wire-to-wire win in 1:51.3 measuring just short of three lengths over Major Stone, driven by Jason Dillander. Remission Of Sins was third for Wally Hennessey while Attack Modes Billy and St Pete Star picked up the minors.

In a post race interview, Plano said, "I'll tell ya, I really liked the way he had been racing the past few weeks so we claimed him last week. He was just an "8" [claimer] a few weeks ago -- we claimed him for twice that -- and he justified our confidence. He raced giant tonight. I hope he keeps going!"

Now owned by John Darrah along with Lawrence Keethe, Coopers Beach now has lifetime bounty of $147,996 -- $23,500 of that in the first month of the new year.

Even-money on the toteboard, Coopers Beach paid $4.00 to win.

In a milestone event for driver Steve Oldford, South Jersey Hey, formerly owned by the Oldford Stable but claimed last week by Susan Oakes, won the final of the Florida Amateur Club Late Closer, giving Oldford his 100th career driving win.

Laying off the exceptionally hot pace -- :28 and :56.3 -- set by perennial front-stepper Prairie Big John, Oldford sent his charge on a mission on the backstretch, wearing down the leader turning for home and then sprinting away in the final stages for a four and three-quarter length victory over Explosive Muscles, also given a superb drive by Teddy Bowman from the outside nine post. Jam And Jelly finished third for "Sky" Walker while VTs Gold Key and American Empress also picked up awards in the field of nine.

Now trained by Chris Oakes, South Jersey Hey paid immediate dividends this night, with the biggest chunk of the $10,500 purse sending his 2015 bankroll to $10,250 in three starts and lifetime earnings to $67,746.

After the event, a jubilant Oldford said, "You know, it was great that Chris [trainer Oakes] allowed me to get my milestone victory with 'Hey.' On the other hand, nobody knows this one better than I, so it was kind of great for both of us!"

The winner was 1-5 on the toteboard and paid $2.60 to win.

Finally, the Super Hi-5 had multiple consolation winners again on Saturday night with the jackpot now over $90,000 going into the Monday night racing program, which begins at 7:30 p.m.

(With files from Pompano Park)

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