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‘Rocketman’ Wins Monteleone Memorial

Published: March 12, 2018 11:48 am ET

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Dees Rocketman, smartly driven by Andy Santeramo, pulled off a 13-1 upset victory in the $30,000 final of the Fred Monteleone Memorial, which was held at Pompano Park on Sunday night (March 11).

The six-year-old ridgling son of Rock N Roll Heaven covered the extended distance in 2:21.3. He pinned a three and a quarter-length defeat on track record holder Panocchio, handled by Wally Hennessey. Doo Wop Hanover, with Tony Kerwood in the bike, finished third, while Hollywood Sign A finished fourth. Drachan Hanover was fifth and earned the final award in the very classy octet.

The task appeared to be a steep one for Dees Rocketman heading into the race because, first, the draw put him in the outside post position in a field of stellar performers whose career bankrolls exceeded $3 million, and, second, Dees Rocketman was the ‘poorest’ one coming in with $143,997.

That didn't matter to the confident Santeramo, who came into the action as the second leading winning percentage driver at Pompano Park with 54 wins in 227 starts.

As he said prior to the race, "You never know, in this game, what is going to transpire on the track. When that gate opens, you have to make decisions and, with the outside post, my decision will depend on what the others do. I'm certainly not going to bang heads early with them in a longer race. So, we'll see what happens."

From the opening bell, the action was swift. Rockys Z Tam left alertly from the rail; Hollywood Sign was on the engine from Post 5; and Uncomprmising Z Tam was eager leaving, as well, which left the favoured Panocchio fourth – but not for long.

After an opening panel in :27.3, Panocchio went in search of the top spot, and, after a half in :57.1, secured – again, but not for long.

The pace quickened on the backside, as Hollywood Sign A went on a second speed binge. He took command past the third station in a picked-up 1:24.4.

Through all of this, Santeramo played the waiting game early before catching live cover, first, third over, them second over around the final bend with the mile timed in 1:52.2.

Tipping three wide turning for home, Dees Rocketman was in the highest of gears. He mowed down his foes one-by-one and then drew clear in the final stages.

Dees Rocketman, driven by Andy Santeramo, captured the $30,000 final of the Monteleone Memorial at Pompano Park on Sunday night (Skip Smith)

After the race, Santeramo said, "Like I said, you never know what is going to happen on the track. They were all banging heads early, I caught live cover, the flow brought us into contention and, because Mickey (trainer McNichol) has this horse so sharp, he saved the best for last. When I tipped him, he responded and I thought to myself, 'it's all over.' That's how strong he felt when I tipped him. To beat a field like this is, well, it's unbelievable, because this was a very classy group."

For Dees Rocketman, it was his sixth win from nine starts this year, good for $39,735. And, although he's still the ‘poorest’ of his group in lifetime earnings – now at $158,997 – he's the richest of the group this year for owner Joseph Martinelli Sr.

Off as fifth choice in the wagering, Dees Rocketman paid $29.40 to win.

The $15,000 Open II, carded at the same distance of one and a quarter miles, went to The Onlyest One, driven by Wally Hennessey, in 2:22.3.

Pompano racing will continue on Monday night. The Super Hi-5 jackpot has ballooned to $18,213.

Post time for the card is set for 7:20 p.m.

(With files from Pompano Park)

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