Cruizin K C, deftly handled by Mark O'Mara, edged by a stubborn Northern Companion (Dave Ingraham) turning for home and then held off the late surging Cartoonist (Bruce Ranger) to eke out a narrow win over the latter in 1:51.4 in Pompano Park's $10,000 Open Handicap Pace on Saturday night. Northern Companion was a clear third at the end of the mile, while Premier, pacing the fastest final quarter of the group--:27.1--finished fourth. Ideal Choice picked up the remaining minor prize in the septet.
Cruizin K C, a six year-old altered son of Mach Three, owned by Lester Raber, came from sixth mid-way through the mile and paced his final 1/2 in :54.1 to earn a neck decision for his second win of the year in six starts, sending his seasonal bankroll to $15,400 and $123,743 lifetime.
With Northern Companion using uncharacteristic strategy and on the engine from the get-go clocking opening panels of :26.2 and :56.1, Cruizin K C was forced to pace in his third quarter in :26.3 just to get into the hunt around the final turn and these two arch rivals went stride for stride past the third station in 1:24 and until mid-stretch when "K C" edged to the front, only to get a scare from the 28 to 1 outsider Cartoonist coming to the line.
In a post race interview, driver Mark O'Mara said, "It was tight all the way around...I mean at the wire and in the deep stretch...We rubbed iron a little bit with Bruce's horse (Cartoonist)--just incidental stuff. His horse (Cartoonist) proved he belongs. He went a big mile…but so did Cruizin. K C. When I give him racetrack, he can really gather up some steam…and he needed all of it tonight!"
As the even money favorite on the tote-board--but actually 11 to 10--Cruizin K C paid $4.20 to win.