HP Forte, the seemingly weaker half of the Mark O'Mara-trained but uncoupled entry, pulled off a 13-1 upset in the $11,000 Open Trot at Pompano Park on Wednesday night in 1:55.2.
The 9-year-old son of Muscles Yankee got a picture-perfect journey from O'Mara and pulled away in the stretch to score a victory measuring 2 1/4 lengths over the 41-1 chance Tug River Dylan, driven by Stephane Lareau, with She's All In and Rick Plano teaming up to finish third, just a nostril back of Tug River Dylan. Keystone Thomas, who assumed the top spot right at the :27.4 opener, was fourth after carving additional panels of :57.1 and 1:26. Stonebridge Idol came from last halfway through the mile to pick up the nickel in the field of nine.
Jolene's Pinehonker, the even money favorite deemed to be the stronger part of the O'Mara entry, couldn't conquer the track dampened by afternoon long rains and finished eighth afrer spotting the field several lengths at the start from the second tier 10 post, although he did wend his way up to fifth while "double-bubbled" three-eighths out through the final turn before faltering.
In a post-race interview, driver Mark O'Mara said, "HP likes this kind of a trip. You know, last week I sent him to the top before the half and he didn't seem to like that strategy one bit. In fact, he spit his (bit) out turning for home. This week, I said to myself that I wasn't 'going to make the same mistake. He was relaxed and in perfect position (third) until the final turn and then I tipped him and he responded. It was a great journey for the both of us!"
The victory was the second in five starts this year for HP Forte and sent his seasonal earnings to $12,300 for O'Mara, who co-owns along with Paul Johnson and Melvin Schmucker. He's banked $171,369 lifetime. (Pompano Park)