Premier, hot property recently at Pompano Park while changing hands by claim in his last two starts, captured the final of the $18,200 Murdock Hanover Late Closer at the south-Florida five-eighths mile oval on Saturday night, wiring his opponents with a lifetime best equalling performance of 1:51.3.
Driven by Rick Plano for wife-owner Maryann Plano, the seven year-old son of Artsplace carved out panels of :26.3, :55.1 and 1:23.1 and sealed the deal with a :28.2 finale, pinning a two length defeat on the 4 to 5 public choice, Just Fred, driven by George Napolitano, Jr.
Trevor Win For Us teamed up with Ricky Macomber, Jr. to finish third while Artomatic Pilot overcame the nine post to finish fourth. Itchy Pickle's paced the fastest final quarter in the field, :28.1, to earn the final award after being shuffled far back turning for home in then field of nine.
The victory--Premier's biggest career payday--was his 29th and sent his lifetime bounty to $136,343.
In a post race interview, driver Plano said, "…this is just a solid, hard trying racehorse. A few starts ago, he beat me in (1):51 and a piece in a '15' claimer so, when the opportunity to get him for a little less came along, I decided to grab him. He loves the front end and that's where I put him right from the get-go. He was sharp as a tack tonight!"
As second choice in the betting, Premier paid $7.20 to win.
In the $10,000 Open Pace, B N Bad, handled by George Napolitano, Jr., just did hang on by a scant nostril to eke out the decision over Southern Sport (Joe Pavia, Jr.) in 1:50.3, a new lifetime mark considering his other 1:50.3 winning mile came over the one mile Meadowlands oval.
Northern Companion (Dave Ingraham) was third while the even money favorite, Eastend Eddie, pacing his final 3/4s in 1:22.3, finished fourth in his first start back off of a 10 week layoff and a qualifier.
Lyons Johnny picked up the nickel in the field of seven.
For B N Bad, trained by Pete Pellegrino for the Baron Racing Stable, it was his 25th lifetime success, sending his career bankroll to $360,273.
Finally, brackets were drawn for Pompano Park's $20,000 Driver's Invitational Championship, which starts February 9th and concludes with a March 15 Championship final.
The competition, offering an $8,000 prize to the winner, pits Dave Ingraham (6,515 lifetime wins) against Rick Plano (6,339) in round one. the winner of that bracket will go on to face the winner of a Bruce Ranger (8,639)-John MacDonald (2,765) matchup on February 10.
Other opening round events pit Joe Pavia, Jr. (5,238) versus Simon Allard (2,057); Ricky Macomber, Jr. (2,496) against Kevin Wallis (9,653); Ed Hensley (5,196) against Jason Dillander (2,156) and Wally Hennessey (8,497) versus Mickey McNichol (4,540).
Points will be awarded on a 10-7-5-3-1 basis with the "terrific 12" narrowed down to the "sensational six" before being pared to the "thrilling three" seeking the championship.