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Tough customer at MR

April 04, 2007
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Tough Customer proved to be just that after driver Eric Goodell took advantage of a speedy first half to pace around the leaders and then rebuff all challenges en route to a stunning 1:54.2 triumph over a fast-closing Starfire (Greg Merton) to win Monticello Raceway\'s $14,300 Preferred Pace Tuesday afternoon.

With only marginal support by the bettors—he was sent off at odds of over 8-1—Tough Customer’s victory was the fastest clocking thus far this season at the Mighty M

Goodell, who has had a hot hand of late, took his pacer off the gate at the start which turned out to be a huge advantage when a speed duel developed between Top Flight (Jimmy Devaux) and Spongbobsquarepants, driven by Jordan “the Kid” Stratton.

With Devaux on the inside and Stratton on the outside their pacers raced neck and neck by the quarter in :27 and past the half-mile marker in :55.2. Before that point Goodell was out and going with Tough Customer and the 7-year-old Artsplace gelding looped the leaders and drew off to open lengths as he passed the third stanza in 1:25.1.

Goodell knew it would be a long way to the wire when a then leg weary Tough Customer rounded the final turn but the pacer gritted it out and rebuffed a late rally from Starfire and driver Greg Merton to hold on for a head triumph in the 1:54.2 clocking.

How Forever Feels ( Billy “Zeke” Parker Jr.) came from fifth at the three quarters to finish third two lengths behind the first two across the wire.

It marked the third victory of the season for Tough Customer who is owned by Gary Teckler of Lakeland Fla. and trained by Peggy Cardassi. He paid $18.60; $5.10 and $4.10 across the board.

Goodell had three other fast rides that afternoon including a 1:55 triumph behind Hawaiian Hunk in the $30,000 claiming pace.

After they started from post position seven Goodell took Hawaiian Hunk of the gate and was some nine lengths behind the leader when Kaa Dee Herman (Stephane Bouchard) led the field by the quarter-mile marker in :27.

Around the second turn Goodell got his pacer into the flow and was third-over as the field passed the half in :57.3. When the pacers neared the three quarters Goodell wheeled Hawaiian Hunk three deep and they paced around the traffic and settled in behind Kaa Dee Herman in the final turn.

At the top of the lane Hawaiian Hunk began to gain on the leader but it wasn’t until the final strides that the 5-year-old Jenna’s Beach Boy gelding stuck his head in front to register his fourth victory of the season.

Owned by Kim Asher and Michael Sorentino and trained by Asher, Hawaiian Hunk returned a $7.50 win mutuel.

Goodell reined two other winners on the card. He also scored behind Amber Fella (1:57) in the first race and then won the fourth with Hothornman in 1:57.3. (Monticello)
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