by john manzi for the Billings Series
After three exciting divisions in the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series at Pompano Park on April 3rd harness racing’s greatest traveling roadshow moved on to Freehold Raceway on Saturday, April 8 for a contest in the daylight and when that race was completed Bob “the Headhunter” Hechkoff emerged victorious with The Franchise in a time of 2:02.1.
The executive recruiter took advantage of the pole position and hustled his trotter to the lead and they were comfortable in front as the quarter mile timer flashed :29.3. Surprisingly there were two horses in the six-horse field that were hung on the limb and Hechkoff played them like a fisherman plays a big snare keeping them at bay and never letting either gain command.
First-over was BL Class Act and driver “Slate Hill Allen” Sisco with whom Hechkoff played hardball from the get-go. Despite starting from the two-hole Sisco’s charge never saw the pylons and went a gutsy mile finishing in the exact time as the winner when three trotters crossed the finish line just heads apart.
Unfortunately for Sisco and his trotter they were relegated to a third place finish. Brad “Quality Control” Rathbone and Northern Obsession, who were enjoying a two-hole journey, rallied in the passing lane but fell a head short of the winner although a head better than BL Class Act.
“If I didn’t keep Sisco’s trotter on the limb I wouldn’t have won the race,” Hechkoff reasoned after the mile. “Even though BL Class Act never saw the pylons my horse (The Franchise) had all he could do to keep him at bay. I had no other choice.”
The first three finishers in the contest were each clocked in the identical time of 2:02 and fourth place finisher Landonfitz (Dave “Steady As” Yarock) was just two ticks behind the winner.
The Franchise, owned by Hechkoff’s RBH Ventures and trained by Kyle Spagnola, paid $8.20 for win. For Hechkoff, his victory was his 91st of his amateur career which began in 2000 and his second of the 2017 season.