Pompano Beach, FL --- Raji's Blue Line, skillfully handled by Mike Micallef, took top honors in Pompano Park's $12,500 Open Pace on Saturday night (Feb. 21), eking out a photo finish win in a race where two lengths separated the entire field at the finish.
The 7-year-old son of Artiscape, owned by Lew and Kathleen Whitaker along with W.B. Schopf, made a bold move first-up on the backside from fifth and, after grinding to the front turning for home, held off the ground saving P L Hellcat, driven by Dan Clements, to win by a neck in 1:51.4.
Fancyfreeshark, with Bruce Ranger in the bike, finished a half-length away in third after cutting panels of :26.4, :55 and 1:22.4 along the way.
Lyons Johnny, in the garden spot most of the journey, finished fourth with Dont Tell Rusty next in the sextet, just 1-1/2 lengths off the winner after pacing the fastest final quarter in the race.
In a post race interview, driver Mike Micallef said, "Last week, the winner (Duc Dorleans) got away with a soft half (:56) and was able to get home in :55.3. This time, I thought I had nothing to lose by letting Raji's Blue Line have the track and let him go. He does have a strong brush and can sustain it for a good, long time. He did exactly that tonight and he was very game to the wire.
"Dan's horse (P L Hellcat) went a big mile and benefitted by saving all the ground sneaking through on the inside. Gotta give him credit, too."
For Raji's Blue Line, it was his second success of the season in six starts and his 2-2-1 scorecard now shows $18,750. He's banked $ 193,450 lifetime.
As fourth choice on the tote-board, Raji's Blue Line rewarded his faithful with a $10.20 win mutuel.
The co-feature on the card was the $10,000 conditioned pace and that went to Luca Derrico's Cadillac Phil in 1:51.3. This 5-year-old son of Shanghai Phil, finally escaping the top open company, took command for George Napolitano, Jr. right at the opening marker in :27.1, got to the half in a rated :56.1 and then sprinted home in :55.2 to hold off a determined Heart Felt (Rick Plano) by a neck. Hillybilly (Bruce Ranger) finished third after threatening around the final turn while Shamderock finished fourth. Always N The Money picked up the nickel in the octet.
Cadillac Phil won for the second time this season in seven starts to send his 2015 earnings to $16,525. Lifetime, he's banked $166,580.
As the 3 to 5 chalk, Cadillac Phil paid $3.40 to win.
Finally, the second leg of the Midnite Hardy Late Closer went to M G Home Run, smartly driven by Joe Sanzeri. This 8-year-old some of Astreos, owned by the J L Benson Stables, found a seam along the pylons in deep stretch to score a half-length win over the late flying First Impression (Bruce Ranger) in 1:54.3. Whata Hooligan (Peter Wrenn) finished third while Cascata and pacesetter Tivoli Hanover picked up the final awards in the field of nine in a dead-heat for fourth.
While it was the initial success of the year for M G Home Run in seven starts, the game gelding scored his 36th lifetime win, sending his career bounty to $213,799.
As co-third choice in the betting, M G Home Run paid $11.20 to win.
After the event, M G Home was claimed for the third time during the past month, this time going to trainer Randy Bickmore for owner Emory Pellitier.