WILKES-BARRE PA – On the C.K.G. Billings circuit Bob Hechkoff may be known as “The Headhunter,” but at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday night he was known as the longshot player’s best friend after guiding the Andover Hall gelding Five Towns to a $63.20 shocking victory in the $15,000 Billings #2 Eastern Sector Final.
“Smokin’ Joe” Faraldo was certainly smokin’ out of the gate with Tough Get Going, leaving from the rail in :27.4 to put the field in behind, then backing off the half to 1:00.1. The price of trotting went up down the backstretch as Steve “You’re Never Too” Oldford moved up with favored Starsaboveallerage behind Super Manning and “Joltin’” Joe Pennacchio’s uncovered bid to the 1:29.3 three-quarters. Tough Get Going and Faraldo shook off the first-over, but Hechkoff, who had guided Five Towns into the two-hole early, rallied his veteran winner of $425,264 to go by Tough Get Going and Faraldo by ¾ of a length, with Oldford and Starsaboveallerage third, and the entire field of eight competitively and commendably separated by less than five lengths at the wire.
In a $17,500 conditioned trot, Muscle M Up parlayed a second-over trip into a half-length victory over Prairie Fortune, who quarter-moved and set most of a fast pace, in a swift 1:53. Matt Kakaley handled the driving duty for trainer Åke Svanstedt and Knutsson Trotting Inc.