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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The finish couldn’t have been any tighter and with one final surge, Abs So Hard won the inaugural running of the $10,000 Howl-O-Ween Stakes on Monday afternoon at Derby Lane. It was the first stakes victory for Abs So Hard and first at St.Petersburg for Tri-State kennel owner Lonnie Boyle, whose operation joined the track roster on July 1. Abs So Hard, who holds the meet’s best 550-yard clocking at 30.23 seconds, overcame a wide trip to defeat Hallo French Gig of Pauline O’Donnell kennel by a nose in 30.86 seconds. Trained by Michael Klingbeil for owner John Melillo, Abs So Hard rounded the first turn in fourth place while running in the 4-path and moved into third entering the final turn. The pace-setting Hallo French Gig went a bit wide in the stretch, allowing Abs So Hard to move inside for his decisive charge.

It took more than two minutes for the result of the tight photo to be posted on the tote board. Abs So Hard, the third wagering choice, paid $10.60 to win. First place was worth $4,500. Get A Cab was third, followed by LK’s Crazee Boyz, Waubun Apollo, Slatex Prince, 5-2 favorite PJ Backupoffme and HKF Bullet.

Abs So Hard, a 39-month-old male from a litter by Bella Infrared and Abilene Abby, won for the 20th time from 88 lifetime starts. It was his fifth stakes race, and second trip to the finals. In January, he finished fifth in the $8,000 Inaugural Stakes.

Don Jensen

I have been a sports writer in the newspaper industry for 40 years: working in Florida, Maryland and Virginia. I moved to Florida in 1984 after serving as the publicity director of Charles Town Race Track, a thoroughbred facility in West Virginia. I reside in Tampa, Fla., and cover the Tampa Bay area parimutuel scene – both greyhounds and thoroughbreds – and write about high school sports for the Tampa Bay Times.