LAUREL, MD. 02-21-09---The others handed the race to Hello Poochi Pooh on a silver platter when they let her gallop to an uncontested lead in the $50,000 Maryland Racing Media Handicap at Laurel Park.

Sent to post as the overwhelming 3-5 favorite and lone speed in the field of five fillies and mares, Hello Poochi Pooh clicked off fractions of 25.30, 50.23 and 1:14.73 on her way to a final time of 1:51.78 for the nine furlong distance. Peachy Kiss finished second, 2-3/4 lengths behind the winner. Clara’s Song was third. The winner, under jockey Erick Rodriguez, paid $3.20.

Owner-trainer John Alecci purchased the daughter of Halos and Horns, who raced in South Florida during her two and three year old campaigns last fall. She finished second in her Maryland debut the day after Christmas, beaten a head, then won an allowance seven-furlong sprint by 9 1/2 lengths on January 16.

“Erick did what he had to do and the horse did the rest,” Alecci said. “I thought she could win an allowance race up here and I chased her for two races down there before the owner decided to sell her. My exercise rider (Kaymarie Kreidel) kept saying she’s better the farther she goes. I wasn’t going to enter her in this spot if there was a lot of speed but we took a shot.”

“I knew it was going to be slow,” added Rodriguez. “I was thinking 24 (seconds) and when it went 25 and change it was over. On the backside I had a hold but at the three-eighths pole I turned her loose and had a lot of horse.”

Prior to the race, the Maryland Racing Media Association honored Heros Reward as the 2008 Maryland-based Horse of the Year. Trained by Dale Capuano and based at Laurel Park, the son of Partner’s Hero won or placed in five stakes in seven starts last year, including a repeat victory in the Old Mutual Turf Sprint Stakes at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard. He finished a solid fifth in the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint just two and a quarter lengths behind winner Desert Code. Heros Reward ranks 20th on the all-time Maryland-bred money winners list with lifetime earnings of $911,216.