10/09/2010 3:51PM

Bank Merger works hard to prevail in Gallant Bob

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Barbara Weidl/EQUI-PHOTO
Bank Merger, under Stewart Elliott, narrowly outfights Rule by Night to win the Gallant Bob Handicap.

Bank Merger may have been the most lightly raced 3-year-old in Saturday’s $250,000 Gallant Bob Handicap, with just three previous starts under his belt. But he performed like a seasoned veteran in emerging from a four-way battle to score a hard-fought neck victory over Rule by Night in the final major stakes of the season at Parx Racing.

Bank Merger ($5.20), the favorite in a field reduced to six by two scratches, was among four runners on nearly equal terms approaching the quarter pole in the six-furlong sprint.

In the stretch, it turned into a two-horse race with Rule by Night, under Frankie Pennington, taking a half-length lead with a furlong remaining. Bank Merger, ridden by Stewart Elliott for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, refused to give in, however, and put his head in front inside the sixteenth pole and inched his way clear to the wire to register his third win in four starts.

Previously, Bank Merger had finished second while making his stakes debut in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga. He covered the six furlongs of the Gallant Bob in 1:09.31.

Rule by Night, fifth in each of his first two stakes appearances, was 2 ½ lengths ahead of third-place Partyallnightlong. Comedero, a five-time stakes winner in sprints this season, was part of a contested pace, but faded late to finish fourth as the 2-1 second choice.

* Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Roadhog ($8.20), ridden by Pennington for trainer Ned Allard, pulled clear in the stretch to score a two-length win in the $75,000 Alphabet Soup Handicap for Pennsylvania-breds. In winning for the third time in his last four starts, the 3-year-old Roadhog covered 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:47.74.