06/02/2012 6:37PM

Monmouth: The Hunk uses speed to score in John Reilly Handicap

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Bill Denver/Equiphoto
The Hunk, under Carlos Marquez Jr., collects his first stakes victory in the John Reilly Handicap.

OCEANPORT, N.J.- The Hunk overpowered the competition Saturday, beating Hop Skip and Away by 2 1/4 lengths in the $62,800 John J. Reilly Handicap for New Jersey-breds at Monmouth Park.

Trainer Ben Perkins Jr. had been pointing for this spot for a long time, and patience paid off as The Hunk earned his first stakes victory.

The Hunk got on a big roll here last summer, winning three straight allowance races. Perkins took him to Florida, where The Hunk extended the winning streak to four before running fifth in the Grade 3 Mr Prospector Stakes on New Year’s Eve at Gulfstream Park.

At that point, Perkins set his sights squarely on the Reilly, and gave The Hunk the rest of the winter off.

It paid off as The Hunk was humming in his comeback.

Bombast, the 9-5 favorite, broke best from post 11 but it didn’t take long for The Hunk to quickly find his best gear.

Dictating the pace as he usually does here, The Hunk clicked off fractions of 22.14 and 45.22  seconds with Carlos Marquez Jr. firmly holding the reins.

Bombast took a run at the leader on the turn but was decisively rebuffed.

Hop Skip and Away, third in this race last year, came on to get second with Bombast settling for the show spot

“He was running against some good horses down in Gulfstream,” Marquez said. “He’s been training well. The plan was to go to the front and see how far he could carry it.”

Perkins appeared relieved. He was worried about the layoff, and the top weight assignment of 123 pounds.

“Off the layoff, you always think maybe you need another work,” Perkins said. “He’s pretty strong. It was a lot of weight for him today, too. That was a concern.”

The Hunk paid $7.20 to win as the second choice in the wagering. The time was 1:10.23 for six furlongs on a fast track.