06/01/2013 5:50PM

Monmouth Park: Hop Skip and Away, Pierce whip youngsters in John J. Reilly

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
Pedro Cotto Jr. guides 8-year-old Hop Skip and Away to a wire-to-wire victory in the John J. Reilly for 85-year-old owner-trainer Joe Pierce Jr.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Hop Skip and Away won the $61,800 John J. Reilly Handicap on Saturday in a triumph for two of Monmouth Park’s grand old men.

The 8-year-old gelding, the oldest member of the seven-horse field of New Jersey-breds, finally won the Reilly on his fourth try. He hit the board in each of the last three editions.

It was also rewarding moment for trainer and co-owner Joe Pierce Jr. At 85 years young, Pierce is the senior trainer on the Monmouth backstretch.

Pierce doesn’t have the horsepower of the past, now conditioning only five runners. There’s nothing like a stakes winner in the barn to keep a spring in your step.

Hop Skip and Away dominated his younger rivals, emerging with the lead after an early scramble. He was a wrapped-up winner by 2 3/4 lengths over Chief Carlson with Pedro Cotto Jr. aboard.

“When I saw him on the lead, I was screaming, ‘What are you doing?’" said Pierce. "I told Pedro in the paddock to use his judgment, but I didn’t expect that. Pedro’s judgment sure worked out, though."

Hop Skip and Away paid $21 to win for the upset score, his 10th win in 57 starts. The time was 1:09.81 for the six furlongs.

Bombast was third followed by Arlo and Final Forest. Voodoo Charm pulled up at the top of lane and was vanned off. All of the Above was eased on the turn and walked off as the 7-5 favorite