08/24/2001 11:00PM

Woodbine: Mr. Epperson beats Heliotrope

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Mr. Epperson turned back a stretch bid from favorite Heliotrope to win the Grade 3 $146,000 Play the King Handicap at Woodbine Saturday.

Mr. Epperson vied up front with Hunter Todd through moderate fractions in the seven-furlong dash for older runners. Heliotrope stalked the pace on the turn and drew even with Mr. Epperson in midstretch, but Mr. Epperson prevailed by three-quarters of a length. Alea Iacta Est rallied wide to end up a neck back in third, while Dawson's Legacy finished fourth in the 12-horse field. Wake at Noon was scratched. The final time was 1:21.84.

Mr. Epperson, who won the Grade 2 Nearctic Handicap here June 24, returned $12.60. He earned $87,600 for trainer Scott Fairlie and partners.