‘Hefner’ hot to trot

New York Daily News - - NEWS - Larry McShane

ONE DAY af­ter Hugh Hefner reached the fin­ish line, so did his name­sake horse.

Hugh Hefner N, a 9-year-old pacer that shares the late Play­boy founder’s name, fin­ished first in an un­likely Yonkers Race­way min­gling of life and death Thurs­day night.

Hefner, 91, passed away Wed­nes­day of nat­u­ral causes at the Play­boy Man­sion in Bev­erly Hills.

The New Zea­land-bred won by a neck the next evening af­ter a late charge in the 1-mile race, much to the de­light of rail­birds who made Hefner the horse a 6-5 fa­vorite. The pacer paid $4.60 to win.

“Some peo­ple came down to the win­ner’s cir­cle, say­ing how ironic it was,” said win­ning driver Ja­son Bartlett,“I’ve won some pretty big races, but just the way this came about — it was meant to be. “Some things you can’t con­trol. It was meant to be.”

Bartlett, 36, said the horse was ac­tu­ally en­tered five days be­fore Hefner died. A fin­ish-line photo showed a beam­ing Bartlett, win­ner of more than 7,000 ca­reer races, smil­ing up at the stands.

The one bit of bad news in the quirky track tale: This Hugh Hefner won’t re­tire as a stud — the son of Fal­con Seel­ster is a geld­ing. “Some­how doesn’t seem right,” cracked Yonkers pub­lic­ity di­rec­tor Frank Drucker.

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