Panocchio, the grand five-year-old son of No Pan Intended, stretched his winning streak to four in the $11,000 Open Handicap Pace on Saturday night at Pompano Park, covering the mile in 1:49.4 for driver Dan Clements.
Owned by Emile Johnson Jr. along with trainer Jim Mattison, Panocchio beat a very classy field numbering six by skimming the pylons turning for home and pushing past the stubborn Bandolito (Kevin Wallis) to score by one length. Alexas Jackpot (Steve Condren) finished third, four lengths away, while Lyons Johnny finished fourth and Archetto Hanover was fifth.
At the outset, it was Bandolito, leaving from post five, bursting off the Hummer Starting Gate and into the lead with Panocchio, beginning one post further out, on the move and wending his way into second around the opening turn, with Alexas Jackpot next during a hot opener of :26.2.
With the pace remaining “red-hot,” positions remained stagnant as Bandolito reached the half in a stunning :53.4.
On the backside, the field began to tighten up with Alexas Jackpot going first up and moving to within a length of Bandolito while Panocchio sought some room to roam as they reached the third station in 1:21.3.
Turning for home, Bandolito drifted out a tad allowing Panocchio to skim the pylons and move into the lead a sixteenth out and on to victory.
After the event, both the driver and trainer were extolling the virtues of each other with driver Clements lamenting, “As I have mentioned before, what an honour and thrill to drive a horse like this. He’s just so handy and [trainer] Jim Mattison does just an outstanding job in keeping him race-ready — even after a week or two off.”
Mattison then remarked, “You know that these are very classy horses in here…and to start from the outside makes it even more remarkable. That said, it’s one thing top have the horse power and it’s another to have a driver like Dan [Clements], who handles him to perfection.”
Panocchio now sports a 12-6-2 scorecard in 29 starts, good for $116,122 this semester and $290,688 lifetime to go along with 36 career victories and his 1:48.3 mark.
Ironically, Panocchio, who set the track record of 1:48.3 two starts back, has been the favourite in only one of his four winning starts at Pompano Park and, this night, he was the second choice at 7-5 as Bandolito wound up 4-5 on the toteboard.
Pompano Park racing resumes on Sunday night with the track presenting the F.S.B.O.A. Super Night consisting of eight events with total purses over $540,000. Super Night will also honour the late Dr. Melvyn Aylor, who passed away due to a tragic accident six years ago. The track also will be featuring a Pick 4 carryover and a guaranteed pool of $10,000.
Pari-mutuel post time is 7:30 p.m. for Super Night, with two Super Night events scheduled as non-wagering races beginning at 6:00 p.m.
(Standardbred Canada with files from Pompano Park)