Panocchio, off at a dime to a dollar in the betting, did not disappoint as this magnificent five-year-old son of No Pan Intended scored a “three-peat” win in the $10,000 Open Handicap Pace at Pompano Park on Sunday night, stopping the timer in 1:50.4 for driver Dan Clements.
Fresh off of a track record 1:48.3 performance one week ago, Panocchio was forced to pace an opening panel in :26.1 while taking the top spot away from Alexas Jackpot, handled by Joe Pavia Jr. Whogoesfirst, with Wally Hennessey in the bike, was third at this juncture with Lyons Johnny next and Next Thing Smoken fifth in the quintet.
Positions remained unchanged with Panocchio able to negotiate a “breather” of :28.2 during quarter number two, reaching the half in :54.3.
On the backside with no immediate threats developing, Clements was able to keep his charge relaxed and reached the third station in 1:23.3 while enjoying a comfortable lead of one and a quarter lengths over Alexas Jackpot with Lyons Johnny a neck further back in third.
Turning for home, Clements lifted the lines on Panocchio and he was off on a :27.1 tangent to hit the wire in the aforementioned 1:50.4 — three-parts of a length better than Alexas Jackpot with Lyons Johnny next, five and a quarter lengths away. Whogoesfirst finished fourth while Next Thing Smoken was forced to pull up on the backside due to broken equipment.
In a post-race interview, Clements lamented, “You know, it is such a pleasure and such an honour to drive a horse like this. I am so grateful to have this opportunity. The Mattisons — Jim and Vicki — have developed an exceptional talent and their dedication has paid off for them.
“Yes, I am happy to be a small part of his success, but I am very happy for them.
“I’ve been in this business a long time and this is the fastest horse I have ever driven. Indeed, I have been blessed!”
Panocchio, owned by trainer Jim Mattison along with Emile Johnson Jr., now sports a scorecard of 11-6-2 in 28 starts this year, good for $110,622 in seasonal bounty. Lifetime, Panocchio has earned $285,188 in purses.
Sandwiched around the Sunday night feature, were two divisions of the Florida Amateur Driving Club Trot with a 27-1 bomb, Rel Cash Clown, taking the opener and P L Humanity annexing the finale for the FADC.
Rel Cash Clown, driven this night by Mitch “Sky” Walker for trainer Mr. Marty Cooper and owner Andrea Siegel, won for the first time in nearly 18 months covering 36 starts, stopping the timer in 2:00.1 and rewarding his faithful with a mutual of $57.80. The fast-closing What About Brian (Laurie Poulin) finished second while Leonardo (Leon Cable) was next. Good Feeling was fourth while the 2-5 favourite, Vari Forgetful, was fifth.
That win, incidentally, set up a toteboard popping $1,630.80 early Daily Double payoff when Aloneinspades and Wally Hennessey teamed up to score a 39-1 upset over the 1-5 favourite Rockntouch (Dan Clements) in 1:53.2 in the second half of the Double. Real Temptation (Kevin Wallis) finished third while Im A Gift and Bobs Ideal picked up the final awards in the field of nine.
In the final Florida Amateur Driving Club event, Dennis Whittemore guided his own P L Humanity ($7.40) to a wire-to-wire triumph in 1:58.1, the winning margin almost three lengths over the 4-5 favoyrite, Zeitgeist (Dein Spriggs), with Tymal Recap (Billy Muggleston) well back in third. Victors Cowboy Joe and Good Friend finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the field of nine.
That result, by the way, was the final leg of the Pick 5 and, with nary a bettor able to negotiate an unblemished ticket, a carryover of $2,486 goes over into the next night’s Pick 5 — the “guaranteed” pool for the Monday night Pick 5 set at $7,500.
Pompano Park’s “undercard” feature went to Hurricane Howard, the Florida-bred eight-year-old son of Mannart Howard winning his fourth in a row.
Leading every step of the route, Hurricane Howard clocked hot panels of :26.4, :54.4 and 1:23 before a :28.3 sprint home sealed the deal over All Steinam (Mike Micallef) with Respectable Dream (Aaron Byron) third. Blueridge Dancer and Abreathofreshart picked up the minors. Owned by Lawrence Barnett along with trainer Mike Deters, Hurricane Howard was driven to victory by Rick Plano in 1:51.3, just one tick off of his lifetime mark.
The victory for Hurricane Howard was his 41st lifetime in 199 starts, sending his career bounty to $206,221 — $33,295 this season on the strength of a 6-3-4 scorecard in 26 starts.
As second choice in the wagering, Hurricane Howard paid $8.40.
Post time for the Monday program is 7:30 p.m. with the Pick-5 — and its guaranteed $7,500 pool — beginning with the first race