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Panocchio posts 49th lifetime win at Pompano

January 02, 2017
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The grand gelding Panocchio, driven by Wally Hennessey, celebrated his seventh birthday with his 49th lifetime win in Pompano Park’s $12,000 Open Handicap Pace. Panocchio stopped the timer in 1:51.2 in defeating a against a stellar sextet with combined career earnings of more than $2.5 million.

The son of No Pan Intended, off as the second choice at 4 to 5, pinned a 1 ¾ length defeat on the late charging 18 to 1 chance Bluehourpower, handled by Ricky Macomber, Jr. with Duc Dorleans, teamed up with Pompano newcomer Stephane Brosseau and off at 13 to 1, third, 2 ¼ lengths away.The 3-5 tote-board favorite, Drachan Hanover, with John MacDonald handling the lines, finished fourth after cutting initial panels of :26.1, :55.2 and 1:23.1. Whogoesfirst (Kevin Wallis) used the rail for a ground saving mile to pick up the nickel while Abreathofreshart completed the rundown. 

At the outset, Panocchio, leaving from the coveted post five, pushed the Hummer Starting Gate out of the way to assume the early lead while Drachan Hanover, leaving from post 6, began a grind forward that put him on top midway around the opening turn.

Duc Dorleans, on the engine early as well, nestled into the third spot with Whogoesfirst, Abreathofreshart and Bluehourpower next.

Giving plenty of respect to the leader, positions remained unchanged until mid-backstretch when Bluehourpower began his march forward from seven lengths away but gnawing away slowly.

Meanwhile, just after Drachan Hanover reached that third station, Panocchio abruptly left his cozy garden spot and engaged the leader in war, taking command turning for home and then holding off Bluehourpower as Macomber’s charge was pacing the fastest final panel of the group--:27.2—but still almost two lengths away at the finish.

After the race, Hennessey related, "this horse does nothing but amaze me. He had a very tough trip in his last start and Jimmy (trainer Mattison) gave him a week off.

"It seems, whenever he gets a week off, he comes back better than ever. He took a week off in early November and he came back and won. He had to take another week off in late November and he came back and won.

 "Then, after that tough trip last start, he took a week off and, tonight, he was as sharp as ever. Jim and (wife) Vicki do a fantastic job with him and this horse pays them back with his great performances on the racetrack." 

Owned by Emile Johnson, Jr. along with trainer Mattison, Panocchio now sports a 49-20-9 scorecard in 109 starts and, with this win, vaults over the $400,000 in career bounty--$403,368 to be precise.

Panocchio rewarded his many backers with a $3.80 win mutual.

Racing continues on Monday night with Tater Twister looking to extend his winning streak to three in the $12,000 Open Handicap Trot.  

The seven year-old gelded son of ABC Garland, trained by Mike Murphy for owners Imogene Rhule, Geneva Stewart and Barbara Murphy, comes off his best season as he won almost $60,000 in 2016.

Mike Simons is expected back in the sulky back of Tater Twister, installed as the 2 to 1 morning line favorite against Railee Workable, Diamond Dagger, She’s All In, Serendipitious and Gold Savage. 

Post time is set for 7:20 p.m. with a $10,000 guaranteed Pick-4 pool awaiting covering races 6 through 9. (Pompano) 

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