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Round one of Isle of Capri is in the books

February 17, 2008

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Recent Presidential Series hero Mr. Feelgood and the millionaire pacer Maltese Artist put forth impressive performances at Pompano Park on Saturday night, prevailing in their respective $30,000 divisions of the first leg of the $350,000 Isle of Capri Pacing Series under the South Florida lights.

Guided away from post four by Pompano Park\'s leading driver, Bruce Ranger, Mr. Feelgood paced confidently on the lead through an opening quarter mile, in :27.1, before yielding the top spot to No Nonsense Yankee (Wally Hennessey) as the field moved by the grandstand for the first time.

“I would rather have cut the mile, but it just didn’t work out that way,” Ranger said following the victory. “Wally (Hennessey) had to drop in behind a longshot early and then had to come forward, and I didn’t want to rough my horse up in his first start after shipping in.”

No Nonsense Yankee showed the way through middle fractions of :55 and 1:23.1, with Mr Feelgood tracking contently from the pocket, as both My Boy David (Dan Clements) and He Wants it All (David Ingraham) took failed attempts to wear down the leader while attacking from the outside.

After turning back those challengers, No Nonsense Yankee entered the lane with a 1 ½-length advantage, but was quickly engaged in mid-stretch by Mr. Feelgood, and the duo paced in tandem through the final yards, with the son of Grinfromeartoear pushing his nose in front in the shadow of the wire to score, in 1:51.

“He settled comfortably, and was perfect tonight,” Ranger added. “He’s just a wonderful horse to drive. He races on a loose line, and he seems practically flawless.

“I thought he may have been beat late, but right at the end he got that little surge to win, like all of the good ones seem to do.\"

Owned by Brittany Farms, Lindy Farms of Connecticut and John Fodera, and trained by Nancy Johansson, Mr. Feelgood returned $3.60, $2.80 and $2.20 for the victory. No Nonsense Yankee paid $3.20 and $3.60 for second, while Predator DVM (Kevin Wallis) paid $5 for show. Green River Gorge, Armbro Dynamic, He Wants it All, Hop Sing and My Boy David rounded-out the field.

Two races later, driver Dave Palone scored his 12,000th career victory when guiding Maltese Artist through the wire first in the second division of the opening leg of the Isle of Capri Pacing Series, in 1:51.1.

Starting from post position five, Maltese Artist wasted little time seizing control of the race, accelerating rapidly off the gate, and charging directly to the front, leaving his main challenger, Special Report (Hennessey), to chase from the pocket through fractions of :27.1, :56.1 and 1:24.2.

The son of Artiscape entered the stretch with a one-length advantage, and was resolute down the lane, holding sway through the final yards to prevail by that same margin, and score for the sixth straight time, while giving Palone the milestone win.

“It’s a good feeling, and I think any of those guys back there wearing colors will tell you that you are only as good as the horse that is in front of you,” Palone said from the winner’s circle following his landmark triumph.

Owned by Sylvia Burke, John Howard, and James Koran, and conditioned by Mickey Burke, Maltese Artist returned $3, $2.10 and $2.10 for the victory. Special Report paid $3 and $2.40 for place, while Western Ace (Howard Parker) brought in $2.80 for show. Fake Denario N, Disco Dragon, Mahdi, JK Big Shot and Four Starz Lights completed the order of finish.

The second leg of the Isle of Capri Pacing Series will be contested on Feb. 23, with the $250,000 final, which marks a $100,000 increase from last year, scheduled for March 1. (Pompano Park)

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