Racing Roundup: Panocchio upsets Prairie Jaguar at Pompano

from harness publicists across North America

Saturday’s (Oct. 25) edition of Racing Roundup features results stories from Pompano Park, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Hollywood Dayton Raceway, Batavia Downs, Vernon Downs, Scarborough Downs and Saratoga Casino and Raceway.

Panocchio upsets Prairie Jaguar at Pompano

Pompano Beach, FL — The New York invader Panocchio upset the highly vaunted Prairie Jaguar on Saturday night in Pompano Park’s $10,000 Open Pace.

Skip Smith photo

Panocchio, handled by Bruce Ranger, took top honors in Pompano Park’s Open Pace on Saturday night.

The winner, no stranger to South Florida’s five-eighths-mile oval, got the picture perfect handling from Bruce Ranger to pin a defeat measuring 1-1/4 lengths on Prairie Jaguar, driven by Aaron Byron. Fancyfreeshark and Mike Micallef teamed up for show honors while Cartoonist finished fourth with Northern Companion picking up the nickel.

Owned by Emile Johnson Jr. along with trainer Jim Mattison, Panocchio won for the 21st time in just 48 lifetime starts, sending his career bounty to $157,445 — $108,570 this year on the strength of 13 wins in 24 starts.

Though starting from the outside eight post, Panocchio actually blasted out of the gate ahead of Prairie Jaguar, vaulting to the lead in the first couple of strides and taking the field to the opening panel in :27.

Prairie Jaguar, usually on the bit from the get-go, was a bit tardy this time around and only took command after the opener and rocketed over to the half in :54.3 and continued on the engine through three-quarters in 1:22.3.

Just short of that third station, Panocchio left the cozy pocket and began his attack, putting his head in front turning for home and sealing the seal with a :28 finale.

In a post race interview, driver Bruce Ranger had high praise for this 4-year-old son of No Pan Intended, as well as both Jim and Vicki Mattison.

“You can drive this horse with two fingers…he’s that handy. It wasn’t always that way, though, At first, he could be very headstrong and up tight and tough to handle. Jim (trainer Mattison) has done just a remarkable job with him and Vicki’s — that’s Jim’s wife — tender loving care has paid off in spades.”

The large crowd on hand at Pompano Park actually made Panocchio the slight favorite — 6-5 on the board — and he returned $4.60 to his faithful.

— John Berry

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
Speed Again led every step of the way to win the featured Open Pace on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race carried the night’s top purse of $35,000. Leaving from post position six in a field of nine as a 4-1 third choice, Speed Again, a 5-year-old gelding from the Run Burke barn who was fresh off an Open Handicap win at Harrah’s Philadelphia, was sent to the front by driver Anthony Napolitano right from the start. P H Supercam, the 4-5 favorite who had won three Opens in a row at Yonkers, settled behind him in the pocket. In the stretch, Speed Again answered the charge of P H Supercam, holding him off to win by a neck in 1:49. Aslan finished third. Speed Again, owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi and RTC Stables, won for the sixth time in 23 races this year. It was his 21st lifetime win and pushed his career earnings to $764,896.

Hollywood Dayton Raceway
The $11,000 Open Pace at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Saturday night produced a three-horse blanket finish. Lucky Lime (with driver Chris Page) nosed favored Meirs Hanover (Dan Noble) and last week’s winner Torrington (Kayne Kauffman) in 1:51.1. It was the fifth win on the season for the son of Rocknroll Hanover trained by K. Dean Glispie.

Batavia Downs
With three horses scratched in an already short field, Fireyourguns had it pretty much his own way while winning the $9,500 Open Pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night. Starting from post four in the four-horse field, Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) immediately went to the front and held the lead through fractions of :27.1, :56.4, and 1:25.4 before holding off a late challenge from Unicorn Hanover (Dave McNeight III) to win in 1:54.2 by a half-length. The winner paid $3.40. It was the 14th win of 2014 for the 5-year-old son of American Ideal and it boosted his annual earnings to $95,560 for owners Robert and Jennifer Lowe and Terrence McClory, who also trains the horse. Leading Downs driver Kevin Cummings had a driving double along with John Cummings Jr., Drew Monti and Jim McNeight.

Vernon Downs
John MacDonald was the star of the show at Vernon Downs on Saturday evening, winning four of 13 races on the card — three of them with his own trainees.
He kicked off his driving grand slam in the featured second race, a $6,500 upper-level conditioned pace. Dragon Fever ($7.60), a 4-year-old Dragon Again gelding from the MacDonald stable, sprinted to the front from race’s outset, set sensible fractions of :27.3 and :56.3, turning aside a bid from the pocket-sitting Barbarian (Fern Paquet Jr.) on the far turn before kicking clear to a 2-1/2 length victory in 1:53.1. In the fourth race, a $3,000 second-level conditioned pace, MacDonald pounced from the pocket in mid-stretch with Firethorn ($6.10), beating the pacesetting Donna’s Scape in a 1:52.3 mile. MacKenzie’s Bliss ($16.20) gave MacDonald a training and driving hat trick in the eighth race, also kicking to the fore to take the $5,100 fifth-level conditioned pace in 1:53.1. In the ninth race, a $4,000-$5,000 claiming handicap trot, MacDonald teamed up with the Arnold Marks-trained Windsun Galliano ($9.60), working clear through a :28.1 first quarter before rating a more conservative tempo on the backstretch. After dismissing a first-over challenge from Funny Photo (Chris Lems), Windsun Galliano drew clear in the stretch for a 1:57.1 triumph, ending up five lengths in front at the line when the pocket-sitting Nineanddivine (Claude Huckabone III) broke stride in deep stretch. Only three nights of racing remain in the 2014 season at Vernon Downs. Closing week kicks off on Thursday (Oct. 30) with a 10-race program, due to start at 6:45 p.m. (EDT).

Scarborough Downs
Driver Drew Campbell refused to play second fiddle to anyone on Saturday as he added to his meet’s leading tally with four trips down victory lane on a beautiful sunny day at Scarborough Downs. Campbell wore down the front running Manchine with the Randy Bickmore trained Ringo to grab his first win of the afternoon. Just another day at the office for Mr. Grand Slam.

Saratoga Casino and Raceway
Moveoutofmyway (Dontgetinmyway) won his first local Open Pace on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. After finishing fourth and fifth in his two previous tries at the Spa, the Brittany Robertson-trained Moveoutofmyway drew post position three in Saturday’s $17,000 Open. Ending up with a first over journey, the 5-year-old pacer fought gamely to take the lead turning for home before being confronted by the race’s favorite Ronny Bugatti (Austin Siegelman) who was trying to go last to first for his second straight feature score. Moveoutofmyway held strong in the stretch and denied Ronny Bugatti the repeat by hitting the wire first in 1:52.3. Stephane Bouchard piloted the winner who returned $8.00 to win. Ronny Bugatti had to settle for second while Trigger Finger (Jim Devaux) earned the show spot.

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