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Pompano Beach, FL...December 9, 2019...The USA-Italian Amateur Competition took center stage at Pompano Park on Sunday night with the USA team edging out the Italians in the first of their two night-four event harness racing series. The 53-40 edge came as Gary Barbere, driving his own Andriy Fortna, and Dein Spriggs, handling his new addition High Blue, won their respective events. Andriy Fortuna, a 12 year-old gelded son of S J's Photo, got picture perfect handling by Barbere to score a 1;56.4 win over Sheer Flex (Daniele Orsini) and Savin Rock (Pier D'Angelo) with Cheeky Little Minx (Alessandro Manfredi) and Toss Cartwright Leon Cable) also in the top five. The winner paid $3.20 to his multitude of faithful. High Blue led every step of hi journey--also clocked in 1:56.4--as this nine year-old altered son of Majestic Son earned his 40th career win and first for new owner Spriggs. Tymal Tullo (Tony Dinges) was second, two lengths away, with Legend Field (Pier D'Angelo) next over Photo Master (Daniel Orsini) and Santini (Steve Oldford). A the 3 to 5 tote-board favorite, High Blue paid $3.40 to win. Said Spriggs after the event, "This is a very wonderful competition between two countries that love their trotting events. They have many, many talented horsemen and horsewomen over there and it's wonderful that the come over to be in this highly competitive--but friendly--competition. "And one other thing...the two trainers deserve special recognition, as well, as Odell (Thompson, trainer of Andriy Fortuna) and Allen Saul (trainer of High Blue) have each been around horses for over a half century and they still have the magic touch to train winners. They are both amazing!" Father Time couldn't dent the spirit of winning for several other "oldsters" competing on the Sunday card. Track record holder Panocchio, now nine, scored his 68th career win (44th at Pompano Park) with a near gate-to-wire score in 1:51.4 for Wall Hennessey. Making his 199th career start, Panocchio carded number of :27.4, :56.1 and 1:24.1 before a :27.3 final sealed the deal by two lengths over the pocket sitting War-N-Munn (Kevin Wallis) with Always Glorious (Dave Ingraham) third. America Chrome, closing fastest of all, finished fourth while Bass Player picked up the nickel. Trained by Jim Mattison, who co-owns wit Emile Johnson, Jr., Panocchio, the splendid son of No Pan Intended, has banked $621,538 to go along with his Pompano track record of 1:48.3 set four seasons ago. Panocchio returned $4.00 as the even-money chalk. Father Time has yet to catch up to Prescotts Hope, either, as this nine year-old made a quarter move o the top and went on to score in 1:51, a seasonal best for trainer-driver Rick Plano. Also a son of No Pan Intended, the winner, after a :26.3 opener, went on to put up fractions of :55 and 1:22.3 before coasting home in :28.2. After the race, Plano simply said, "He's a pretty good pony!" Prescotts Hope, owned by Nikki Hudson and Maryann Plano, now has banked $341,298. Off as third choice at 7 to 2, the winner paid $9.20. Also of note, yet another nine year-old captured the Super Hi-5 finale as Late Night Joke, dismissed at 18 to 1, nailed the pacesetting Mcjagersonthemove to win in 1:50.4 The gelded son of Western Terror, handled by MIke Simons, was away in mid-pack as Mcjagersonthemove, with Fern Paquet, Jr. in his bike, absolutely sizzled through panels of :26.1, :53.4 and 1:21.3. From six lengths out of it turning for home, Late Night Joke began gnawing away and caught the still-game leader right on the wire. Favored Feelin Lika Winner (Wally Hennessey) was third. Trained by Rob Rittof for Dandy Farms and the Ft Racing Stable, Late Night Joke rewarded his followers with a $39.60 mutual a sent hi career bounty to $380,002. Racing continues on Monday night with the grand final of the USA-Italian Amateur Competition with post time set for 7:20 p.m. by John Berry, for the Florida Amateur Driving Club            

Northville, MI. -- A longtime mainstay harness racing stakes event at the former Raceway Park in Toledo, Ohio, will be resurrected on Saturday night (Nov. 16), when the $25,000 Wolverine-Buckeye Invitational Pace heads a 12-race card at Northville Downs.   Four pacers with Michigan connections will square off against a quartet of their Ohio-based rivals in the featured event, carded as race 10 on the program. First post time is 7:30 p.m. Eastern.   Local Open contender Top Notch has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite from post three. Prior to a gutsy second-place finish out of post eight in last week's featured pace, the 5-year-old No Pan Intended gelding proved victorious in two straight top-level events. Darrell Wright will once again drive the 21-time winner for trainer Kristy Casagranda.   Top Notch's main competition will likely come from the Ohio-based Gorgeous View, the 5-2 second choice out of post six. The 5-year-old He's Gorgeous gelding invades from Northfield Park, where he has proven competitive in upper-level conditioned races and taken a seasonal mark of 1:52.1. Marc St. Louis Jr. will handle the driving duties for owner-trainer Jessica Roegner.   The fastest winning mile of the season belongs to Swapportunity, who represents Ohio from post two. The 7-year-old son of Mach Three won a mid-level conditioned race at Hollywood Dayton Raceway in 1:50.1 on Oct. 10, and he has amassed 29 victories throughout his career. Art McIlmurray will drive for trainer Ray Farmer.   Crusoe Hanover (Mark Headworth, post one), OGradys First Man (Don Harmon, post four) and Still Friskie (David Lake, post seven) are the three other Michigan entrants, while Dancin Fever (John Moody, post five) and The Book Of Life (Justin Belanger, post eight) complete the Ohio quartet.   Keeping with the Wolverine-Buckeye theme, fans on track will have the chance to win a pair of tickets to the Michigan-Ohio State football game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Nov. 30, in a "Survivor"-style handicapping contest. The contest, which is free to enter, requires fans to select the winner of each race on the live card.   From the Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association  

Columbus, MN - The featured event on the Saturday evening (September 7) harness racing program at Running Aces was the $16,000 Open Handicap Pace, with a field of eight talented horses and geldings lining up for battle.   This week's top Open field saw the return of Stuckey Dote to the Minnesota five-eighths oval, taking on the best local horses in preparation for the Minnesota Night of Champions next weekend.   Stuckey Dote took plenty of action at the betting windows, and was sent off as the 9-5 favorite over Dan Patch FFA champion Nine Ways who was well respected at 2-1 from post eight.   Firedrake (Nick Roland) left alertly from post seven, and found the third position at the pylons while Stuckey Dote (Mooney Svendsen) powered to the front, and Top Notch (Rick Magee) left alertly to secure the pocket from post one, as they registered a :27 flat first panel.   Nine Ways pulled early and drove first-up to challenge Stuckey Dote for a battle that lasted a half mile, with moderate middle fractions of :56.2 and 1:25.1, before Nine Ways was forced to wave the white flag. Stuckey Dote continued to lead as they straightened for home, but Top Notch had enjoyed the perfect trip and angled wide from the pocket with a burst of pace to get up by a neck on the wire in 1:53.3 while both Who'szoomingwho (Darrell Wright) and Firedrake were both flying late for third and fourth respectively in a thrilling blanket finish.   Top Notch ($18 80) is a 5 year old gelded son of No Pan Intended, and out of the Camluck mare Tymal Talea. He is owned by Joe Casagranda and is trained by Rick Magee. The Saturday feature race win was the fourth tally of the year for Top Notch.   SB Bodacious ($11.40) picked up his fifth win of the year in the $16,000 Minnesota-Sired 3 year old pace event, flying late with a :28.2 final quarter to sweep by the field in an exciting blanket finish in 1:55.1 over race favorite Burning Blaze. Rick Magee is the trainer/driver of the impressive son of Voracious Hanover, who has now banked $46,311 in thirteen sophomore starts.   Drivers Rick Magee and Steve Wiseman led the Saturday program with two winners each.   Live Racing returns to Running Aces on Sunday (September 8) with 3 nights left to go in the 2019 season. The 20 cent Pick-5 Jackpot now stands at $5,781.48. Post time on Sunday is 6 pm Central.   By Darin Gagne, for Running Aces                                                   

MILTON, December 1, 2018 - Richard Moreau trainee Isitfridayyet picked up his first harness racing career Preferred victory in Saturday's $34,000 feature at Woodbine Mohawk Park. A field of eight older pacers battled over a 'Sloppy' track for this week's edition of the Preferred. The early-scramble saw Regal Son clear to the top shortly after posting a :27 opening-quarter. Physicallyinclined, who left from the rail, was on the move from third at the first-quarter and rushed up to take the lead well-before reaching the half in :56.3. The son of No Pan Intended and driver Louis Philippe Roy got away sixth from post-eighth. The eventual winner angled out at the half and was situated third-over and a little more than four-lengths from the lead turning for home. Physicallyinclined continued to lead at three-quarters in 1:25.4. The stretch-drive was a wild scene with five-horses within nearly a length of the lead at the seven-eighths pole. Isitfridayyet powered off cover and charged by on the outside to win by a length and a half in 1:53.2. Regal Son came up the inside from the two-hole to finish second, while Rockin In Heaven came from second-over to grab third. Physicallyinclined gave up the lead in the lane but battled to finish fourth. A five-year-old gelding, Isitfridayyet has gone from competing as a $15,000 claimer at Western Fair in January to winning the top-class at Mohawk Park in December. His five-year-old record now sits at 11 wins and $134,830 earned in 23 starts. Isitfridayyet joined the Moreau barn in late-February and is owned by Leonard Rosene of London, Ontario. The Preferred victory increases his career numbers to 20 wins and $176,374 earned. A $2 win ticket on Isitfridayyet returned Live racing resumes Monday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m. Mark McKelvie - Woodbine Communications          

CHARLOTTETOWN, PE - IC True Grit was within inches of making the winner's circle in his latest pair of starts but will look to put it all together Thursday evening in the feature event at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at the Charlottetown. The Thursday program will be the last mid-week card at the capital oval as action shifts to strictly weekend racing starting next week. The 10-dash Thursday card has a 6:30 P.M. post time with the top class lining up in race 9 for a $2,100 purse. IC True Grit is installed as the morning line favourite from post 2 in the featured pace with Gilles Barrieau in the driver's seat for trainer Jackie Matheson and owners Joey Gallant and Ingham Jenkins of Charlottetown, P.E.I. The son of No Pan Intended was second in his last two starts beaten less than a head in each start. One of the pacers that beat him will square off with him again this week as Jeb has post 5 for trainer-driver Jason Hughes riding a quartet of top two finishes into the event. Nogreatmischief has rail control for trainer-driver Walter Cheverie as the former Governor's Plate finalist looks for his first trip to the Red Shores Charlottetown winner's circle since May. Race analyst Les MacIsaac goes with IC True Grit to get the job done and hit the wire first. "IC True Grit has had a couple of bang up second place finishes at this level, his most recent out of the six hole," MacIsaac said. "With an improved post this time around he could be the one to knock off." Also in the field is Likely To Win (Driven by Adam Merner), Rockin Indy (David Dowling) and Stars Above (Mike McGuigan). Race 8 of the program has Killean Finale making her first East Coast start from post 6 in the field of as many. Ken Murphy drives the winner of $175,000 for trainer Clifford Murphy and owners Dr. Mary McNiven and Pacemaker Stable of Nine Mile Creek, P.E.I. The five-year-old daughter of Sportswriter last raced at Harrington Raceway in Delaware, U.S., in a conditioned class. Majian Tango headlines the race 7 Open trot for a $1,950 purse for trainer-driver Jim Ripley and owner Marylea Ripley of Amherst, N.S. The son of Tad The Stud has had three wins so far in his four-year-old campaign including a win in last start on Oct. 11, and was subsequently scratched last week due to travel restriction on the Confederation Bridge. Other top entries include Dusty Lane Jacob (Merner) and Frill Seeker (Kenny Arsenault). For more information go to www.Redshores.ca. by Nicholas Oakes, for Red Shores  

Pompano Beach, FL...November 13, 2017...Panocchio, the brilliant seven year-old gelded son of No Pan Intended, conquered a trio of harness racing obstacles in scoring his 35th lifetime win at Pompano Park on Sunday night (November 12) in the $11,000 Open Handicap Pace. The obstacles he brushed aside were: 1) a strong million dollar field of competitors; 2) the outside nice post and 3) near monsoon conditions enveloping the track and, at the wire, driver Wally Hennessey had a 2 3/4 length margin over his nearest competitor in 1:51.4. E R Melvyn, handled by Rick Plano, finished second while Rockntouch, teamed with Mickey McNichol, was third. Bestinthebusiness and Team Captain picked up the minor awards in the field of nine. At the outset, Panocchio was away near the back of the pack but rushed up quickly thereafter to find himself third over--but sixth--at the opening quarter as Drachan Hanover and Rockntouch battled through that :27 marker with Team Captain third and Barbarian fourth on the outside and hung out to dry. Drachan Hanover and Rockntouch were one-two past the half in a hot :55 over the sloppy racing oval with Barbarian next and ready to call it a night. That's when Hennessey sent Panocchio on his devastating double-bubble brush that took him right to the front during the next eighth mile, followed by a similar move by E R Melvyn from seventh. By the time they reached the third station in 1:23.4, Panocchio owned a daylight lead over E R Melvyn that kept widening right to the wire. After the race, Hennessey related, "What a horse. What a pleasure to drive. You known Jimmy (trainer Mattison) doesn't go too much with him in training miles--maybe a trip in 2:20 or 2:30--but, when he sees the (starting) gate, he's all business. "I wasn't that anxious leaving with him tonight because a bunch of them were leaving, so I went looking for a decent spot and there was none around so my only choice was to follow some cover and hope it took us far enough along. On the backside, I sent him on one of your 'double-bubble' moves and he responded like-WOW! "He amazes me every start." Panocchio now has a 57-27-12 scorecard in 136 career starts, good for lifetime bounty of $480.643, including his 35 wins here at Pompano Park, one of which is his track record 1:48.3 performance here. For this season, Panocchio has nine wins in 28 starts and earnings of $83,225 for trainer Jim Mattison, who co-owns with Emile Johnson, Jr. As the 3 to 2 favorite, Panocchio paid $5.00 to win. Hennessey also captured the $10,000 co-feature with Duc Dorleans, who scored a very sharp decision in 1:52 over Major Starlight (Dave Ingraham) with Dee's Rocket Man (Fern Paquet, Jr.) a sharp closing third. Skip Jive was fourth in the field of nine while Sumthintallnstrong picked up the nickel. Duc Dorleans, a seven year-old altered son of Shanghai Phil, took command at the opening quarter in :27 and proceeded to wire together subsequent fractions of :55.1 and 1:23.2 before his :28.3 kick home was more than enough to get the job done--the margin 3 3/4 lengths. Trained by Jacques Dupont for Les Ecuries Dorleans, Inc., Duc Dorleand won for the third time this semester in 18 starts and set a seasonal best time with the win. Career-wise, Duc Dorleans has 39 wins and $642,689 to go along with his Mohawk mark of 1:48.4. Third choice at 7 to 2, Duc Dorleans paid $9.20 to win. Racing continues on Monday night with a Super Hi-5 finale jackpot swelling with a carry-over of $7,794. Post time is 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park          

Pompano Beach, FL...October 23, 2017...Panocchio, again handled by Wally Hennessey, scored a repeat harness racing win in Pompano Park's Open Handicap Pace on Sunday night, holding off the determined late surge of Sing For Me George (John Mac Donald) by a head in 1:51.2. The brilliant seven year-old gelded son of No Pan Intended, co-owned by trainer Jim Mattison along with Emile Johnson, Jr., carved out all the panels, slicing through the opener in :27 before adding :55.2 and 1:23.4 to the mix before sealing the deal with a :27.3 finale. Frankies Dragon (Corey Braden) finished third while Bestinthebusiness and Rockntouch also earned checks in the classy sextet. In a post-race interview, Hennessey remarked, "What can I say that hasn't been said already? He's just as game as they come and as handy as they come. Johnny's (MacDonald) horse (Sing For Me George) is very sharp now, too, and he was rolling late but Panocchio seems to know where the wire is and he kept on going until it was over." Panocchio now has 56 career wins in 134 starts with 34 of those victories at Pompano Park, including his 1:48.3 track record. For this semester, Panocchio has a 8-6-3 scorecard in 26 starts, good for $75.525, pushing his lifetime bankroll to $472.843. Off at 1 to 5 on the tote-board, Panocchio paid $2.40 to win. Silver Wings was one of the four two year-old winners in the FSBOA Sunshine State Stakes on Sunday night, conducted as non-wagering events prior to the pari-mutuel card. Diamond Eyes, Captain Thomas and I Rhoda Daley were the other juvenile winners. Silver Wings, a son of Rock On, took top honors in the colt-gelding pace with Corey Braden handling the lines, in a lifetime best 1:58.4. Co-owned by trainer Veral Bowman along with Craig Schmidt, Silver Wings won the early battle for supremacy over Jay Jay (John MacDonald) and then sliced through panels of :29.1, 1:00.4 and 1:30.1 before silencing his foes with a :28.3 closer to score by 4 1/2 lengths over Jay Jay with Dontblevmejuswatch (Wally Hennessey) and Mister Special T completing the official order of finish. Diamond Eyes, a daughter of Six Of Diamonds trained by Kim Sears for owner Penny Kelley, got picture perfect handling from Bryce Fenn to score in a lifetime best 2:01.4--:59.1--:29.1 performance in the two year-old filly pace. This youngster left alertly and battled with Krinda before allowing that one to take command at the opening station in :30.4. Krinda actually opened up a three length advantage around the final turn but Diamond Eyes began gnawing away, taking command once they straightened away and then holding off Prairie Foolish (Jim Meittinis) by a length. Starcasim (Joe Sanzeri) was a fast closing third with Krinda fourth. Six Line Lily picked up the minor award. Captain Thomas, a maiden coming into the action, led every step of his mile, going on to score a 5 1/4 length win for John MacDonald in the two year-old trot for colts and geldings. This gelded son of Proud Bushy put up numbers of :29.4, 1:00.2 and 1:30.2 before a stroll home stopped the timer in 2:02.1. Trained by Kim Sears for owner John Campagnuolo, Captain Thomas left Brian (Wally Hennessey), Prairie Eclipse (Meittinis), Jiro Dangerous and Treasure Quest in his wake. Finally, the Sunshine State Stake for juvenile trotting fillies went to I Rhoda Daley for Wally Hennessey in a lifetime best 2:04.1. It was about one month ago that this daughter of Desperado Don won her first lifetime start in 2:14. She is now 4-for-5 lifetime for trainer Jason MacDougall, who co-owns with Lee Clarke. Racing continues on Wednesday night with Sunshine State Stakes action continuing for three year-old Florida breds in five non-wagering events beginning at 5:30 with a full 10 race pari-mutuel card following at 7:20 p.m. The Super Hi-5 Finale on Wednesday night features a carryover of $5,507. Reported by John Berry for Pompano Park and the FSBOA            

HARRINGTON, Del. - Jason and Susan Skinner's BJ's Sweetheart ($44, Art Stafford Jr.) was an upset harness racing winner in the $17,500 Mares Open at Harrington Raceway Tuesday in 1:53.3. The 7-year-old No Pan Intended mare surged by pacesetter Purrfect Bags late for a narrow win. Trained by co-owner Jason Skinner, it was her 29th career win. Purrfect Bags was second with Miss Me Yet third. The winner has banked nearly $320,000 in her career. Mike Casalino's Media Queen N ($5, Pat Berry) won her third straight race on the undercard, in a $10,000 pace. The Mach Three 6-year-old mare, scored an off the pace triumph for trainer Chris Marino in 1:55. Matthew Sparacino  

Panocchio was the harness racing 'Pacer of the Year' at Saratoga Casino Hotel in both 2014 and 2015. After another terrific season in '16, the Jimmy Mattison trainee got off to a slow start at the Spa (by his standards) but on Saturday night earned his first local win of the year. Trainer Jimmy Mattison, who was inducted into the Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame last month, saw his prized pacer go coast to coast in Saturday's $14,000 Winners Over. The defending Pacer of the Year Artful Way was the race's odds-on favorite but made an uncharacteristic break in the first turn. Panocchio (No Pan Intended) didn't make it look easy but as he usually does, dug in late in the mile wound up securing the win in 1:52.3 with Gerry Mattison in the sulky. He's A Lock (Wally Hennessey) came on for second while YS Lotus (Billy Dobson) earned the show spot. It was the sixth win in 2017 for Panocchio who had another strong winter/spring while competing in Florida at Pompano Park. On Saturday, the seven year old paid $6.80 to win and led an exacta and triple that came back $50.50 and $386.50, respectively. Live racing resumes on Tuesday evening at Saratoga with a 7:05pm first post. Mike Sardella

Pompano Beach, FL...Sunday, April 23, 2017...Panocchio, returning to the racing wars after a two month layoff because of sickness, showed his gameness by defeating a classy octet of harness racing pacers in the $11,000 Open Handicap Pace at Pompano Park on Sunday night (April 23). The seven year-old gelded son of No Pan Intended, again handled by Wally Hennessey, overcame the outside post and an onslaught of challengers in the final stages to win by a scant nose over the late surging Heart Felt, driven by Bryce Fenn, with Rock On Moe, with Dan Daley in the bike, closing fastest of all to fall a half-length short. Here Comes William, pacing an "even-steven" mile, was fourth while St Lads Lotto, dead last at the stretch call, rallied to pick up the nickel. At the outset, Rockntouch, driven by Mickey McNichol, blasted off the wings to take command while Panocchio, taking a chance to find a spot close up early, found one in second with Here Comes William third and Fritzie Pic Up Man next. With an opening quarter in a hot :26.2 on a track rated "good" after being deluged with prolonged afternoon rain, Rockntouch sizzled over to the half in :54.3 with Panocchio almost two lengths away and Fritzie Pic Up Man on the move and drawing up to within a length of the leader past the third station in 1:22.4. Fritzie Pic Up Man finally wrestled the lead away from Rockntouch turning for home while Hennessey was finally able to weasel his way out of the pocket and give chase, taking command shortly after they straightened away. But the issue was far from being settled as both Heart Felt and Rock On Moe were closing in. On the wire, the photo finish camera showed that Panocchio's nose was, indeed, long enough to secure the victory, his fifth of the year in only six starts. After the race, Hennessey said, "there are no words that adequately describe this horse. He is just amazing. "He's been off for more than two months because he just wasn't feeling up to par and he only had a couple of qualifiers coming in. "But, he's done that kind of thing before and he goes just where he has to go to win. "The track was off a second or two and it was a tiring track but he went another amazing mile. Jim (trainer Mattison) can be proud of his performance tonight." Panocchio now has 53 lifetime wins--31 at Pompano Park in 47 starts--with a lifetime bankroll of $430,468 to go along with a track record mark of 1:48.3 at Pompano Park, as well. Trainer Mattison co-owns Panocchio with Emile Johnson, Jr. As the 3 to 2 favorite, Panocchio paid $5.00 to win. In other Sunday action, Music Is Art, a son of Art Major who won his sophomore debut in 1:53.4 at Pompano Park on April 11, stepped up a notch and won his second in a row, this time in 1:54.1 for driver Anthony Kerwood. Trainer by Peter Blood, who co-owns with Rick Berks, Music Is Art stalked the 2 to 5 favorite, Regalanthropist (Wally Hennessey) through panels of :27.3, :57.1 and 1:26.1 before leaving his cozy pocket around the final bend and using a :27.4 finale to score a handy 2½ length win over Artistic Cruiser (Matt Romano) with Ball Don't Lie (Kevin Wallis) third over Regalanthropist. EY Cowboy picked up the minor award in the sextet. Music Is Art, who won $38,108 in only seven starts last year at two, earned his fourth lifetime win to send his career bankroll to $43,408. As the 3 to 2 second choice, Music Is Art paid $5.00 to win. Racing continues of Monday night with Boli looking to score a repeat win in the $10,000 Open Handicap Trot. This five year-old son of Kadabra, trained by Dan Hennessey for owners Paul and Patricia O'Neil, has been installed as the 9 to 5 morning line favorite and will have the driving services of Pompano Park's leading driver, Wally Hennessey. Looking to upset the applecart on Monday night are Commentary (6 to 1), M T Ur Pockets (7 to 1), Diamond Dagger (7 to 2), Keystone Bodacious (4 to 1), Sailer Eddie (9 to 1) and Tater Twister (8 to 1). The track's Super Hi-5 continues Monday and Tuesday night with a mandatory payout scheduled for Sunday, April 30 should no one be able to capture the entire pool with a single 20 cent winning ticket. The carryover for the Super Hi-5 has ballooned to around $90,000. Post time is set for 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park      

Pompano Beach, FL...January 29, 2017...For the 10th time in 11 starts since returning to Pompano Park, Panocchio, handled by Wally Hennessey, has taken top harness racing honors in Pompano Park's top pace--the $12,000 Open Handicap. With temperatures in the cool 50's and the track rated sloppy, the seven year-old gelded son of No Pan Intended scored a hard-earned half-length victory over Uncmprmising Z Tam, driven by Ricky Macomber, Jr. with Respectable Dream, with Rick Plano in the bike, third, a length away. Drachan Hanover finished fourth in the classy quartet after a backside binge from the back of the pack to push his nose in front past the third station. With the scratch of Bluehourpower, Panocchio was, as usual, sent winging when the gate sprang and took a clear lead around the opening turn, reaching the initial quarter in :27.2. After a second quarter breather that left Panocchio with a 1½ length advantage halfway through the mile in :56.3, the leader was forced to pick up the pace as Drachan Hanover brushed up strongly with a :27.1 panel of his own to poke a nostril in front at the third station in 1:24.3. In the lane, Panocchio responded and put Drachan Hanover away, only to have attacks develop from both sides as Uncmprmising Z Tam slipped through along the inside with Respectable Dream charging on the other side. But Panocchio, again, as usual, was up to the task on the strength of his :27.3 finale to score his fourth straight win. After the event, driver Wally Hennessey remarked, "This horse always does his best---gives his best. The track was a couple of seconds off with all the rain today and this was no cakewalk and I think MacDonald's horse (Drachan Hanover) stuck his nose in front around the final bend. "The great thing about Panocchio is that you don't have to get after him as he knows what to do himself when a horse comes along side. He digs in himself. "It doesn't matter if he misses a week because Jimmy (trainer Mattison) doesn't train him hard--usually only around 2:30. But every time this horse steps on the track to go behind the gate, he's all business. Jim and (wife) Vicki are just great." Co-owned by Jim Mattison, along with Emile Johnson, Panocchio is now four-for-four this semester, good for $24,000 and, now with 52 lifetime wins (31 at Pompano Park), the grand gelding now has a career bankroll of $421,368 to go along with his track record performance at Pompano of 1:48.3. As the 1 to 10 favorite, Panocchio paid $2.20 to win. In the $10,000 Open 2 Pace, First Of Itskind, with Ricky Macomber, Jr. in the bike, scored in 1:52 for his first Pompano Park win in three tries. Heart Felt was second for Bryce Fenn, three parts-of-a-length away, while Rockntouch closed stoutly along the inside to finish third, just a nostril or two further back. Fritzie Pick Up Man finished fourth while Cadillac Phil, prominent all the way in the garden spot, picked up the nickel. First Of Itskind, a six year-old altered son of Western Terror, started from post eight and won an early war with Cadillac Phil and Heart Felt, taking command at the opening station in :27.1 and then wiring subsequent panels of :55.4 and 1:23.2 before holding off his main two challengers with a :28.3 finale. Trained by Jason Robinson for owner Robert Main, First Of Itskind won for the 17th time in his career stretching 94 starts to send his lifetime earnings to $175,501. As the 6 to 5 tote-board favorite, First Of Itskind returned $4.40 to win. Racing continues on Monday night with the popular "Over-The-Hill Gang" trot the feature. The classy sextet includes the 31 time winner My Revenuer, a winner of four of his last five starts in this class, She's All In, with 28 lifetime victories and Bad Angel, looking for a repeat win in this class, among others. Post time is set at 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park                              

Freehold, NJ --- Emile Johnson Jr. was looking for a young, up-and-coming harness racing trainer to condition horses for him in New England. Jim Mattison was looking to re-establish himself as a trainer and driver following a stint in the Army. That was 45 years ago. The two men were introduced to each other, hit it off, and have remained partners in racing ever since. And they are continuing to reap the rewards of their long-lasting friendship with top open-class pacer Panocchio. A 7-year-old son of No Pan Intended-Panitarium, Panocchio has won 51 of 111 career races and earned $415,368 in purses. He is 3-for-3 this year, with all his victories coming in the open handicap division at his winter home of Pompano Park. In fact, Panocchio has won nine of 10 starts since returning to Pompano in October. “That’s a once in a lifetime,” Johnson said about getting a horse like Panocchio, who was purchased by Johnson and Mattison for $23,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale Mixed Sale following his 2-year-old season with Bob McIntosh. “You can’t get spoiled, and Panocchio is the kind of horse that could spoil you, because they’re not all like him. He’s the very best that I ever had.” That’s not to say the 79-year-old Johnson and 67-year-old Mattison haven’t enjoyed their share of success over the years. One of their earliest top horses was Mar Con Cadet, who was a standout on the New Hampshire Sire Stakes circuit in the mid-1970s and earned $105,062 in his career. “We went on from there,” Mattison said. “We’ve had some dry spells, but we’ve had some pretty good racehorses over the years. I don’t really want to fool with the yearlings anymore. I try to buy 2-year-olds coming 3. That’s how we bought Panocchio.” Johnson, a retired schoolteacher and baseball and soccer coach, lives in Athol, Mass., and has been involved in harness racing since the early 1970s. While looking for a trainer during those early years, he asked owner Paul Welcome for suggestions because he respected Welcome’s opinion. “He said there was a young man that had just gotten out of the service and his name is Jim Mattison,” Johnson said. “He told me, ‘I think you would like him. He’s aggressive, he’s young.’ We were introduced and I recognized immediately that he knew what he was doing. He’d been brought up around horses and he certainly knew his way around the racetrack. We’ve had a great relationship from that time on. Over the years we’ve had close to 80 or 90 horses together. “He is a true horseman and gentleman, and a friend. We’ve been very, very good friends.” Mattison, from Bennington, Vt., got his start in harness racing at the age of 12 when his parents bought him a racehorse. He had numerous relatives in the business and was ready to return to the sport after getting out of the Army in 1971. He met Johnson and the rest is history. “We’ve really had no arguments or disagreements over the years,” said Mattison, who spends the winters in Pompano Park and summers in Saratoga. “It’s been great.” Johnson often visits Mattison and his wife Vicki once a year in Florida and then spends many of his summer weekends driving three hours from Athol to Saratoga to enjoy the races with the Mattisons. “I look forward to it,” Johnson said, adding with a laugh, “It’s a short drive home when the horses do well.” Panocchio helps make Johnson and Mattison feel good no matter where they are located at the time. The gelding has been particularly strong at Pompano Park, winning 30 of 43 lifetime races at the track while hitting the board a total of 39 times. In 2015, Panocchio paced the fastest mile in the history of the venue, winning in 1:48.3. “That was exciting,” Mattison said. “When we walked in the paddock after the race people came out of the stalls and were giving high fives and slapping him on the butt. It kind of brought tears to your eyes. I’ve never seen that happen. “He likes Pompano. I think he likes the weather and the five-eighths-(mile track). He’s done well at (half-mile oval) Saratoga, he’s won a lot of races there, but the bigger track is easier on him because there is a little more time getting to the first turn.” Panocchio didn’t show Mattison much desire to go fast when the trainer first started working with the horse at age 3. But as soon as Mattison put the race bike on Panocchio and put him in a field of horses “it was like turning on a switch.” That remains the case to this day as the gelding is still not fond of training. “If you go a mile in less than (2):20 you’re doing pretty good,” Mattison said about Panocchio’s workouts. “But when he’s behind the gate and the light turns on he’s pretty gritty. Even when he’s tired and they come to him they have quite a chore to get by him. Not that they don’t, but they have quite a chore. “It doesn’t matter where he gets away, he’s going to try. He’s a real joy.” Johnson and Mattison have three horses at the moment. Two were purchased at last fall’s Standardbred Horse Sale Mixed Sale and are being prepped to race this season. But having Panocchio gives Johnson and Mattison something to look forward to on a regular basis. When Johnson can’t be at the track, he is glued to his computer to watch the horse. “There’s only one place I’m going to be, and that’s there,” Johnson said. “I don’t miss it.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

Pompano Beach, FL...January 15, 2017...For the ninth time in 10 tries since his return to harness racing at Pompano Park, Panocchio won the top pace on Sunday night (January 15)--the $12,000 Open Handicap Pace. The seven year-old gelded son of No Pan Intended, handled again by Wally Hennessey and assigned the outside post in his quintet, zoomed out of the gate into the lead before yielding to Drachan Hanover (John MacDonald) at the opener in :26.3. A stride of two later, Panocchio brushed up to regain the top spot and carded subsequent panels of :55.1 and 1:24.1 before a :28 finale sealed the deal by 1 ¾ lengths over the late charging Bluehourpower (Corey Braden). Legal Spike (Ricky Macomber, Jr.) finished another neck back in third while Fritzie Pic Up Man garnered fourth money. Drachan Hanover picked up the nickel. After the event, Hennessey, once again, had high praise for Panocchio saying, "Jim (trainer Mattison) and his wife, Vicki, keep this horse in such great condition week after week. It's just amazing that he can keep sharp for this extended period of time...just amazing. "He just does what he has to do to win. Being 'handicapped' with the outside post when it's the five post actually helps this horse as he is ready to go when the gate springs. "He got to the top easily enough and, when MacDonald came at me, I thought it best to let him go and retake, hoping that I wouldn't get in a war with him since his horse missed last week. "When we got to the half in a reasonable (:55.1), we didn't really have any threats on the backside, although I did give him one tap to keep him interested. When we hit the third quarter in 1:24.1, I was confident he could get home." In keeping his 2017 record unblemished--now 3-for-3--Panocchio sent his seasonal bounty to $18,000 and $415,368 career-wise with 51 wins, including the track record at Pompano in 1:48.3 for Emile Johnson, Jr., who co-owns with trainer Jim Mattison. Off at a dime-to-a-dollar in the betting, Panocchio paid $2.20 to win. The $10,000 Open 2 Pace went to Mystic Desire, handled by Aaron Byron, stopped the clock in 1:50.4 to score his initial win of the year in just two starts. The classy nine year-old son of Real Desire used that coveted five post to push the Hummer Starting Gate out of the way at the start and scorched panels of :26.1, :53.2 and 1:22 before stepping home in :28.4 to seal the issue over the late charging Respectable Dream (Rick Plano) with First Of Itskind (Tom Jackson) a stout closing third after trailing throughout the first five-eighths of the journey. The Optimist finished fourth while Duc Dorleans picked up the minor award in the field of six. Trained by Don Campbell for owner Tony Maione, Mystic Desire won for the 39th time in his stories career with his earnings vaulting to $843,851. As the 6 to 5 favorite on the tote-board, Mystic Desire paid $4.60 to win. Also, Wally Hennessey was honored as the leading driver during the 2015-2016 season. Hennessey claimed the title with 224 driving wins during the 126 night racing season. Hennessey also leads this year's driving colony at Pompano Park with 122 wins over the first 52 nights of the 2016-2017 season. Racing continues on Monday night with My Revenuer seeking his fourth straight win in the popular "Over-The-Hill Gang" Trot. The nine year-old gelded son of Revenue S will have Brad Kramer in the bike for owner-trainer Tom Petri. The million dollar quintet of eight year-olds and up are responsible 150 lifetime wins. The Monday card also features a Pick-6 carryover of $1,113 and a $10,000 guaranteed Pick-4 Pool. Post time is set for 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park                  

Pompano Beach, FL...January 8, 2017...The grand pacer Panocchio earned his 50th lifetime win on Sunday night (January 8) in Pompano Park's $12,000 Open Handicap Pace, conquering his five harness racing  rivals at in 1:52.1. Driven by Hall of Fame driver Wally Hennessey, the seven year-old gelded son of No Pan Intended, beginning from the outside six post on a coolish night--61o--in South Florida, took command around the opening turn and went on to post fractions of :27; :56 and 1;23.4 before a :28.2 finale left Fritzie Pic Up Man, handled by Tom Jackson, three-parts-of-a-length back in second at the wire. Bluehourpower, teamed up with Ricky Macomber, Jr., finished third after a backside binge from fourth that put him a threatening second around the final turn before faltering a bit late. Whogoesfirst used a ground saving journey to finish fourth while Duc Dorleans picked up the minor award in the field of six. After the event, driver Hennessey related, "Well, it was kinda cool tonight--not as cool as Chicago or New York--but, cool, nonetheless for Florida. I wanted to get him to the top tonight to try and control the pace and we got a nice breather in that second quarter and that helped a lot. "On the backside, Ricky's horse (Bluehourpower) was pacing strong so Panocchio, on his own, picked up the pace and held him at bay and, in the lane, he was on his own all the way home. "Considering the cool temperature, he did just fine!" In garnering his 50th career victory in 110 lifetime starts, Panocchio sent his bankroll to $409,368--$12,000 of that in the first eight days of this new year. The brilliant pacer has won 28 of his 41 career starts at Pompano Park and currently holds the track record of 1:48.3. Owned by Emile Johnson, Jr. along with trainer Jim Mattison, Panocchio enriched his multitude of backers with a win mutual of $2.40. The $10,000 Open 2 Pace went to Legal Spike, trained by Jamie Macomber for owner and driver Ricky Macomber, Jr. The six year-old altered son of Third Straight, a $5,000 claim some three months ago, has steadily moved up the ladder since, and, on this night, used two moves to score in 1:52.2, his margin of victory 1½ lengths over the late charging Mystic Desire, driven by Aaron Byron. Abreathofreshart was third for Wally Hennessey while Rockntouch finished fourth. Secretsoftheknight, last half way through the mile, rallied to pick up the nickel in the field of nine. Legal Spike, leaving from post five, pushed the Hummer Starting Gate out of the way to take command early with Pop Cop (post 7) and Ideal Fashion (post 8) both on the prowl with the latter taking the field to the opener in a hot :27 with Pop Cop next and Legal Spike third--but not for long. Three-eighths into the mile, Legal Spike was back on top, posting subsequent panels of :55 and 1:23.3 before his :28.4 sprint home sealed the deal. Legal Spike won for the 13th time career-wise to send his lifetime bankroll to $113,987--$25,200 of that since the Hoosier Park claim on October 13. Off at 6 to 5 on the tote-board, Legal Spike paid $4.40 to win. Racing continues on Monday night with the $12,000 Open Trot with Cashahallic installed as the 3 to 1 morning line choice in the field of nine. The nine year-old Richie Silverman trainee comes into the action looking to add to his lifetime bankroll of $336,765. Aaron Byron is expected in the bike. Post time is set for 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park              

Pompano Beach, FL...January 1, 2017...The grand harness racing 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 1¾ 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, 2¼ lengths away. The 3 to 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. by John Berry for Pompano Park      

The "unbelievable" Panocchio stretched his harness racing winning streak to six at Pompano Park on Sunday night after being forced to change his usual front stepping tactics in a come from behind win for Wally Hennessey in 1:50.2.   The six year-old son of No Pan Intended, starting from the outside eight post, had to come from near the back of the pack as more than half of the field went in search of the top spot early, resulting in an opening quarter of :25.1, tied for the fastest opening panel in Pompano park history.   It was the New Zealand bred invader Alta Jerome N, driven by John Mac Donald, that eventually made the top spot from post six with Sing For Me George, post five, (Kevin Wallis) settling in the pocket right behind the blazing leader.   Meanwhile, Panocchio was seventh and close to 10 lengths back early and remained in that spot while the half was sizzled in :53.2. On the backside, Panocchio was out and following live cover third over as the field began to tighten up. At the third station, timed in 1;21.1, Alta Jerome was still in front Duc Dorleans (Rick Plano) right along-side, Sing For Me George bottled up in third Blue Hour Power next and Panocchio widest of all.   In the lane, Duc Dorleans took command but was no match for the late charging Panocchio, who mowed by in mid-stretch and drew clear late.   In a post-race interview, driver Wally Hennessey related, "Well, this was something! This was something! This horse just does unbelievable things. Of course, we couldn't use our usual tactics because they threw the (kitchen) sink as us early with all the leavers. I had no choice but to take back and, when you spot a field as great as this 10 lengths, it is very tough to overcome. Of course, the speed out of the gate helped up and you know that was unsustainable but, still, to do what he did tonight was 'unbelievable.'   "Again, kudos to Jim (trainer Mattison) and Vicki (his wife) because they keep this horse so sharp. I really don't get how they do it!"   For Panocchio, owned by trainer Mattison along with Emile Johnson, Jr., it was his 12th win of the year in 25 starts, matching his win total of last season. He now has 48 lifetime wins in 107 starts and $395,928 in career bounty--$105,161 this year.   As second choice at 8 to 5, Panocchio paid $5.40 to win, his highest win payoff during this six race winning streak.   In the $10,000 Open 2 Pace, No Bad Dreams, driven by Dave Ingraham, lowered his mark to 1:50 with a gritty win over pacesetting Pop Cop (John Mac Donald). Cadillac Phil (Wally Hennessey) finished third while Winyard Hanover, going an "even-steven" mile, finished fourth. Grande Seelster picked up the minor award in the field of nine.   It was Pop Cop who pushed the starting gate wings out of the way and that one blazed an opening quarter in :26.1. followed by a half in :54.2.   Meanwhile, No Bad Dreams, sixth and unhurried early on, was out and grinding under the line the first time reaching fourth at the midway point. On the backside, No Bad Dreams kept gnawing away and was just a tad more than a length away at the third station timed in 1:22.   In the lane, No Bad Dreams and Pop Cop got in a slugfest with to the wire with No Bad Dreams edging to the fore in the final stages.   After the race, Ingraham said, "he's just one of those horses that keeps grinding away and grinding away. Tonight, he was very sharp and very determined. He must have paced his last three-quarters in 1:22 or so to get it done tonight. Kinda shows you how great a job Marc (trainer Aubin) still does.   Owned by Jacalyn and Dan Boddie, No Bad Dreams, a five year-old son of Dream Away, won for the fourth time this year with his seasonal earnings now at $36,885. He's banked just short of $100,000 lifetime--$99,697 to be precise.   Off as the 2 to 1 second choice, No Bad Dreams paid $6.80 to win.   In the Open Pace for three and four year-olds, Rockntouch, handled by Mickey McNichol, put his main rival, Alone In Spades, in the pocket and then went on to score a gate-to-wire win in 1:51.4.   The four year-old gelded son of Rock N Roll Heaven, trained by McNichol for Salvatore Promuto and the Fred Monteleone Stable, carded fractions of :27.4, :55.1 and 1;23.3 before a :28.1 sprint home held Alone in Spades (Kevin Wallis) safe by three-parts-of-a-length.   Conman's Dream (Corey Braden) finished third while Musashi finished fourth. Owosso Flash picked up the nickel in the field shortened to six with a pair of scratches.   For Rockntouch, it was his 10th win of the year in 35 starts, sending his seasonal bounty to $60,534 and $106,420 lifetime.   As the 1 to 2 favorite, Rockntouch paid $3.00 to his multitude of followers.   In an $8,500 conditioned event for pacers, the Northfield Park invader, Mystic Desire, driven by Aaron Byron, scored in 1:50.1. This eight year-old son of Real Desire was unhurried early as Respectable Dream (John Mac Donald) and Steelhead Hanover (Mike Simons) played "musical chairs" early through hot fractions of :26.1, :53.4 and 1:21.1 before going on a stretch binge that left him 3½ lengths to the good of Respectable Dream with Team Captain (Kevin Wallis) next. Steelhead Hanover finished fourth while Cartoonist picked up the minors.   Trained by Mark Winacott for owner Tony Malone, the classy Mystic Desire won for the 10th time this year to send his lifetime bankroll to $835,151--$49,242 this semester.   Off at 6 to 1 as fourth choice, Mystic Desire paid $14.00 to win.   In yet another noteworthy performance, Dynamite Dude, a relatively recent arrival in North America from "down under," got his first pari-mutuel win in the U.S.A. by scoring a 1:51 win for Mike Simons.   The eight year-old altered son of The Wrath of Pan, owned by Albert Abdala III along with trainer-driver Simons, smartly stayed off the sizzling early pace of :27, :54.2 and 1:22.1 before wending his way widest of all in the lane to get by the two dueling favorites--pacesetting Oh My Joepa (John MacDonald) and pocket-sitting Del Rio Seelster (Wally Hennessey) to score by three-quarters of a length.   Coming into the event with a U.S. mark of 1:57.4 in a Pocono Downs qualifier back in late June, Dynamite Dude came into this $10,000 claiming event with a 16-0-0-4 scorecard since his arrival and posted his 22nd lifetime win--21 of those, of course, Down Under. He's banked $169,141 lifetime--only $8,065 so far in North America.   Dismissed at 10 to 1 in the betting, Dynamite Dude returned $22.40 to win.   Racing continues on Monday night with the Open Trot for mares the headliner.   Post time is 7:20 p.m.   by John Berry for Pompano Park

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