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Panocchio Prevails By A Nose

Published: April 5, 2015 7:57 pm ET

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In a classic battle to the wire, Panocchio, driven by Bruce Ranger, held on to score a narrow decision in Pompano Park's $13,000 Open Handicap Pace on Saturday night -- ironically, by a "nose!"

The five-year-old altered son of No Pan Intended, owned by Emile Johnson Jr. along with trainer Jim Mattison, scored his first win of the season in his second start, pinning the narrow defeat on Duc Dorleans and Donald Dupont in 1:50.4.

Neptune, with Aaron Byron handling the lines, was a fast-closing third, a length away, while E Z Noah finished fourth in his second start of the 2015 season. Northern Companion, last in the early stages of the event, rallied for fifth in the septet.

At the outset, Duc Dorleans, leaving from post four, was on the engine along with Panocchio, post six, with the latter reaching the top spot prior to the opening panel in a sharp :26.2.

A well rated :29.1 breather in quarter two brought Panocchio halfway through the mile in :55.3, but Ranger revved up Panocchio on the backside as E Z Noah began his sprint, moving to the saddle pad of the leader around the final bend with three-quarters on the board in 1:23.

In the lane, Panocchio did sprint clear of E Z Noah, allowing Duc Dorleans some room to roam late and the "Duc" began gnawing into Panocchio's lead -- these two hitting the wire in "it could go either way" finish.

In a post race interview, Ranger said, "Man, I didn't know who got it! Yes, my horse went a great mile, especially considering it was only his second start...but so did Duc Dorleans. When [John] MacDonald's horse [E Z Noah] made his bid, we had already began revving up because Panocchio can brush hard a long way -- well, tonight he came home in :55.1. He kinda brushed the whole mile! Gotta give credit to Jim and Vicki [Mattison], who are so wonderfully patient with their horses. Their care is impeccable and always gives the driver an opportunity to win!"

The victory was the 25th lifetime for Panocchio in only 55 lifetime starts, sending his career bankroll to $181,066.

As 9-5 second choice on the toteboard, Panocchio paid $5.60 to his faithful followers.

In Pompano Park's Super Hi-5 event, Hurricane Howard was a gate-to-wire winner in a new lifetime-best effort of 1:51.2 for Tom Sells, keying a $1,386.06 payoff for the 20-cent consolation ticket. With four tickets out on the 5-6-4-10-1 combo, the carryover for Pompano's special Easter Sunday program is edging close to $100,000 -- $98,024 to be exact. Post time is 7:30 p.m. for the Easter program.

(With files from Pompano Park)

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