With no Open Pace on the card Monday afternoon, a $5,750 conditional race served as the feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The race had the look of an Open as seven of its eight participants showed Open lines on the program with most having competed in the feature in one of the last few weeks. Andy Sardella’s Gokudo Hanover (Cam’s Card Shark) went off as the even money favorite in the highly competitive race and despite getting the perfect trip had his hooves full with former Saratoga champion Panocchio (Brian Cross). Panocchio wanted the early lead at all costs and wound up parking out a rival in a first half that saw fractions of 27 and 55 seconds. After dispatching that challenge, it appeared the leader may be tiring around the final turn when Gokudo Hanover pocket-pulled. Panocchio, the Pacer of the Year at Saratoga in 2014 and 2015, dug down for some of that back-class turning for home and held strong in the stretch before being edged out in the final strides by Gokudo Hanover who got up to win in 1:53.1. Gokudo Hanover, who was piloted to victory by leading driver Billy Dobson, prevailed for the fifth time in twelve starts in the ’20 campaign. Panocchio was a game and gutsy second while Shady City (Larry Stalbaum) earned the show spot. Gokudo Hanover moved his career bankroll to over the $600,000 mark for current owners Mike and Bill Pozefsky of NY and Myron Ekstein of Nevada. That ownership team recorded their second win of the day when their Imsporty sprung the mild upset beating his race’s 1-5 favorite en route to a 1:53.2 score with Jimmy Devaux piloting the Sardella trainee. The win was one of four on the card for Devaux. Owners Pozefsky and Ekstein scored a hat trick in the afternoon’s finale when their Golden Kronos prevailed with John Macdonald in the sulky.
Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon when New York Sire Stakes take center stage with three year old pacing colt and geldings featured. First post time is set for 12 Noon.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino