02/01/2012 9:12PM

Portland Meadows: Big night for Nance

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With 26 hopefuls going to post in three divisions of the event's first leg, The Portland Meadows Route Claiming Series got underway Wednesday and trainer Jonathan Nance got off to a flying start.

With each race conducted over the one mile and seventy yard distance, the $2,500 claimers were well-prepped in hopes of earning points toward qualifying for the March 14th series final and its $25,000 purse. Series points are earned in the following format: 1st: 5 points; 2nd: 4 points; 3rd: 3 points; 4th: 2 points; 5th: 1 point. Participants must also compete in the February 20th series second leg to advance.

Nance and his rider Debbie Hoonan, who registered four wins on the card, quickly served notice that they would be a force as sprinter Swiss Exploit went all the way on the front end and fended off the brief challenge of runner-up Taking Liberties in the stretch. Admirable veteran West Seattle Boy showed mild interest to grab third. The tenacious 2 3/4 length winner went the mile and seventy in 1:44.49 and paid $9.60.

In the next division, Hoonan sat chilly on Nance's Golden Gate shipper Carlsbad Lagoon as Castle Pines sped clear under the ambitious apprentice Eliska Kubinova. The rallying Carlsbad Lagoon seized command at the furlong marker and pulled clear for a 5 length triumph. Capella Etoile stayed on to finish a non-threatening third behind the tiring pacesetter. Stopping the clock in 1:44.89, Carlsbad Lagoon returned $11.40 to his backers.

In the final division, Doctor Pav ($16.60), under a heady tactical ride from Joe Crispin, advanced along the rail and surged clear in the stretch for a 3 3/4 length score in 1:45.96. Despite a wide trip, the Nance-Hoonan runner Watch Your Money circled foes to run second. 61.90-1 longshot General Joe kept on for third.

As expected, there was solid action at the claim box during the event's three races. In a four way shake, Carlsbad Lagoon and his five points went to new owner Jeff Wilson and trainer G. Dharma Khalsa. Eleven parties dropped claims for second division 6th place finisher Turntable Bay who went to owner Charles Allen and trainer Chris Sutton.

In the third division, three connections went after Watch Your Money and twelve claims were counted for Meshaguna, the race's 9-10 favorite who faded to 7th. Owner Keith Beatty and trainer Nick Lowe got Watch Your Money and Meshaguna went to Patti Harris and trainer John Harris.