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Versatility a Plus for Firstclassallthway (01/05/13)

Posted Saturday January 5, 2012

                                                     By Mike Paradise

  George Procopi’s Firstclassallthway looks to start off the New Year the same way he ended the old one—with a victory in Balmoral Park’s invite ranks against the best horses on the grounds.

  The now 6-year-old gelding pulled off a surprise victory at 8-1 odds a week ago with Marcus Miller and he did it in front-end fashion on a racetrack than might have been rated “fast” but wasn’t according to his 23-year-old driver.

  "The track was slow last Saturday,” said Marcus. “You couldn’t go too fast with your horse because you couldn’t finish.”

  Firstclassallthway took over the lead in that Invite on the backside and was well rated to a 1:53 winning mile, holding off the pocket horse and early leader Fort Silky by three-quarters of a length.

  “I’ve driven Fort Silky many times and I knew he was the fastest horse off the (starting) car,” continued Miller. “I got position behind him and because we weren’t going that fast I got around him and took over the lead without my horse getting hurt too badly.”

  In fact Miller was able to give Firstclassallthway a :30 second breather through the second quarter before Iam Bonasera came thundering up first over.

  “When we were in the last turn I heard Todd (driven Warren) getting after Iam Bonasera to keep him going forward so that’s when I pulled the (ear)plugs on my horse and tried to put as much distance between us.

  “I also know Iam Bonsera very well and he’s much better in the straight-away than in a turn.”

  Saturday’s start will be Firstclassallthway’s 50th in the last 54 weeks who ended 2012 13 victories and over $130,000 for his Indiana owner and his trainer Angie Affrunti.

  “Even with all the starts he’s been making Firstclassallthway was just as sound last Saturday as he has even been when I’ve driven him,” said Miller.

  With the victory Marcus knew the horse would be handicapped further outside but as it turned out he’s almost right in the middle with the five-slot in an eight-horse $17,000 feature.

  “Firstclassallthway a very versatile horse and he can take a little bit of air but I believe he’s best if you can race him second or third over,” continued Marcus. “He likes it that way the most. So if he gets handicapped with an outside post it isn’t that big of a factor for him.”

  There’s plenty of speed starting inside of Firstclassallthway with Kansas Wildcat (10-1, Ryan Anderson), Touch The Rock (8-1, Sam Widger), Fort Silky (10-1, Casey Leonard) and Power Of Tara N (9-2, John Roberts) with posts 1 through 4, in that order.

  And St Elmo Hero is back in action after his strong 1:51.2 triumph in mid-December and he could be floated out again with his newest driver Mike Oosting).

  Firstclassallthway will also have to contend with Al’s Hammered (4-1, Bobby Smolin) and Iam Bonasera (6-1, Todd Warren), a pair of strong closers leaving from the 6 and 7 slots, respectively.

  Right Place: Mike Price Shots delivered Rucker Place at $14.40 Friday night at Maywood Park. It was 1 of 8 top selections on the card who were winners. 

              

    Trainer Angie Affrunti gets Firstclassallthway ready to race for Marcus Miller.

                                                                                           Balmoral Park Photo

 


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