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Surprise in Maywood Friday Feature (01/11/13)
Posted Friday January 11, 2012
By Mike Paradise
I was surprised to see recent Balmoral Invite winner Firstclassallthway shift over to Maywood for Friday’s feature but I’m sure I wasn’t alone. I’m certain many of the horse’s opposition owners and trainers were also a bit stunned to see him in the fourth race headliner.
After all, Firstclassallthway captured no less than six Invitational pacers in 2012 at Balmoral, including a pair of them in his last six starts.
However, since the pacer got a fifth place $850 check in another and went unplaced the other three times in his last 6 races, he made $150 under the primary condition: “Non-winners of $9,500 last 5 starts.”
Firstclassallthway raced second-over a good portion of the way last Saturday but after going three-deep in the last turn he flatted out in the lane and ended up seventh, beaten almost four lengths.
“The horse wasn’t himself in last week’s invitational,” said his trainer Angie Affrunti. “Even before the race he didn’t seem to be 100 per cent and I even thought of scratching him. It turned out he was a little sick so I’ve been working on him all week to get that cleared-up.
“Hopefully he’ll be near his best and will get a little bit of a trip Friday,” continued Maywood’s leading trainer of 2012. “I trained him Wednesday and I was a little surprised the way he picked it up in the second half of his mile by himself. He came home a pretty good last quarter so I think he’ll be o.k. for Friday.”
While eight of Firstclassallthway’s 13 victories last year came on Balmoral’s big track, he also had five wins at Maywood and all in the same type of conditioned paces as Friday’s event.
The now six-year-old gelding started off 2012 as a $10,000 claimer last January at Maywood and rose to be one of the top-level horses on the circuit, making over $130,000 for Indiana owner George Procopi.
Firstclassallthway was also was one of the busiest, making 48 starts in the circuit’s 52 weeks of racing.
“The horse is a brute and he loves to compete,” added Angie.
Firstclassallthway couldn’t have drawn better than he did for Friday’s fourth race feature. He has the pole position when he opens up as the 8-5 favorite.
Brian Carpenter replaces Marcus Miller who is at The Meadowlands to drive the ICF star mare Mystical Mistress in an Open Handicap. Marcus also has three other drives on that New Jersey card. He'll be back in time for Saturday's Balmoral program.
Taking on Firstclassallthway is (from the two-slot out) Raging Cam (4-1), I Scoot Sam (5-1), Sporty Gypsy (8-1), Voomerang (10-1), Rucker Place (12-1), Prime Escape (15-1) and Perrito Caliente (8-1).
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(Mike Paradise writes an additional weekly column—Trot Topics—in Saturday's The Daily Journal. The Kankakee, IL based newspaper has expanded its coverage of racing at Balmoral Park and welcomes comments and questions on Illinois harness racing.