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Surclasser takes Chucaro Ahijuna final
Sunday, January 12, 2014 - by John Berry, for Pompano Park

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Pompano Beach, FL --- Surclasser, caught up in a claiming whirlwind in his past two starts, would up back in his "old" owner's hands after last week's race and Sunday night returned immediate dividends by winning the $17,000 final of the Chucaro Ahijuna Late Closer at Pompano Park.

Dee Leftwich photo
Surclasser captured the $17,000 final of the Chucaro Ahijuna Late Closer at Pompano Park on Sunday night.

The 7-year-old altered son of Jailhouse Jesse, back in the stable of Casandra and Rebecca Uppal and driven this night by Jason Dillander, used his typical late charge to roll by the 6-5 favorite Frenchmen (George Napolitano, Jr.) to score by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:55.1. The early leader, Ulay Boko (Rick Plano), was third while Distracting Beauty and Jon Win also picked up awards in the field of nine.

Surclasser had been claimed from the Uppals out of the opening leg of the late closer series for $11,000 and they decided to try and reclaim the trotter out of the second leg for $12,500, a decision that paid off handsomely in the final.

Trainer Casandra Uppal said, "You know, we really didn't expect him to be claimed out of that first leg and, when he was, we were a pretty sad bunch of folk around the barn. So, we decided to try and get him back and there were multiple claims on him the second time around so luck -- and fate -- were both on our side."

Driver Dillander, celebrating birthday number 38, had praise for both trainer and horse.

"Surclasser doesn't really leave all that well but he certainly got away well tonight -- much better than I thought he would. With the hot fractions, it set up very well for him and we were in a great second over spot when we reached the three-quarters in (1):24 and change. I was very confident that he could go on from there -- and he did. Casandra did a great job with him, especially this week."

For Surclasser, it was his 32nd lifetime victory and pushed his career earnings to $305,583. As second choice on the board at 7-5, Surclasser paid $4.80 to win.

In the $10,000 Open Pace for the mares, Arodasi scored a repeat victory for Joe Pavia, Jr., stopping the timer in 1:52, a new lifetime mark.

The 5-year-old daughter of Western Terror, trained by Pavia and co-owned by his stable along with Peter Shank, Joseph Barbera and the AGC Stables, circled the field from the back of the compact field of five and paced her last half-mile in a shade under :55 to score by 2-1/4 lengths over Angel's Delight (Jason Dillander). De Vins Girl (Rick Plano) finished third, almost four lengths away, with the early pacesetters, Love You Bye (:28 to the opening quarter) and Wildfire Osborne (:55.4 and 1:23.4) rounding out the field.

For Arodasi, it was her second straight success to kick off the 2014 season and sent her lifetime bounty to $180,311. As the 2-5 chalk on the board, Arodasi paid $2.80 to win.

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