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First Off Proves It's Better Late Than Never
Published: Saturday, January 18, 2020

It took owner Frank Calabrese and trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. until midway in her 4-year-old year to finally get First Off to the races, and the daughter of First Dude finished second in her Gulfstream Park debut on June 16 of 2018. She went on to race just five times that year, then the filly took another vacation - this one lasting 14 months. 

Since then, First Off has had three more races, the latest resulting in a sharp victory yesterday in her initial visit to Tampa Bay Downs. With talented Ademar Santos in the irons, the now 6-year-old was off alertly in the 5 1/2-furlong race, battling for the lead three-wide down the backstretch in a :22.14 quarter. Santos gunned her to the lead along with one other rival on the turn in :45.33, then she put the field away and won by 2 1/2 lengths, clocked in an excellent 1:04.01. 

It was the second victory in a row for First Off, who has posted a record of 3-2-1-2 in eight career starts, with earnings of $43,147. She became her sire's third winner in January, and First Dude's earnings could reach $100,000 for the month today.  

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