09/23/2006 12:00AM

Always First sharp in comeback over soft turf


Neither a long layoff nor being asked to run on soft turf for the first time hindered Always First in the $59,300 Cape Henlopen Stakes at Delaware Park.

A California shipper making his first start since January, Always First ($9.80) made a three-wide move to take the lead from pacesetter Willard Straight and went on to post a three-length win in the 1 1/2-mile grass marathon.

Ridden by Jose Caraballo for trainer Tom Voss, Always First got the distance over a yielding course in 2:34.10.

Willard Straight, the 7-5 favorite, finished second, three-quarters of a length in front of Minister's Joy.