10/10/2014 7:28AM

Balmoral: American-National a stepping stone for Weeper

Chris Gooden
Weeper looks for her third straight win on Saturday.

Driver Dave Palone spends less and less time away from his home track The Meadows these days. “I’m not looking to travel to pick up checks,” Palone said. “I want to have a shot to win.”

This Saturday night, Palone will steer the talented three-year-old pacing filly Weeper in the $173,500 American-National at Balmoral Park. The Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion lass has been on an incredible roll recently and Palone is hopeful she can continue her march, perhaps towards year-end honors.

“I like her because she’s fresh right now,” said Palone, “Kelly (trainer O’Donnell) has done a great job with her spacing out her races. When you get to this time of the year I think that makes a huge difference.”

Indeed, while six of the other nine fillies in the field of ten spent the last two weeks in Kentucky racing consecutive stakes races at The Red Mile, Weeper tuned-up for the American-National with a 1:51 victory on September 29 at The Meadows in a Keystone Classic division for state-breds.

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The three-year-old filly pacing division has not had a consistent leader throughout much of the season. The American-National is the first of many pivotal contests slated this fall that should help solidify the champion.

Weeper gets her chance to make a claim on Saturday starting from post eight. With six wins in 11 starts this year, the daughter of Allamerican Native has the highest win percentage of any in the field, but to date has not had a signature win in Grand Circuit competition.

“She’s got high speed and can carry it,” said Palone. “If there’s one thing that has hurt her this year it’s been the draw.”

After capturing an elimination race for the Lynch in 1:49 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs this June, Weeper drew post eight in the final and never had a chance. Her next start was the Mistletoe Shalee at the Meadowlands where she landed post seven and finished a solid second to then unbeaten Sandbetweenurtoes. That may have been her most impressive performance since she left out in :26 and change and came home just as fast.

“I think the big track suits her fine,” said Palone of Saturday’s assignment, while not particularly caring much for the outside draw.

The American-National matches the best fillies in North America, with NYSS champion It Was Fascination (post 3) and Miss New Jersey winner Gettingreadytoroll (post 6) among the top contenders.

Trainer Casie Coleman has a potential star in Major Dancer, a winner in half of her 14 starts this season, the daughter of Art Major drew post four and appears fresh coming off a spectacular 1:53 qualifying mile at Harrah’s Philadelphia on September 30. Her last half in that effort was :53 4/5.

The American-National field also includes some of last year’s standout fillies still trying to make a name in 2014. Last year’s Breeders Crown champion Ufizzi Hanover bounced back nicely from some disappointing miles at The Red Mile in last week’s Garnsey Memorial. The Jimmy Takter-trained daughter of Well Said landed the rail for Saturday’s contest.

Precocious Beauty won seven of 11 starts as a juvenile, but the divisional champion has not seen the winner’s circle as often this year. Now racing with Lasix, Precocious Beauty starts from post five.

The Western Ideal-sired filly Act Now had also been struggling to find the winner’s circle until an impressive wire-to-wire performance at The Red Mile last weekend in the Garnsey. She landed post two.

The American-National for three-year-old fillies is the first leg of the late Pick 4 that promises a $20,000 guarantee. The second and third legs of the wager are as competitive. Race 11 is the $227,000 American-National division for three-year-old male pacers, pitting recent Tattersalls Pace winner J K Endofanera against Little Brown Jug champion Limelight Beach. Those two landed posts nine and eight respectively in the field of ten and are not likely to have a cakewalk. Somewhere In LA has earned nearly $400,000 this year and could provide serious competition for the aforementioned pair, that is if he can overcome post ten.

Foiled Again drew post six and is the horse to beat in the $179,000 American-National for four-year-olds and up, race 12 on the program. Now with lifetime earnings in excess of $6.6 million, Foiled Again will try to turn the tables on his conqueror in the Allerage Farms Pace at the Red Mile last week State Treasurer (post 4).

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