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Armbro Operative Surprises In 51st Little Brown Jug

September 19, 1996

DELAWARE, Ohio (AP) _ Jack Moiseyev thought he might win the Little Brown Jug on Thursday, but certainly not with Armbro Operative.

Most railbirds and track insiders believed that even though there was no clearcut favorite in the second jewel of pacing’s triple crown, Oye Vay was still the class of the 27-horse field.

But after Oye Vay placed fourth in his elimination, Moiseyev didn’t have a horse in the final. Mike Lachance, who drove Armbro Operative to victory in the first elimination and Firm Belief to a win in the second, was forced to choose. He took Firm Belief in the final.

That gave Armbro Operative to Moiseyev, who made the most of his opportunity to win the final in 1:52 3-5.

``When my first horse didn’t make it, it was a pleasant surprise to pick up this horse,″ Moiseyev said.

Lachance went from the day’s big winner to its biggest loser in less than two minutes.

Before the final, he explained why he was taking Firm Belief over Armbro Operative: ``I just think maybe Firm Belief can do a little more. He’s a little quicker, a little easier to maneuver in the turns. But the other horse raced well today.″

Firm Belief _ and Lachance _ faded from first at the half to last at the finish.

Lachance had guided Armbro Operative to an upset in the first elimination. A winner of just three of his 18 starts this year coming into the first elimination, Armbro Operative stung favored Stout to win by six lengths and match Nick’s Fantasy year-old Jug record of 1:51 2-5.

In the final, the 3-year-old son of Cam Fella was in third at the first two quarters, climbed into the top spot by the three-quarters pole and held on to win by two lengths over A Stud Named Sue with Mattduff third.

It was the second Jug victory for Moiseyev, who also won behind Precious Bunny in 1991.

``It’s even better the second time,″ Moiseyev said. ``I was happy with the speed duel in the quarter and thought it took some sting out of Firm Belief. When I moved him at the half, he felt strong. Turning for home, he felt like a winner.″

The combined 3:44 matched the world record for two heats on a half-mile track, set by Life Sign in winning the 1993 Jug. The victory was worth $215,260.

Armbro Operative, trained by Brett Pelling, is owned by Thomas J. Walsh Jr. of Woodbury, N.Y. and David H. McDuffee of Nashua, N.H. They won the Jug two years ago with Magical Mike.

Presented a huge silver bowl in the winner’s circle, McDuffee said, ``I’m going to fill it right up with something and drink it down.″

The winner paid $5.80, $3.80, $4.20, with A Stud Named Sue returning $8 and $5.80 and Mattduff paying $8 before 54,011, the second largest Jug crowd ever.

A Stud Named Sue driver George Brennan said, ``I couldn’t clear cover soon enough. If I had, it would have been a closer race.″

Armbro Operative went off as the second betting choice at 9-5, behind Firm Belief, who was even money.

Scoot To Power, surprise winner of the Cane Pace on Aug. 24, finished fourth in his try at taking the second leg of the triple crown for 3-year-old pacers. Mattropolis, who set a lifetime mark of 1:52 3-5 in winning the third elimination, was fifth in the final.

The third leg of the triple crown, the Messenger, is Oct. 12 at The Meadows.

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