Nine sprinters have been entered in Saturday’s 22nd
running of the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel
Park, including local star Ben’s Cat. Post time for the 11-race card
will be 1:10 p.m. Eastern.
in 1990, the De Francis Dash is one of the elite six-furlong sprints in
the country with four of the 21 winners-Housebuster (1991), Cherokee
Run (1994), Smoke Glacken (1997) and Thor’s Echo (2006)-earning Eclipse
Award honors for champion sprinter.
Fall Festival of Racing card also features five open stakes races on
the turf: the Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds, the Selima Stakes for
2-year-old fillies, the six-furlong Laurel Dash, the Lady Baltimore
Stakes for fillies and mares, the 1-1/2 mile Laurel Turf Cup plus the
Jameela Stakes for Maryland-breds.
King Leatherbury cross-entered Ben’s Cat, one of the top turf sprinters
in the country, into the De Francis Dash and the $100,000 Laurel Dash, a
race he won two years ago. The 7-year-old is 8-of-12 on the dirt,
including three stakes scores, though 13 of his last 14 starts have been
on the grass. The son of Parker’s Storm Cat has 14 turf stakes wins on
has been on our radar since last year when the winner didn’t run any
faster than Ben’s Cat has on the dirt,” Leatherbury said. “Once we found
out it was a full field on the turf, we decided to cross-enter and will
handicap the De Francis and have a choice. There doesn’t appear to be
any super horses in the race. Early in his career he ran some big races
on the dirt but we decided to keep him on the turf and dodge some of the
really top horses on the main track. We can make more money by
finishing second in the De Francis than winning the other one, which is a
good situation to be in. It will be fun to handicap and see where we
end up running.”
Maryland Jockey Club handicapper Keith Feustle has made Ben’s Cat, the 9-2 second choice on the morning line.
Valley is the 9-5 morning line favorite. The son of Discreet Cat has a
pair of graded victories this year, visiting the winners’ circle in the
Maryland Sprint Handicap at Pimlico in May and the James Marvin at
Saratoga in July. In his last start, the Rudy Rodriguez trainee was
fifth in the Forego (G1).
are bringing him back a little quickly but he seemed to come out of
that race pretty good,” Rodriguez said. “I think he should be close to
the lead and if he doesn’t break well we will be close. It would be nice
if he could run as big as he did on Preakness day. He is a very nice
looking, well-bred horse. We are having fun with him and hope that
Cornelio Velasquez will ride Sage Valley.
Charm (5-1) has had a consistent 4-year-old campaign for Steve Asmussen
with five in the money finishes in seven starts, including a third
place finish in the Tom Fool (G3). Rosie Napravnik, who has four career
riding titles at Laurel in her career, has the call.
(6-1) won the City of Laurel Stakes here last December and crossed the
finish line second in the General George Handicap (G3) two months later
but was placed fifth after bumping another runner early in the race.
Since then, the Bob Baffert trainee has been off the board in a pair of
starts. Martin Garcia, who teamed up with Baffert to win the 2010
Preakness Stakes (G1) on Lookin At Lucky, has the riding assignment.
Villano (6-1) lost last year’s De Francis Dash by a nose to Action Andy
but came back to win the Dave’s Friend Stakes two months later. The
4-year-old son of Pollard’s Vision has been out of the money just twice
in 12 starts. The Susan Crowell trainee has been off since a second
place finish in the General George (G2).
Eyes (8-1) finished a 1-1/2 lengths behind Action Andy and Il Villano
in last year’s De Francis Dash despite nearly going down to his knees
leaving the starting gate. It was the second close call in the De
Francis for the son of Greatness who finished second in the 2011
running. Trainer Damon Dilodovico has run the 8-year-old eight times
this year with four victories, including two stakes scores at Monmouth
Park over the summer. Travis Dunkelberger is his regular rider.
are hoping we can get it done for Mr. Abbo (owner Robert Abbo) and
Immortal Eyes,” Dilodovico said. “Personally I thought he was much the
best last year. He broke poorly and ran a huge race. We were
disappointed to finish third but the effort was top-notch. He is an
exceptional athlete. He just loves Monmouth. Even in the race he lost
last out (Icecapade Stakes), he set some monster fractions and got beat
by a horse on a seven race winning streak. We love the outside post. He
is more versatile than it looks on paper. We could be forwardly placed
or sit back.”
will also saddle Service for Ten (10-1). The gelding has finished in
the money seven times in eight starts since being claimed by owner Mark
Lapidus nearly two years ago, with five trips to the winners’ circle.
Daniel Centeno, who was aboard for a victory in the Vincent Moscarelli
Stakes at Delaware Park in his last start, will ride.
spotted this horse,” added Dilodovico. “I was kind of wishy-washy with
the claim but he really wanted him and deserves much of the credit for
the success he has had since coming into the barn.”
Rule (20-1), who finished fifth in the 2012 De Francis Dash, has 11 in
the money finishes in 16 starts on his home track, including a victory
in the Fire Plug Stakes and a third in the General George Handicap (G3)
earlier this year.
Royal Currier (30-1) was ninth in last year’s race. The 5-year-old son of Preakness winner Red Bullet is 0-for-3 this year.
$350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (10th Race)
Trainer Odds Lifetime
Saturday’s Charm Rosie Napravnik Steve
Asmussen 5-1 13-3-3-3, $207,850
Brigand Martin Garcia
Bob Baffert 6-1 16-5-5-0,
Service for Ten Daniel Centeno
Damon Dilodovico 10-1 10-6-1-2, $152,510
Royal Currier Angel Serpa
Joseph Mazza 30-1 32-12-8-3, $722,550
5 Ben’s Cat Julian Pimentel King Leatherbury 9-2 34-22-3-3, $1,635,640
Sage Valley Cornelio Velasquez Rudy
Rodriguez 9-5 11-6-0-3, $330,200
Il Villano Julian Pimentel
Susan Crowell 6-1
Immortal Eyes Travis Dunkelberger Damon
Dilodovico 8-1 46-16-13-4, $880,051
Broad Rule Forest Boyce
Dickie Small 20-1 22-6-7-7, $319,215
is a capsule of the other stakes races on Saturday’s program. A more
detailed advance on the Fall Festival of Racing undercard will be
produced later in the week:
$100,000 Laurel Futurity (2nd race)
Plesa is shipping Tyro Stakes winner Yes I’m Lucky to the 5-1/2 furlong
test on the inner course, where he’ll meet up to seven other juveniles.
$100,000 Jameela Stakes (4th race)
Maryland-bred fillies and mares are entered in the six-furlong sprint
on the turf, including probable favorite Madame Giry, who won a stakes
race at Saratoga in her last start.
$100,000 Selima Stakes (6th race)
2-year-old fillies are entered to race 5-1/2 furlongs in this historic
autumn classic, with seven of the juvenile runners coming into the race
off a victory.
$100,000 Lady Baltimore Stakes (7th race)
stakes winners are in abundance as thirteen fillies and mares are
entered to go eight-and-a-half furlongs in this wide open affair slated
for the turf.
$100,000 Laurel Dash (8th race)
Cat has won 22-of-34 lifetime starts with 17 stakes scores for earnings
of $1,635,640. Up to nine challengers could face the King Leatherbury
$100,000 Laurel Turf Cup (9th race)
Defending champion Dannhauser is one of sixteen runners entered (fourteen can run) in this 1-1/2 mile marathon on the turf.
Ramon Dominguez Salute & Autograph Session
addition to the racing, Eclipse Award-winning jockey Ramon Dominguez,
who retired in June due to the severity of injuries sustained in a spill
at Aqueduct in January, will make a special appearance. A regular rider
at Laurel and Pimlico Race Course for five years early in his career,
Dominguez will be saluted with a winners’ circle presentation after the
second race. The Maryland Jockey Club will make a donation to Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) in his name. Dominguez will then conduct an autograph session from 2-3 p.m.
Venezuela native arrived in Maryland in 2000 and won 1,012 races at the
major Maryland tracks over the next five years, including 297 victories
in 2001. In 2003, he earned his first Grade 1 score when he guided A
Huevo to victory in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.