De Francis Dash matches up X Y Jet, Sweetontheladies – again

De Francis Dash matches up X Y Jet, Sweetontheladies – again
Photo: Lauren King

Multiple graded-stakes placed Sweetontheladies was already more than an hour into the approximately 1,100-mile van ride from South Florida to Laurel Park earlier this week when trainer Henry Collazo’s phone rang.

The Fall Festival of Racing program featuring seven stakes worth $900,000 in purses scheduled for Saturday was being pushed back a week to Sept. 22, due to the poor weather forecast as a result of Hurricane Florence.


“I was on the road when I got the call saying they were postponing. I got as far as Jupiter [Fla.] and came back home,” Gulfstream Park-based Collazo said. “We’re planning on going back up there on Monday and hopefully everything is good by then.”


Collazo is sticking with his plan to bring Sweetontheladies back in the 27th running of the $250,000 XpressBet Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3), which highlights an action-packed day of racing set to begin with a first post of 12:30 p.m.


A stakes winner at 2 and 3 in his native Florida, the 4-year-old Twirling Candy colt owned by The Four Horsemen Racing Stable and Lady Lindsay Racing Stables has gone winless in eight starts this year but has finished in the money in five of those races, three of them graded-stakes.


Third in the Sunshine Millions Sprint to open 2018, Sweetontheladies ran second in the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) March 3 and was promoted to second in the Smile Sprint (G3) June 30, both over his home track, the latter at odds of 91-1. He has ventured north only once previously, finishing third at 35-1 behind Imperial Hint in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) July 28 at Saratoga.


“I like Maryland. We went up there with Mucho Mas Macho a couple of years back and I used to be stabled in Maryland. I like the area. It’s one of [The Stronach Group] tracks and I like to support them as much as I can,” Collazo said. “It just looks like a good spot. My owner likes to take a chance. That’s why we went to Saratoga and it worked out, so we’re taking another chance up there and hopefully we get some pace to run at. It could be really interesting.”

Mucho Mas Macho, 41-1 winner of the 2013 Fort. Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream, is Collazo’s only previous graded-stakes victory. In four races in Maryland, Mucho Mas Macho ran third in the 2013 Laurel Turf Cup and won a May 2016 claiming race at Laurel.


Fourth last out in the Benny The Bull Stakes Aug. 25 at Gulfstream, Sweetontheladies will face a familiar foe in likely De Francis favorite X Y Jet, a multiple graded-stakes winner unraced since his victory in the Smile Sprint. He also beat Sweetontheladies in the Sunshine Millions Sprint and 2017 Mr. Prospector (G3), a race where Sweetontheladies lost all chance after stumbling at the start.


“We’ve run against him three times now and the last two times we finished third,” Collazo said. “I wouldn’t mind finishing ahead of him once.”


Collazo said Sweetontheladies will have a final breeze for the De Francis Saturday at Gulfstream. In his most recent work he went four furlongs in 47.03 seconds Sept. 8, fastest of 53 horses.


“He really doesn’t need much. He’s pretty simple and straight-forward horse. Just keeping him happy is my main concern,” he said. “We’ll give him a day to settle in, jog him a couple of days and then run him.”


Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens is tentatively scheduled to ride Sweetontheladies in the De Francis, Collazo said.


“You can’t ask for much more than a Hall of Famer,” he said. “You can never go wrong with them.”

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