Saturday, October 20, 2012


LAUREL, MD. 10-19-12---Twenty-eight sprinters have been nominated to the 21st running of the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park next Saturday, Oct. 27.

The Fall Festival of Racing card also features five $150,000 stakes races on the turf. The Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds has 37 nominees. The Selima Stakes for 2-year-old fillies attracted 38 pre-entries. The Laurel Dash drew 46 nominations. The Lady Baltimore Stakes for fillies and mares has 50 nominations. The 1-1/2 mile Laurel Turf Cup features 39 nominations.

Introduced in 1990, the De Francis Dash is one of the elite six-furlong sprints in the country with four of the 20 winners-Housebuster (1991), Cherokee Run (1994), Smoke Glacken (1997) and Thor’s Echo (2006)-earning Eclipse Award honors for champion sprinter.

Among those pre-entered are graded winners Poseidon’s Warrior, Justin Phillip and Sean Avery although those runners are expected to compete in the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 3.

Of the 28, ten of the runners are cross-nominated to the Laurel Dash, a 6-furlong test on the grass: Action Andy, Alsvid, Ben’s Cat, Broad Rule, Delaunay, Immortal Eyes, Jazzy Idea, Lion Hall, My Cuz C J and Sunrise Smarty.

Action Andy, who won the Maryland Million Sprint here on Oct. 6, and multiple stakes winner Alsvid are likely starters in the De Francis Dash.

Maryland Jockey Club stakes coordinator Coley Blind says Il Villano, Pacific Ocean, Royal Currier, Sloane Ranger and The Hunk are “serious candidates” and being pointed to Laurel’s most important race. The connections of Bet The Power, Crossbow, Divine Music, Guam Typhoon and Zero Rate Policy are also considering the race.

Ben’s Cat, the defending champion in the Laurel Dash, is one of the top turf sprinters in the country but is also formidable on the main track. The King Leatherbury homebred is 7-of-11 on the dirt, including a pair of stakes scores.

“I fully expect King to run on the grass,” Blind said. “Overall, I am pleased with the number of nominations. Now we have to see who will actually enter on Wednesday. We could have full fields in the baby races (Laurel Futurity and Selima) and I am hopeful that we will get 10 to 12 in the other three turf races.”

Post time for the 11-race card will be 12:35 p.m. The first 4,000 fans receive a complimentary Laurel Park sports cap.

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