25th DeFrancis day draws nearly 200 nominations
Gentlemen’s Bet (outside) was placed first after Trouble Kid was DQed in the 2015 DeFrancis. Photo by The Racing Biz.
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Led by the 25th running of the $250,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3), a total of 195 horses were nominated to seven stakes worth $825,000 in purses for the Fall Festival of Racing Saturday, Nov. 19 at Laurel Park.
Reinstated as a graded stakes race for the first time since holding Grade 1 status from 1999 to 2009, the six-furlong De Francis attracted 35 nominees led by multiple stakes winners Alsvid, Always Sunshine, Ready for Rye, Stallwalkin’ Dude and X Y Jet.
Alsvid, winner of the Aristides (G3) June 4 at Keeneland, finished fourth last time out behind multiple Grade I winner A.P. Indian in the Phoenix (G2). Ready for Rye, winless in 2016, took the 2015 Swale (G2) at Gulfstream Park. Always Sunshine captured the Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) May 21 in front of Rockinn On Bye, also nominated to the De Francis.
A winner of 16 of 46 career races, Stallwalkin’ Dude became a millionaire with his victory in the Bold Ruler (G3) Oct. 29 at Belmont Park. X Y Jet strung together five consecutive wins from September 2015 to February 2016, three of them in stakes including the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) and Mr. Prospector (G3). He was fifth in the Vosburgh (G1) Oct. 1, his only start since being beaten a neck in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) March 26.
Also among the De Francis nominees are multiple stakes winners Awesome Speed, who is three-for-three at Laurel including a win via disqualification in the Federico Tesio April 9; Chublicious; Ivan Fallunovalot, riding a three-race win streak; Morning Fire; Sonny Inspired, in the money in 16 of 20 career starts at Laurel; Weekend Hideaway; and Nicaradalic Rocks, whose back-to-back wins include the Maryland Million Sprint Oct. 22.
First held in 1990 to honor the late president and chairman of both Laurel and historic Pimlico Race Course, the De Francis for 3-year-olds and up was also run as a Grade 3 race in 1992 and 1993 and a Grade 2 from 1994 to 1998.
Past winners of the De Francis include champion sprinters Cherokee Run, Smoke Glacken, Thor’s Echo, Benny the Bull and Housebuster, who was elected to racing’s Hall of Fame in 2013. Lite the Fuse is the only two-time De Francis winner, taking back-to-back editions in 1995-96.
Two-time defending Maryland Million Classic winner Admirals War Chest; Grade 3 winners Ami’s Holiday, Sunny Ridge and Tommy Macho; 2015 Tesio winner Bodhisattva; and 2015 Maryland-bred champion 3-year-old Noteworthy Peach are among 28 nominees to the $100,000 Richard W. Small for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles.
The $100,000 City of Laurel, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds, drew the most nominations with 37 including Awesome Speed, Grade 3 winners Rated R Superstar and Sharp Azteca, and multiple stakes winners Abiding Star, Morning Fire and Never Gone South.
Lost Raven, winner of the Miss Preakness (G3) May 20 at Pimlico; 2016 Bourbonette Oaks (G3) winner Wonderment; stakes winner Lexington Street and graded stakes-placed Malibu Stacy, Outsider Art, and Takrees lead 33 nominations for the $100,000 Safely Kept for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs.
Stakes winners Pachi Cruze and Runnin’toluvya and impressive maiden winners El Areeb, In Arrears and Undulated are among 16 nominees in the $100,000 James F. Lewis III for 2-year-olds at six furlongs, while the $100,000 Smart Halo for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs drew 27 nominations including stakes winners Clairvoyant Lady, Unaquoi and Maryland Million Lassie winner Item.
Nineteen Maryland-bred/sired fillies and mares 3 and older were nominated to the $75,000 Geisha, contested at one mile.