In Focus: Wagering De Francis Dash Day stakes
Wise Gal. Photo by The Racing Biz.
Our In Focus Guide offers the most in-depth analysis and commentary on the seven stakes on Saturday’s De Francis Dash day stakes at Laurel Park.
RACE 3 – SELIMA STAKES
RACE PARTICULARS: Post time 2:10 p.m., $100,000 purse, 6 furlongs (turf), Two-year-old fillies.
THE FIELD IN FULL
- Light Up the Town (7-2) – Hard to come up with a more productive barn than this one with two-year-olds, and this miss didn’t disappoint on debut, setting a fast pace and going on to win fairly easily at MTH. Shows two sharp works since
- Artattack (20-1) – Had to drop into claiming ranks to graduate, which she did three back. Tries grass for the first time, and breeding says she’ll like it – by top turfer Artie Schiller and out of a dam who won twice on the green…
- Proportionality (8-1) – Another of the battalion of promising Sagamore 2yos, she won nicely on debut, and though trainer Horacio DePaz described her as likely to be “a nice little Maryland-bred filly around here,” connections went fishing in the deep Spa waters in the G2 Adirondack, which didn’t go so well. Finds easier group here for first try on turf…
- Mel’s Gone Wild (3-1) – First turf for this daughter of Wildcat Heir whose sibs are 0-for-4 on turf. De Masi trainee impressed on debut and earned a gaudy 78 Beyer fig, but follow-up was a disastrous eighth-place finish in the G3 Schuylerville. She’s showing two bullet works since her last…
- Dad’s City Girl (15-1) – Another making her turf bow, she’ll need the race of her young life in here…
- Eighty Six Mets (20-1) – Won a long sprint at DEL last out, getting away with a slow pace before kicking on home; none of seven to run back has won. Not likely to make the lead in this field, and if not, then what?
- Madame X. (6-1) – Not sure what this Susan Cooney trainee beat first out, but she sure did it like a good horse, winning off by nine. Her follow-up at SAR left much to be desired though; she was away awkwardly and ran greenly and perhaps a bit uncomfortably up the backstretch, never getting involved. Shows a sharp work in the interim.
- Wise Gal (5-2) – Einstein filly rallied to win debut, and race shape here makes a repeat a distinct possibility, as she’ll sit off several early types. Jockey Hamilton had a big opening weekend here, taking 4-of-10.
- Rose to Fame (10-1) – New connections picked this one up after her Brave Raj victory in July; one of three from that to run back won, that one in a $100k stake. First turf for a daughter of Gemologist who’s a half to graded-placed runner Dazzling Gem but whose sibs are winless in three turf tries…
- #8 Wise Gal — Einstein filly should sit winning trip off speed types in here
- #1 Light Up the Town — Ward barn sharp with juvenile turf runners; runner proved best after setting sharp pace
- #2 Artattack — Maybe we’re fishing here, but Artie Schiller filly is bred for the lawn, makes her first try on it
- #7 Madame X. — Was green, seemed uncomfortable in latest; devastated local maidens on debut
Spring to the Sky. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
Race 5 — LAUREL DASH
RACE PARTICULARS: Post time 3:10 p.m., $100,000 purse, 6 furlongs (turf), Three-year-olds and up.
FIELD IN FULL
- Class and Cash (9-2) – Fitness won’t be a problem for this guy on the distance cutback, but making the lead – which has been his usual m.o. – probably will be. He’s a win machine who generally has kept easier company than this; trainer Cibelli is 10-for-73 going route to sprint on the turf. Tough call here.
- Amelia’s Wild Ride (15-1) – The second Cibelli runner here returned from a year off with his running shoes on, running a good third in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint on Preakness eve – but his three since are terrible and include a loss to Snowday (#8 here). Not sure he’ll get the pace he wants to run at, and not sure if there are signs a turnaround is in the offing.
- Triple Burner (10-1) – Laurel-based Linda Albert trainee’s been away since a ninth-place finish, albeit just four lengths from the winner, in the McKay Turf Sprint at PIM. He closed to be second in this spot – at 40-1 – a year ago and owns five wins over the strip, but his best figs look to be a cut below what he needs here…
- Rapid Dan (10-1) – Infrequent winner snapped a lengthy losing streak two back when taking an open allowance here over yielding ground, but he’s just 1-for-12 on the grass. Hard to endorse on top.
- Spring to the Sky (8-1) – This Bruce Brown trainee won the ’15 edition of this event, and though he’s inconsistent, rates consideration on best. Two back he ran a big one after throwing his head at the start and finding himself a mile behind the pace, rallying to just miss. Though he’s done his best work in front, that showed a new tenacity.
- Dream Mover (6-1) – Jimmy Jerkens trainee made his North American debut a winner despite losing his footing and finding himself in the rear of the field early, rallying to wear down his foes. Shows three sharp works since then and in his second start of ’17 owns the right to move forward here…
- Full Salute (20-1) – Interesting claim here, as owner Morris Bailey, who owned this gelding from the start of his career until losing him via the claimbox three back, grabs him back out of his last but with a different trainer – now Lacey Gaudet. This one’s figs look to be a cut below his better rivals here, but he does own a stake win sprinting on the grass and arrives here with a sharp work since the claim; Gaudet is 9-for-33 first off the claim.
- Snowday (7-2) – Though just a five-time winner in 33 career starts, this Willard Thompson trainee enters here with three wins in six tries, including the two-back My Frenchman at MTH – but even more impressive is his last out third, beaten less than a length, against a salty crew in the G3 Turf Monster at PRX. His tactical speed’s an asset, and outer post will give him a shot to pick his spot.
- Joseph (15-1) – This Rodney Jenkins trainee looks to have a heavy lift in here, though note that two of his beaten rivals from last won their follow-ups.
- Blu Moon Ace (3-1) – There’s a lot more money on the line in the De Francis later on the card, in which he’s also entered, but this might be a more manageable group. Won the Coalition Stakes last out in front-running fashion and note four back fourth in the Md-bred Mister Diz at this trip; nothing wrong with that effort when stuck in traffic at key moments in the lane, and with improved speed shown in last, he might be in a better spot when the running starts – if he stays in.
- #8 Snowday — Big effort last out against salty G3 crew; in form now
- #5 Spring to the Sky – Competes here on best, showed improved tenacity with two-back rally
- #6 Dream Mover – Can improve in second North American start
- #10 Blu Moon Ace – If he stays here, improved speed shown in last an asset; last turf try solid, though hampered by traffic
Photo by Laurie Asseo.
Race 6 — ALL ALONG STAKES
RACE PARTICULARS: 3:40pm EDT, $150,000 purse for fillies & mares 3-year-olds and upward, 1 1/16 mile (Turf)
THE FIELD IN FULL
- Paige (12-1) — Fits at this non-graded stakes level as last win came versus similar on New Year’s Eve at GP; struggled in a quartet of G3s but those were at distances further than this event; cut back could be winning formula in Lrl debut for C. Clement trainee
- Northern Smile (20-1) — Failed as Post Time favorite in restricted stakes here last month; 6-year-old is off form since being runner-up in Dahlia Stakes here in Apr. which was her first start of ‘17…
- Light Up Our World (7-2) — Hails from A. Delacour barn whose 26% in non-graded stakes; filly is winless in three starts in the U.S. while being the bridesmaid twice including when Post Time favorite in latest effort, the G3 Violet at Mth in what was a less than ideal trip
- Pricedtoperfection (8-1) — Adds blinkers in an effort to make amends for 6th-place finish in latest behind #3 and #6; w/ F. Lynch getting a leg up from G. Motion, this duo who have won at a 31% clip the past year can get this Temple City filly to Winners Circle if taken further off the pace early…
- On Leave (2-1) — No shame in finishing 3¼-lengths (5th) behind Lady Eli in G2 Bailston Spa at Sar; only other off-the-board finish came in G1 QEII at Kee last Oct. when 4th; makes 12th career start, 1st w/o JL Ortiz in the irons; “Shug” turns to local 1st call rider F. Boyce to get the job done
- Gianna’s Dream (6-1) — Likely pace-setter along w/ #7 Juno in here got a smart, stalking ride from V. Carrasco two back in speed-heavy OC$25kN2x in local debut but will need to run personal best to make it 2 for 2 on Lrl lawn…
- Juno (4-1) — Veteran of six straight graded stakes races on the West Coast should find these gals a tad easier to try to take gate-to-wire as trainer N. Drysdale seeks to get this BRZ-bred her first win in U.S. in 8th such start after going 5 for 5 in her homeland
- True Egyptian (20-1) — All it took was a change of scenery and surface to see her blossom; faces toughest task to date but gets hot local jock in the irons…
- Indian Paint (30-1) — Still eligible for N2x with worst outing of 8-race career being her lone turf try; might be a “rabbit” for trainer K. Rubley other entry (#2)…
- Martini Glass (15-1) — 3 wins followed by 3 runner-up efforts in last 6 races, most notably a one-length loss to Songbird in G1 Del Hcp on the dirt; just 4:1-0-1 on grass
- #3 Light Up Our World – Trip troubles in last when second in G3; Delacour barn solid in ungraded stakes
- #5 On Leave – Has kept right company; always fires
- #7 Juno – Likely winging it in front while dropping from graded company
- #1 Paige – Fits here, should appreciate class relief, distance cutback
Exaggerated. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
Race 7 — SENSIBLE LADY STAKES
RACE PARTICULARS: Post time 4:10 p.m., $100,000 purse, 6 furlongs (turf), Fillies and mares three-years old and up.
THE FIELD IN FULL
- Dare to Be (30-1) – She’s been gradually improving but she’ll need to take a big step forward here to compete for the money.
- Miss Ella (5-2) – Closing sort will need a pace to run at – and a change of fortune to overcome last out winner Ginger N Rye (#5 in here). Followed the winner through a seam at the hedge in last, and clearly she enjoyed her trip to the Spa, winning a stake and finishing second in another. She figures a major player with a clean trip.
- Cali Thirty Seven (20-1) – John Servis runner has posted some good efforts on turf, but last couple aren’t great. She’s been training forwardly since her last and will need to find form of late last year to this spring to contend here.
- Euroboss (15-1) – This Mike Stidham trainee’s been away since May when no threat in The Very One at PIM. She’s been working well enough towards this and will need a top effort here.
- Ginger N Rye (9-5) – Solid Sagamore runner won twice at the Spa, the two best races of her career, last out enjoying a dream inside trip to earn the win in the Smart N Fancy. She’s a little more tactical than #2 Miss Ella, giving her an edge on that rival and rates a solid chance to score a hat trick here.
- Everything Lovely (15-1) – The Caress didn’t go so well – she backed up readily and finished behind three of today’s rivals in the process – but there’s some back class here, so it’s worth at least a second glance. She’s done her best work in front but has run credible races from a stalking spot, too; though winless at Laurel, she’s never been worse than third in three tries and shows a bullet work in preparation.
- Fire Key (6-1) – NY-bred daughter of Maryland sire Friesan Fire enters having won three of four, though two against NY-breds and the third in an open N1X at SAR. She’ll need to move forward here and will look for a stalking type trip.
- Paquita Coqueta (20-1) – The likely speed of the speed in here gets blinks on after clearing and stopping in her last two – but note the wicked early fractions in both. The pace may not be quite so contentious in this event, which might give her a shot to carry her speed farther – but it’s hard to see the added ground as a positive.
- Sycee (30-1) – Blew up the toteboard last out when posting a front-running score at 36-1 but really hasn’t seemed to be quite this level. Put it this way: if she wins here, she’ll blow up the toteboard again, and it might be even more than last time.
- Exaggerated (12-1) – Intriguing price play has raced just once this year – in April – and has been thrashed in her last two. But… she is a stakes winner sprinting on the lawn and has kept the right sort of company: finishing third by a couple to the terrific Lady Shipman and though well beaten last out, the top three all won their follow-ups, including Lady Aurelia, who won a G1 in England. Delacour knows how to get a horse ready to win off the bench, and you have to believe they think she’ll fire if they show up – and if she fires, she’s offering great value.
- Catching Fireflies (10-1) – First try off the claim by trainer Kieron Magee, and maybe the win last out will help this one get back to her better form – but none of six to run back from that one has won. Best finish in five career stakes tries was a third in a minor event at GP in 2015.
- (ae) Rocky Policy (10-1) – She ran huge two back at 20-1 at SAR, but the defeat left her winless in eight tries on the lawn.
- (ae) Carolina Shag (15-1) – Susan Cooney trainee ran a big one two back in the Caress before tiring late but had no answers last out in the Smart N Fancy.
- (ae) Always Thinking (20-1) – Unlikely to draw in, but she projects to be well behind the leaders in the early going and hasn’t shown much rally in recent tries. Trainer Albertrani, having a bit of a rough year, is 2-for-32 going route to sprint on the turf.
- (ae) Sweet On Smokey (20-1) – Best hope for the Claudio Gonzalez trainee is the old rain dance.
- #10 Exaggerated – Expecting improved effort here; impressive company lines
- #5 Ginger N Rye – Dream trip in last to win at SAR; looks for hat trick here
- #8 Paquita Coqueta – Figures to be speed of the speed; can she stay on?
- #6 Everything Lovely – Back class says she fits in here
Renown. Photo by The Racing Biz.
Race 8 — LAUREL TURF CUP
RACE PARTICULARS: 3:40pm EDT, $150,000 purse for fillies & mares 3-year-olds and upward, 1 1/16 mile (Turf)
THE FIELD IN FULL
- St. Albans Boy (20-1) — Won this event two years ago which was the last time this 7-year-old visited the Winners’ Circle; first race of ’17 was just last month, certainly intended as a prep for this one, but was outrun…
- Ghost Bay (20-1) — Seems to have been wanting more than the 8-9 furlongs as bloodlines suggest since leaning towards turf races at age 5; gets 12 furlongs here with top local turf rider aboard and can continue to improve on BRIS#s for fifth consecutive race; will need pace help
- Canessar (4-1) — Makes U.S. debut for local conditioner who specializes in turf runners but is 0 for 6 with shippers to U.S.; FR-bred brings gaudy record (10: 5-1-1) from his homeland but two worst outings came in “Group” races; used to travelling further than 1½ miles; adds Lasix…
- Motivational (15-1) — Ran a career high 101 BRIS# when 4th in this event last year but has regressed since; finally conquered N2x condition in latest when 17-1; will need to duplicate that ’16 effort in third race after layoff to be a threat at a price
- Talk Show Man (12-1) — ’14 MD Million Turf winner returned this Spring from an 18-month layoff, took a few races to regain old form but looks to be overmatched at this distance…
- Infinite Wisdom (3-1) — Can boast the best career turf BRIS# (106) of this bunch which he earned in gate-to-wire score going an eighth longer than today’s contest; should have it all his own way on the front end as foes lack the need for the lead unless the French export (#3) has that style which is unknown via PPs
- Holiday Star (6-1) — Seems this race was the target when making first start in 21-months last month at Sar v. weaker yet ran a dull 4th; hard to imagine that outing setup this gelding for a top effort today; 3 of 6 lifetime wins have come in just 6 starts at this distance…
- #8 – Manitoulin (5-2) — Continues to get better with every start this year even though he could only muster the PLACE purse when Post Time favorite at Sar in latest start; had all kind of trouble in G3 Arlington Hcp two back; will continue to relish more distance based on pedigree; trainer J. Toner 23% in non-graded stakes
- Highly Prized (20-1) — Nice turf runner but BRIS#s just don’t stack up against this field; used to racing no further than 1 1/16 mile…
- Pizmo Time (30-1) — Tall order for MD-bred still eligible for N1x; first start since June when beaten favorite at Prx…
- Renown(10-1) — Won this event last year and has more wins at this distance (5) than his 10 foes combined (4); hasn’t been the same since 14-length, last-place loss in 2 mile G3 Bel Gold Cup three back
- #2 Ghost Bay – Added ground a plus; needs solid pace to run at
- #6 Infinite Wisdom – Lone speed has chance to wire ’em
- #8 Manitoulin – Should relish added ground; note trouble line in two back G3 effort
- #4 Motivational – Hoping last out win presages return to better form; third off layoff
Blu Moon Ace. Photo by The Racing Biz.
Race 9 — FRANK J. DE FRANCIS MEMORIAL DASH
RACE PARTICULARS: 5:10 p.m., $250,000 purse, 6 furlongs, Three-year-olds and up.
THE FIELD IN FULL
- Struth (12-1) – Late nominee is in career-best form now after runner-up try in the Coalition, though winning rival from that day is here in the form of Blu Moon Ace (#5). Magee trainee owns six wins at the trip and gets JD Acosta, an aggressive rider from the gate, in the irons, so figures to be involved early. Still a tough spot for him.
- Jordan (12-1) – This G3 winner hasn’t run this short since his debut – on September 14, 2014, a span of over three years. His recent form isn’t perhaps as good as last year’s, but it isn’t bad, and making his third start off a break, the Eddie Plesa trainee could move forward here.
- Awesome Banner (7-2) – This Ken Decker trainee sure has been keeping tough company – Whitmore (#4 here) three back, Imperial Hint (riding a five-race win streak) two back, and El Deal (three straight wins, three Beyers of at least 102) last out. Like to see his tenacity last out, as he dropped almost to last but kept on grinding to make his way through the field to second. Never worse than third in seven tries at the trip and gets Tyler Gaffalione in the irons.
- Whitmore (7-5) – This Ron Moquett trainee is a multiple G3 winner at the distance and has won six of seven at the trip. He has tactical speed and a strong closing kick. He’s been away since a third-place finish in the G2 True North, though Moquett said it was the result of a minor mishap and nothing of concern, and he shows a solid work tab readying for this. He’s the one to beat here.
- Blu Moon Ace (9-2) – Ran huge to win the Coalition at TIM last out, fending off early pressure and drawing off; cross-entered in the Laurel Dash, so it’ll be interesting to see which spot trainer Kevin Patterson picks. Also of interest: rider Gerald Almodovar comes in from his CT base for the mount. He never seemed to be this type of horse before; is he now?
- Chublicious (8-1) – Six-year-old NJ-bred from switches racing bad boy Jorge Navarro to barn of Claudio Gonzalez as he did last year, but a year ago he arrived having laid waste to his Jersey Shore rivals at MTH, having won three times at the track with a pair of triple-digit Beyers; this year he arrives with one win from three starts and a top fig of 92. He does have eight wins in 16 tries at the distance and looks like he’ll need a big step forward here.
- Favorite Tale (5-1) – Show horse in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint returned with an absolutely useful try last out after an 18-month vacation, running a game second to The Man, who’s won seven straight – and they were well clear of the others. Making his second start off the break, he certainly has the right to move forward, and don’t mind seeing Paco Lopez in to ride at all. With his early zip, he figures to be right up in the first flight from the word go.
- #7 Favorite Tale – Class edge if he can get back to ’15 form; return to races was useful
- #4 Whitmore – Multiple G3 winner has been worse than first only once in seven tries at the trip
- #3 Awesome Banner – Keeping right company, tries hard
- #2 Mr. Jordan – Fits on class — will distance do him in?
Nauti Buoy. Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.
Race 10 — LAUREL FUTURITY
RACE PARTICULARS: 5:40pm EDT, $100,000 purse for 2-year-olds, 6 furlongs (Turf)
THE FIELD IN FULL
- Nauti Boy (15-1) — Was quite nice in winning debut at 29-1 on the Lrl turf; connections set sights a bit too high shipping to Saratoga to run in G3 Sanford (8th/last) on dirt then back on turf in the G3 With Anticipation (9th of 11); this field will seem like a bunch of claimers by comparison
- Trusting Friend (6-1) — Makes North American debut after taking three tries to break maiden on the grass in Great Britain; shipped to KY and put in a couple maintenance works on the CD main track; trainer B. Walsh (20% in ’17) has had just 1 winner from 12 previous starters in their U.S. debut; adds Lasix…
- Cheese On (15-1) — MD-bred gelded son of Scipion won first two career outings at 5 furlongs before getting a reality check in the $50k Strike Your Colors at Del when a late arriving 4th behind top 2-year-old Kowboy Karma; should benefit from continued stretch out but handling turf is the biggest question mark…
- Majestic Dunhill (3-1) — Three career efforts, all on turf in NY, finally earning his diploma in latest; sire won 5 of 6 career starts races sprinting on dirt; T. Gaffalione takes mount over TAP runner (#11)…
- Therapist (10-1) — Home/NY-bred easily beat state-breds in debut over Bel turf with a strong late move in the stretch w/o feeling the whip; that was 2 months ago and yet never raced on his home track (Sar); trainer C. Clement 19-20% w/ shippers, turf starters and those having similar layoff; plenty of foes w/ speed to mow down in deep stretch
- Stroll Smokin (15-1) — Was entered here on Friday in OC$50Kn1x dirt sprint; gave talented Kowboy Karma all he could handle when 3rd in minor stake; sire won multiple graded stakes on turf, but going long; adds blinkers…
- Battle Station (7-2) — Shocker, trainer W. Ward has a potential turf star owned by the Ramseys but not a Kitten’s Joy; NY-bred graduated on Sar lawn in debut going gate-to-wire…
- Blue Ridge Scout (20-1) — After getting trounced in debut on dirt which turned out to be a key race, local runner came back to win over muddy track as contest was taken off the turf that saw SHOW runner win next start in turf debut; this gelded son of New Year’s Day should give a good account of himself in 1st shot on turf
- Go Willy Go (20-1) — Speedster took advantage of 4f MSW at Tim to break maiden in third start as runner-up was a convincing next out winner…
- Shane’s Jewel (10-1) — Took a huge step forward speed figure-wise when getting Lasix in third start to earn first win; bred to like turf
- Dial One (9-2) — Appeared green this Spring in debut win on turf while jumping the Starting Gate tracks at GP for T. Pletcher followed by a pair of SHOW efforts in minor stakes on fast then muddy tracks; extremely wide in latest that was originally scheduled for the turf; one knock would be he’s only faced 4-5 foes in each start
- #5 Therapist – Impressive debut against NY-breds; plenty of pace to set up his late run
- #8 Blue Ridge Scout – New Year’s Day gelding should give good account in first turf try
- #1 Nauti Buoy – Class relief should help
- #11 Dial One – Solid resume includes turf win, plus pair of stakes placings