Wondrwherecraigis could return in De Francis Dash

Given time to recover from his late March trip to Dubai, Grade 3 winner Wondrwherecraigis may launch his comeback next month in the $150,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park.

Trainer Brittany Russell said Thursday that she and owners Madaket Stables, The Elkstone Group and Michael Dubb will sit down and discuss options, but felt the six-furlong Dash for 3-year-olds and up July 16 makes sense.

“He’s doing great. He had a nice work on Sunday and he made me feel good,” Russell said. “He showed kind of the old ‘Craig’ on Sunday, so I was pretty excited after he worked. I think we’ll just keep him ticking along each week and if all goes well … I would think locally we would consider the Dash.”

Wondrwherecraigis, a 5-year-old Munnings gelding, breezed a half-mile in 48.80 seconds June 5 at Laurel, ranking 12th of 39 horses. He returned to the work tab for the first time since his overseas trip with a three-furlong move in 38.40 seconds May 25. Winner of the Jan. 29 Fire Plug at Laurel to open his campaign,

Wondrwherecraigis wound up 10th of 13 horses in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) March 26 at Meydan, won by Switzerland, an 8-year-old gelding who won the 2018 De Francis, as well as that year’s Grade 3 Maryland Sprint at Pimlico, and has been based in the Middle East since 2019.

It was just the third time off the board in 12 career starts for Wondrwherecraigis, who owns seven wins – three in stakes – and $407,640 in purse earnings. The connections have been patient in bringing him back, giving him down time the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, MD before resuming his training.

“I know that everybody has their perspective on how to handle the horses coming back from Dubai. I think it does take a lot out of them. It’s a lot of traveling. Even when we were over there, as well as we thought he was doing, I don’t think you really know until you run them,” Russell said. “I think you also see that people who ship early and their horse spends more time there, they seem to compete better.

“Coming back, for him to spend time at Fair Hill and just be able to catch his breath I think it was extremely beneficial. He came right back in the barn and acted like he was really ready to get back to work, because that’s just the nature of him. He’s an athlete; he wants to work,” she added.

Wondrwherecraigis crossed the wire first in last year’s De Francis, three-quarters of a length ahead of Jalen Journey, but was ruled to have interfered with the runner-up near the sixteenth pole and disqualified and placed second. Wondrwherecraigis became a graded winner in his subsequent start, the Bold Ruler (G3) at Belmont Park.

“It would be huge. We always talk about it. He’s very special to us. He’s our big guy, and to have a shot to win a big race like that in Maryland would be really exciting,” Russell said. “I just pray that he stays healthy and keeps doing well.”

  • Wondrwherecraigis won the Fire Plug Stakes. Photo Jerry Dzierwinski.
  • Wondrwherecraigis won the Bold Ruler. Photo Chelsea Durand/NYRA.
  • Jalen Journey (left) was put up via disqualification in the De Francis Dash. Photo Jerry Dzierwinski.
  • Wondrwherecraigis dominated a Pimlico allowance. Photo Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.