Wondrwherecraigsis top De Francis Dash nominations

Graded-stakes winners Wondrwherecraigis, Special Reserve and Pickin’ Time, fellow multiple stakes winners Ny Traffic, Beren and Royal Urn, and multiple graded-stakes placed War Tocsin are among 28 horses nominated to the $150,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park.

The six-furlong Dash for 3-year-olds and up tops four stakes worth $450,000 in purses on a Saturday, July 16 program that drew a total of 103 nominations. All four stakes are part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series.

Joining the De Francis are the $100,000 Alma North for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting 6 ½ furlongs and a pair of $100,000 stakes scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the grass – the Prince George’s County for 3-year-olds and up and Big Dreyfus for fillies and mares 3 and older.

 Named for the late president and chairman of both Laurel and historic Pimlico Race Course, the Dash made its debut in 1990. Its illustrious roster of winners includes Hall of Famer Housebuster along with fellow sprint champions Cherokee Run, Smoke Glacken, Thor’s Echo and Benny the Bull.

Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables’ Wondrwherecraigis finished first in last year’s Dash but was disqualified for interference in deep stretch and placed second. He went on to capture the Bold Ruler (G3) last fall at Belmont Park in his subsequent start and won the six-furlong Fire Plug Jan. 29 at Laurel in his 5-year-old debut. In his only other start this year, Wondrwherecraigis ran 10th in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen March 29.

Trainer Brittany Russell also nominated his stablemate, Madaket Stables, Ten Strike Racing, Michael Kisber and BTR Racing’s Whereshetoldmetogo. The multiple stakes-winning 7-year-old owns 16 career wins including three in a row, the latest coming in the July 2 Alapocas Run at Delaware Park.

Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher’s Special Reserve has not raced since finishing fourth by 2 ¼ lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) last November. The Mike Maker trainee won three stakes last year – the Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland, Iowa Sprint at Prairie Meadows and Maryland Sprint (G3) at Pimlico.

Roseland Farm Stable’s Pickin’ Time won the 2020 Nashua (G3) as a 2-year-old at Aqueduct and had a pair of stakes wins at 3, including the seven-furlong City of Laurel last November. He has made one start in 2022, running third in the six-furlong John J. Reilly Handicap May 15 at Monmouth Park behind his Kelly Breen-trained stablemate and De Francis nominee, John Bowers Jr.’s homebred Royal Urn.

John Fanelli, Cash is King Racing, Paul Braverman and Team Hanley’s Ny Traffic is coming off back-to-back stakes victories in the Affirmed Success at Belmont and June 17 Chocolate Town at Penn National. He was on the delayed Triple Crown trail in 2020, placing in four straight graded-stakes including a runner-up finish in the Haskell (G1) before off-the-board finishes in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1).

Susan Quick and Christopher Feifarek’s homebred Beren is a five-time stakes winner that has run second in his last three attempts, the most recent coming by a length to favored Ny Traffic in the Chocolate Town. Also exiting that race are stakes winner Threes Over Deuces and Sir Alfred James, third in the Feb. 19 General George (G3) at Laurel, both De Francis nominees.

Uriah St. Lewis owned-and-trained War Tocsin was third to Jaxon Traveler at odds of 17-1 in the May 21 Maryland Sprint and second behind Cordmaker at 48-1 in the General George. Fourth in last year’s De Francis after a belated start, he was third last out to champion Jackie’s Warrior in the 6 ½-furlong True North (G2) June 10 at Belmont.

Among other stakes winners nominated to the De Francis are Alwaysinahurry, Eastern Bay, Isolate, Karan’s Notion, Shackqueenking, Tappin Cat, Top Gunner and Valued Notion.