USA Highlight

The Race of the week is going to be at Laurel Park for the 2019 grade 3 Xpressbet Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash. Laurel Park is running a 12 race card that is filled with very good races on it. The Memorial Dash is race 8 on the card of 12, and features 8 horses going to the gate.

Race Facts:

Fastest Time: 1:07:80 Richter Scale (2000)

Most Wins by a Jockey: Jerry Bailey (3)

Most Wins by a trainer: D. Wayne Lukas (2)

The 2018 Xpressbet Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash was captured by Switzerland. This was Switzerland’s last victory. He is trained by Steve Asmussen and in this race was ridden by Laurel Park jockey Feargal Lynch.

BALTIMORE, MD – MAY 19: Switzerland, #5, ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr., wins the Maryland Sprint on Preakness Day at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland (Photo by Sue Kawczynski/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)

The pair of Asmussen and Lynch look to team up again with the morning line favorite New York Central. New York Central won a grade 3 at Pimlico Race Track in May, but last time out was overmatched in a grade 2 at Belmont Park. There is plenty of depth in this field though, as He Hate Me is 3-1. The four inside horses are all at 8-1 or better which makes this race a great betting race.

The Lead:
Laurel Park dubs it a ‘September to Remember’ card this Saturday as a 12-race lineup features no less than 8 stakes races. The G3 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup and the G3 Xpressbet De Francis Dash go as Races 7 and 8 and share the marquee. The De Francis has been Maryland’s top sprint race 1990 and this year lured a field of 8.

Field Depth:
G3 Maryland Sprint Handicap winner NEW YORK CENTRAL has the field’s signature victory, while KILLYBEGS CAPTAIN is G1-placed. The rest are out to prove themselves at this class level. A sharp horse in form certainly could be a win candidate in this scenario on the class rise.

Anywhere from 3 to 6 of these runners could be disputing the front end over 6 furlongs. SPARTICLE is a need-the-lead type and certainly committed to speed, along with ALTISSIMO, who has led in his last 4 starts. OLD TIME REVIVAL will push the mix, potentially along with inside-drawn WONDERFUL LIGHT and KILLYBEGS CAPTAIN. While HE HATE ME has been pace versatile, the definitive closers here figure to be NEW YORK CENTRAL and BON RAISON … and with plenty of targets.

Our Eyes:
NEW YORK CENTRAL captured the G3 Maryland Sprint on the Preakness undercard, following the footsteps of Steve Asmussen stable predecessor Switzerland. Notably that runner also went on to win last fall’s DeFrancis Dash, so NEW YORK CENTRAL attempts to double-down on the same path. NEW YORK CENTRAL has not raced at Laurel Park, but sire Tapit gets a respectable 17% winners on the local dirt since 2013. Laurel-based jockey Feargal Lynch, who guided Switzerland a year ago, replaces regular pilot Ricardo Santana, Jr. aboard NEW YORK CENTRAL. Santana opts to ride at Churchill Downs instead, where he has 7 mounts, but none in the local stakes feature. The last effort by NEW YORK CENTRAL in the G2 Nerud was simply terrible in July, so it’s been since May that he’s fired. His best can win this, but there’s no assurance he’s trending that direction.

KILLYBEGS CAPTAIN drops in class after a solid third-place run in the G1 Forego to leading national sprinter Mitole. He’s had 6 minor placings in a row, all in the superfecta, since winning twice at Tampa Bay Downs in late winter. Sire Mizzen Mast hits just under 8% with his offspring at Laurel, a poor showing, with more than 100 starters since 2013. This one tends to lose some ground in the stretch and the pace scenario may not suit his running style. Consider him for the underneath spots.

HE HATE ME and BON RAISON split 1-2 decisions at Saratoga this summer. HE HATE ME scored over BON RAISON in allowance company before that rival turned the tables in the restricted Tale of the Cat Stakes. But while HE HATE ME has been rested since that August 9 re-match, notably BON RAISON has raced twice in Saratoga’s G1 Forego (5th) and Parx’s listed Bensalem Stakes (2nd). But if you’re worried about the workload for BON RAISON, consider he’s run 15 times in 2019 and has been tremendously consistent at the allowance and listed stakes level. You can expect a bigger price on BON RAISON than HE HATE ME, who will be ridden by red-hot Belmont Park jockey Manuel Franco, who makes the road trip to Laurel. Admittedly, HE HATE ME and BON RAISON are difficult to separate, so let the higher price be your lure.

ALTISSIMO has been the king of Ohio-bred sprinters and has proven worthy in the Mid-Atlantic ranks as well. A winner in 16 of 37 starts, he scored in open stakes company at Delaware Park and was runner-up here last December in the Dave’s Friend Stakes at Laurel. ALTISSIMO fits on numbers if you’re into that sort of thing, and likely will be disrespected some by the national simulcast audience. The pace scenario will test him mightily, but if the price is right, you could do worse.

July 13, 2019 : Altissimo #2, ridden by Christian Pilares, wins the Hockessin Stakes on Delaware Handicap Day at Delaware Park in Stanton, Delaware. Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

Most Certain Exotics Contender: No one stands out here and several have their potential pitfalls. A reluctant nod goes to HE HATE ME, who can adjust to various pace scenarios.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender: BON RAISON rarely gets bet and should have a fast pace in which to close into late.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $60 win WONDERFUL LIGHT. $10 exacta key-box WONDERFUL LIGHT with closers NEW YORK CENTRAL and BON RAISON ($40).

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