The sprint race named in honor of the late Frank J. De Francis will undergo several changes this summer.
The Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash purse has been lowered from $350,000 to $300,000; the date has been moved from mid-August to July 20; and the race will be run at Laurel Race Course.
The De Francis Dash, as it has become known, was inaugurated at Pimlico Race Course last year as the nation's second-richest sprint, behind only the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint. The -- was run Aug. 18 as part of a television package with the Travers Stakes. This year, it again will be shown on ABC, probably with the $500,000 New England Classic, the seventh race in the American Championship Racing Series.
"We're hopeful we can attract the same quality horses as last year, when we offered $350,000," said Joe De Francis, son of Frank De Francis and president of Laurel/Pimlico. "The race obviously means a lot to myself emotionally, but given the way things are, it wouldn't be fair not to cut it and to take $50,000 out of other stakes on the schedule."
Although the handle at the current meeting is comparable to 1989 figures, it is about 13 percent below those for the spring meet last year, when a huge Double Triple carry-over helped the track set a spring-meet record for handle. Purses have been cut by about 5 percent.
Northern Wolf won the inaugural De Francis Dash, setting a Pimlico record (1 minute, 9 seconds) for six furlongs.