Early speed draws rail and outside Dash strategy simple for Secret Odds

July 24, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Horses with an abundance of early speed drew the rail and the two outside post positions yesterday when the field for tomorrow's fourth running of the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash was drawn at Laurel Race Course.

It means pretty simple strategy for at least one horse, Secret Odds, who breaks from the inside: Go for it, or be left behind in a field loaded with fast horses. There are seven graded stakes winners in the group and two graded stakes-placed.

Should the early speed immolate, there are some proven closers capable of running a dynamic final quarter. They are Senor Speedy, ridden by Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Jerry Bailey; Lion Cavern, undefeated in two U.S. starts and ridden by Belmont-winning jockey Julie Krone; and Now Listen, from the stable of Bobby Frankel, America's leading money-winning trainer.

"The one-hole -- it's the shortest way home," said Larry Murray, trainer of Secret Odds.

His horse can expect immediate pressure for the lead from Montbrook in gate 8 and the filly Meafara, who drew the extreme outside post in the nine-horse field.

"Pressure? Heck, that's what this whole race is all about," Murray said.

Eric Fried, agent for jockey Clarence "Jo Jo" Ladner, who rides Montbrook, said: "I'm glad we're on the outside of Secret Odds. That means we're not going to have to accelerate to make a suicide pace. But then I'm not too happy to be on the inside of Meafara. She breaks good and really scoots."

Added Frank Muench, owner of the gray filly that lost the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint by a neck last fall: "Personally, I think she can open up three lengths on the field, if that's what the jock [Juvenal Diaz] wants to do."

There were more than a few incredulous looks when track oddsmaker Eric Johnston, who made Senor Speedy the favorite, installed Meafara as a 12-1 long shot.

"I'd love to get that price on her," Muench said of his home-bred filly that has won eight of 12 lifetime starts and $534,445.

"My big concern with her is that she's a filly," Johnston said. "It's a tough field. I look for the speed to burn itself up and the race to definitely set up for a closer like Senor Speedy."

Johnston made Montbrook, the locally based 3-year-old, a surprising 3-1 second choice. "He's got a ton of speed and might hold on," Johnston said. "That's the big question. What's this 3-year-old going to do? Is he as good as everyone thinks he is?"

Last year, a 3-year-old gelding, Superstrike, a 13-1 shot, upset a field of more seasoned older horses. So there is a precedent.

But no filly or mare has won the $300,000 sprint.

Meafara, should she run back to her Breeders' Cup form, is given the best chance for a filly or mare upset.

* Yesterday, the Dallas Morning News reported that the Lone Star Jockey Club, which has been associated in the licensing and planning process with Laurel/Pimlico operator Joe De Francis, has joined forces with R. D. Hubbard, a former rival, and is planning the new track as a joint venture with the operator of Hollywood Park.

De Francis said yesterday that he has a "valid and binding contract" with his Lone Star partners and "is performing and expects to continue to perform" consulting and managerial functions.

DE FRANCIS DASH FIELD

Date: Tomorrow. Site: Laurel Race Course.

Probable post time: 4:45 p.m. Purse: $300,000. Distance: Six furlongs.

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