'Punching' KO's foes by 5 1/2 lengths Luzzi rides gelding to N. Dancer win

November 14, 1993|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

The only question was whether Jest Punching could go the distance.

A sprinter who had not gone farther than seven furlongs, the 3-year-old gelding answered with an exclamation point yesterday, galloping off to a 5 1/2 -length victory over Wa Bert in the $100,000 Northern Dancer Stakes at Laurel Race Course.

In what was likely his final start of a 6-for-11 year, Jest Punching had no trouble with the two turns and 1 1/8 miles, running a crisp 1 minute, 49 2/5 seconds over a track that had produced rather sluggish times all day.

"He did everything right," said winning jockey Mike Luzzi. "I don't think we could ask for anything more."

It was the third stakes win for Jest Punching in his past four starts, and the $60,000 winner's share pushed his career earnings near $200,000.

Trained by Gary Capuano, Jest Punching has been on the board in 12 of 13 outings.

There was never any real strategy involved in the race. Luzzi took the lead from Wa Bert and jockey Kenneth Bourque at the half-mile pole, fought off a challenge on the final turn by Pescagani and Edgar Prado and whipped away from the field.

"We got to within a neck of the leader, but once we got close, he just went away from us," said Prado.

"I tried to stay down on the rail to save as much ground as I could, but it didn't seem to do any good," said Bourque. "The winner was tough."

Favored Jest Punching returned $4.40 to win.

De Francis plans appeal

Laurel-Pimlico president Joe De Francis and general counsel Martin Jacobs have instituted legal action that could defer a settlement of the tracks' ownership far beyond a Jan. 31 deadline.

According to a story in yesterday's Washington Post, they are seeking to appeal a Baltimore City Circuit Court's Aug. 6 ruling that enforced the Russian roulette provision of the stockholders' agreement with estranged partners Tom and Bob Manfuso.

De Francis would not comment specifically yesterday on his plans regarding the matter but said that he is seeking "a complete and final resolution" of the dispute. Under the provision of the agreement, the Manfusos have offered to sell their stock to the De Francis majority for $8.2 million. If De Francis does not buy by Jan. 31, he must sell to the Manfusos at the same price.

The track executives have asked the court for a "partial final judgment" of other unresolved claims in the litigation. If those are not considered until March, as scheduled, the chance for an appeal of the Aug. 6 ruling would be "irretrievably lost" according to the petitioners.

De Francis claims that the question of track ownership would not be completely settled through Russian roulette as long as the other litigation is pending.

The Post reported that the Manfuso side regarded the action as a delaying tactic and quoted Tom Manfuso as saying: "There's no question in my opinion that he [De Francis] isn't willing to sell and isn't able to buy."

Miscellaneous

The 11-race card ended in virtual darkness and, naturally, with a tight finish in the finale. With the official photo unusable to determine a winner, the three placing judges decided from sight and viewing video replays that long shot Five For Fun had nosed favored Total Immersion. . . . Today's full-card simulcast schedule starts at 12:30 p.m. and includes Aqueduct, Philadelphia Park, Calder and Santa Anita. . . . Apprentice jockey Wilfredo Lozano returned from a seven-day suspension, but did not win with four mounts. . . . Algebar Henderson had a $106.80 victory in the fifth race that set up a $9,883.40 triple payoff.

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