Yes It's True puts sprinting on display in De Francis win

Top 3-year-old edges `Tough' by 3/4 of length

July 18, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Yes, it is true. The road to the Eclipse Award for the nation's top sprinter is now curving toward Padua Stable.

The stable's precocious 3-year-old, Yes It's True, took another giant step on that highway yesterday with an impressive three-quarter length score over a game Good and Tough to win the 10th running of the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at steamy Laurel Park.

Upgraded to Grade I status this year, the De Francis boiled down to a two-horse race and the muscular youngster captured his fourth straight in a streak that began on Preakness Day when he avoided the intruder on the track who tried to hit Artax to win the Grade III Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap.

"He is a drop-dead gorgeous horse," gushed Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who admitted he has never enjoyed much success at Laurel. "This is a very muscular horse, a study in conformation. You have to drag him around the track because he's so muscular.

"So we made a commitment to stay under a mile with him."

The prototypal sprinter became only the second 3-year-old to capture the De Francis, following Smoke Glacken, who proceeded to the Eclipse Award without running in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

That is not the plan for Yes It's True, a son of Is It True by a Clever Trick mare who will venture into New York for rich Saratoga sprints next month and point toward the Breeders' Cup.

"Upcoming plans are to get out of the heat and go up to upstate New York under the trees at Saratoga," said Lukas. "We'll get on a program that leads to the Breeders' Cup and a championship. We've really been enjoying the ride."

Yes It's True's adaptability will be a big factor. He has won at Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, Pimlico, Belmont Park and Monmouth Park during his spurt this year, with his only defeat coming to Patience Game in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs. That race is at a mile and the colt tired to fourth after running in a stalking position most of the way.

Jockey Jerry Bailey, who has been aboard since March, said Yes It's True was "not as sharp as he can be" yesterday. "But it worked out for the best. The horse didn't get a good start, but that really paid off because he had plenty left when he needed it."

Local speedsters Nimble and Storm Punch shot out to contend for the early lead and turned quick fractions (22 seconds, 44 4/5 and 56 3/5) with Bailey content to let them duel it out while lying third.

By early stretch, Yes It's True was right on Storm Punch's flanks while Nimble faded out of contention. At the eighth pole Bailey went by Storm Punch and Good and Tough -- who spotted the winner 9 pounds -- was making a bid while coming up on the inside.

"That wasn't the best place to be on that track," said Shane Sellers, rider of the runner-up. "I wanted to get him off the rail. I thought I'd be able to follow Yes It's True, but he stayed outside of me the whole race. I had no choice. I had to play the hand I was dealt."

Sellers said Storm Punch, ridden by Mark Johnston, began "leaning on me. I think that might have made a difference."

Good and Tough just couldn't get there, losing for only the second time in six starts, but beating Mint for the fifth consecutive time. Despite quick recent works at Calder, Mint was never in contention and finished fourth.

The victorious time was 1: 08 3/5 for six furlongs, shy of Fighting Notion's track record of 1: 08 and a fifth slower than the stakes record set by Kelly Kip last year. Yes It's True is now 11-for-17 lifetime with earnings of more than $1 million.

Owner Satish Sanan was elated with his first Grade I victory and cited an objective of winning "every one of the classics. We have the best management team in the world to help us do that."

Lukas said the colt will probably compete in two of three Saratoga stakes, the Phenomenon, the King's Bishop and the Vosburgh during the normal August meeting at the Spa.

He shipped in to Maryland early yesterday morning, attempting to beat the oppressive heat of the day.

"It worked out well," Lukas said. "We gave him a little sponge bath and he was fine. But this has always been a very versatile horse with a great mind. This time, everything fell into place."

Pub Date: 7/18/99

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