`Gold' rushes from California, set to strike while hot at Dash

Gelding to go head-to-head with Xtra Heat at Laurel


Horse Racing

November 13, 2001|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Kona Gold, champion sprinter of 2000, will board a plane in California today and fly to Maryland to take on Xtra Heat, the local heroine, in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash on Saturday at Laurel Park.

Bruce Headley, Kona Gold's trainer, said yesterday that he had decided to send the 7-year-old gelding cross-country after a blazing workout at Santa Anita Park. Traveling with Kona Gold to run in the De Francis Dash will be the speedy Caller One and the lightly raced Early Flyer. They will join a prospective seven-horse field that includes the New York-based Delaware Township in what would be one of the year's top sprint races.

"This is the best I could have hoped for," said David Rollinson, Laurel stakes coordinator, who recruited the field.

Xtra Heat, the 3-year-old filly stabled at Laurel, finished second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Oct. 27 at Belmont Park. Caller One finished third, Delaware Township sixth and Kona Gold, the favorite, seventh.

The De Francis Dash, a six-furlong sprint worth $300,000, will highlight an afternoon of six stakes races at Laurel. The Dash is one of only three Grade I stakes in Maryland. The others are the Preakness and Pimlico Special.

At 11th hour, more time

The Maryland Racing Commission has extended its deadline for the state's thoroughbred and harness factions to settle their disputes.

At its monthly meeting two weeks ago, the commission set a deadline of today for the disparate groups to settle issues of revenue sharing and simulcasting or face commission-imposed sanctions. Lou Ulman, chairman of the racing commission, said yesterday that the sides have made an honest effort at resolving differences.

The main dispute involves a revenue-sharing agreement between the harness and thoroughbred industries that the harness side wants to dissolve. Joe De Francis, head of the company that owns Pimlico and Laurel Park, says that ending the agreement would cost the thoroughbred industry about $7 million a year.

In a related matter, Ulman said that the Maryland Jockey Club had demonstrated to the attorney general's office that its contract with TVG is legal. TVG, the 24-hour racing network, operates in several Maryland counties.

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