I'm The Tiger clinches Dash

Tiger Heart finishes second

November 19, 2005|By BALTIMORESUN.COM STAFF

I'm the Tiger outran some better-known competitors Saturday with a wire-to-wire victory in the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.

The 5-year-old gelding finished in 1:09.06 to beat favorite Tiger Heart by three lengths in the six-furlong Grade I stakes race.

Clever Electrician, a 49-1 long shot, rallied from ninth to finish third.

"I should have won it last year (with Midas Eyes)," trainer Bobby Frankel said of the De Francis, one of only five open Grade I six-furlong sprints in the country.

I'm the Tiger, one of 50 horses trained by Hall of Famer Frankel and owned by Magna Entertainment chairman Frank Stronach, raced primarily in Canada before being transferred to Belmont Park. He finished second in a stakes race at Saratoga in August and fifth in the Grade I Vosburgh on Oct. 1 at Belmont.

Since I'm the Tiger was not nominated to compete in the Breeders Cup Sprint, Frankel turned his attention to the De Francis.

When the gate opened for the full field of 14, Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey sent I'm the Tiger right to the front and quickly drew clear by a length, chased by Friendly Island on the outside and Tiger Heart on the rail.

As the horses moved into the turn after a half-mile in 45.46 seconds, Elusive Jazz, fifth in the Breeders Cup Sprint, ranged up on the outside. But neither that horse nor Friendly Island could draw abreast of I'm the Tiger.

Past the eighth pole in the stretch, I'm the Tiger began to pull away, while Tiger Heart slipped past a tiring Friendly Island to place second.

I'm the Tiger has now won seven of 16 lifetime starts.

"I just told Jerry he breaks really well," Frankel said. "Then I left it up to him. He took the lead very easily."

The race was the highlight of the Fall Festival of Racing at Laurel Park, a card with eight stakes races and total purses worth $981,000.

In the $125,000 Laurel Futurity, Barbaro turned in a performance suggesting he is among the top 2-year-old grass horses in the country, beating 12 other runners by eight lengths to win the 1 1/16 mile race under jockey Jose Caraballo in 1:40.17.

A crowd of 10,904 turned out for the De Francis. The total handle of $4,748,711 was the most ever wagered in the 16-year history of the race.

November 19, 2005, 6:47 PM EST

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