De Francis Dash draws 9 entries

Futurity, with 14, 1 of 8 stakes on card

Horse Racing

November 23, 2006|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN REPORTER

A year ago, Barbaro came to Laurel Park for the Laurel Futurity on Frank De Francis Dash day and made such an impact that after the race his trainer, Michael Matz, said he would have to give the horse a try on dirt in Florida over the winter.

From here, Barbaro, as most know, went on to win the Kentucky Derby.

"He was a special horse," said Matz, who has five entries on Saturday's card, but none in either the Futurity or the De Francis Dash. "I wish I had a horse in every stakes. But that's the way it goes. Barbaro has [left] big shoes to fill. We're hoping the horses we have will develop."

Yesterday, 14 horses drew for the Futurity, one of eight stakes races on the card. The De Francis Dash, the Grade I, $300,000 sprint for 3-year-olds and up, drew nine entries, including favorite Thor's Echo, who starts in the outside post and comes in off a big victory in the Breeders' Cup sprint.

The De Francis Dash day is the fourth richest in Maryland racing. It joins the Preakness, Pimlico Special and Maryland Million as the state's four million-dollar-plus purse days.

Total purse money Saturday will be $1,067,000, while the participants in the day's eight stakes races will be running for $1,025,000 of the total number.

Among the horses Matz will have here are Street Sounds and Scenery Change in the Selima Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Street Sounds, a dark brown daughter of Street Cry, is likely to be among the favorites in the race, while Scenery Change, by Royal Academy, is, like Barbaro, owned and bred by Roy and Gretchen Jackson. But she is even more of an unknown than most 2-year-olds in the race.

"She doesn't have the experience," Matz said, "but she's worked very well. She's bred to be a nice horse. We're excited about her prospects."

Laurel Park will be open as usual on this Thanksgiving Day, but the time of the first post changes to 11 a.m.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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