De Francis Dash shelved

races go Sept. 11 to Dec. 18

August 20, 2010|By From Sun staff reports

The 57-day fall meeting at Laurel Park will not include the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, which has been a staple of the fall stakes schedule since 2001.

Introduced in 1990, the De Francis Dash is one of the elite six-furlong sprints in the country with four of the 19 winners — Housebuster (1991), Cherokee Run (1994), Smoke Glacken (1997) and Thor's Echo (2006) — earning Eclipse Award honors for champion sprinter.

The American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association downgraded the Dash from Grade I to Grade II status in December.

"Putting the Dash on the shelf for the year has nothing to do with it no longer being a Grade I race," the Maryland Jockey Club's president, Tom Chuckas, said. "We … feel the $300,000 purse would be better suited on daily purses throughout the meet."

The race also wasn't held in 2008 — that year because of a purse account shortfall.

This year's fall schedule, announced Thursday after an agreement between the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, will begin Sept. 11 and conclude Dec. 18.

There will be 19 stakes races worth $1.45million. Headlining the stand is the 25th running of the Jim McKay Maryland Million on Oct. 2. The Million is a program for the offspring of state-based stallions; Maryland-sired thoroughbreds are nominated before they become 2-year-olds and remain eligible for life for Million races.

The current Laurel Park summer meeting ends Sunday. Live racing shifts to Timonium for the seven-day fair meet (Aug. 27-28-29-Sept. 3-4-5-6).

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