Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash set for Saturday

Laurel fall meet starts today

September 19, 2013|Sports Digest

Horse racing

De Francis is Saturday; Laurel opens today

Nine sprinters, including local star Ben's Cat, have been entered in Saturday's 22nd running of the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park. The track's fall meeting begins today and ends Dec. 31, with racing Wednesdays through Saturdays, holidays excluded. The meet includes 31 stakes races, worth more than $3.3 million. Saturday's 11-race Fall Festival of Racing card will begin at 1:10 p.m. The De Francis Dash is an elite 6-furlong sprint that has produced four Eclipse Award champion sprinter winners: Housebuster (1991), Cherokee Run (1994), Smoke Glacken (1997) and Thor's Echo (2006). The festival also features five open stakes races on the turf: the Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds, the Selima Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, the 6-furlong Laurel Dash, the Lady Baltimore Stakes for fillies and mares, the 11/2-mile Laurel Turf Cup, plus the Jameela Stakes for Maryland-breds. Owner-trainer King Leatherbury cross-entered Ben's Cat, one of the top turf sprinters in the country, in the De Francis Dash and the $100,000 Laurel Dash, a race he won two years ago. The 7-year-old is 8-for-12 on the dirt, including three stakes scores, though 13 of his past 14 starts have been on the grass. The son of Parker's Storm Cat has 14 turf stakes wins on his resume. "This has been on our radar since last year when the winner didn't run any faster than Ben's Cat has on the dirt," Leatherbury said. "Once we found out it was a full field on the turf, we decided to cross-enter and will handicap the De Francis and have a choice. There doesn't appear to be any super horses in the race. Early in his career he ran some big races on the dirt but we decided to keep him on the turf and dodge some of the really top horses on the main track. We can make more money by finishing second in the De Francis than winning the other one, which is a good situation to be in. It will be fun to handicap and see where we end up running." Maryland Jockey Club handicapper Keith Feustle has made Ben's Cat the 9-2 second choice on the morning line. Sage Valley is the 9-5 favorite. The son of Discreet Cat has a pair of graded victories this year, visiting the winners' circle in the Maryland Sprint Handicap at Pimlico in May and the James Marvin at Saratoga in July. In his last start, the Rudy Rodriguez trainee was fifth in the Forego (G1). "We are bringing him back a little quickly but he seemed to come out of that race pretty good," Rodriguez said. "I think he should be close to the lead and if he doesn't break well we will be close. It would be nice if he could run as big as he did on Preakness day. He is a very nice looking, well-bred horse. We are having fun with him and hope that continues." Cornelio Velasquez will ride Sage Valley.

Delaware Park: Maryland-based trainer Gary Capuano earned his 1,000th career victory Wednesday at Delaware Park in Wilmington. The milestone came in the second race when Non Stop Stable's Miss Speaker, bred in Maryland, won by a neck in a 6-furlong $5,000 claiming event. Trevor McCarthyCapuano's first victory came at Pimlico Race Course in 1988.

Colleges

C. Williams, Atkinson commit to Hopkins lacrosse

The Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team has picked up oral commitments from Loyola High sophomore midfielder Cole Williams and Calvert Hall sophomore midfielder-faceoff specialist Bradd Atkinson. Williams scored five goals and 11 assists on varsity with the Dons and plays for the Looney's club team. Last season, Atkinson won 63 percent of faceoffs and recorded 28 ground balls, six goals and seven assists. He played this summer for the Baltimore Lacrosse Club Crabs 2016 team.

Inside Lacrosse

More men's lacrosse: Cecil College is preparing for its first varsity season this spring under coach David Eddinger. Eddinger (Fallston) played and was an assistant coach at Harford Community College. He will be supported by assistant coach James LaPenna, volunteer assistants Omar Rahman and Clayton Emory, and recruiter Christopher Palfi.

Football: Navy sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference Football Bowl Subdivision Offensive Player of the Week. Reynolds completed 10 of 13 passes for a career-high 233yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 109 yards in Navy's 51-7 win over Delaware. ... McDaniel senior running back Joe Rollins and senior linebacker Mike Cousar were named to the D3football.com Team of the Week.

Swimming: Loyola Maryland coach Brian Loeffler was named the Jimi Flowers Disability Coach of the Year at the United States Aquatic Sports convention last week. In 21 years at Loyola, Loeffler has coached several Paralympians, including current Greyhounds Joe Wise and Becca Meyers (Notre Dame Prep) and former Greyhounds Philip Scholz and Bradley Snyder.

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