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NTRA Thoroughbred Notebook

Nine sharp sprinters have been entered in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park in Laurel, Md. The De Francis Dash is one of just three Grade I races contested in Maryland, along with the Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, and the historic Pimlico Special.
Introduced in 1990, the De Francis Dash is one of the elite six-furlong sprints in the country with four of the 18 winners — Housebuster (1991), Cherokee Run (1994), Smoke Glacken (1997) and Thor’s Echo (2006) — earning Eclipse Award honors for champion sprinter.
Favoritism for this year’s renewal has been bestowed upon Godolphin Stable’s talented three-year-old Vineyard Haven (8-5 in the morning line), who was disqualified from first and placed second in his last start, the Grade I King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga on August 29. Vineyard Haven will break from the rail under Alan Garcia.
“He’s had an easy time for a couple of weeks after that race but once he got back at Belmont we gave him a couple of easy half miles and then we had him stride along and he looked great doing that. [Yesterday] he went 47 and 1 and I’m very happy with his preparations,” said assistant trainer Rick Mettee. “We think he’s fit, sound and ready to run another big race. It is not going to be easy from the rail but we are 8-5 in a Grade I so we’ll take our chances.”
The son of Lido Palace (CHI) won a pair of Grade I races during his two-year-old campaign. Last time out, Vineyard Haven ran a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure in the King’s Bishop. However, three of his competitors also produced triple digit numbers in their last start, including the 9-2 second choice Fleet Valid.
Fleet Valid ran a 100 Beyer in an easy score in the Icecapade Stakes at Monmouth Park on September 7. The son of Montbrook, who won the 1993 De Francis Dash, has won four straight since being claimed by trainer Scott Volk for $14,000.
“This is as good as it gets,” Volk said. “He’s got a lot of back class and for $14,000 you take a chance. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. He’s gotten better every time he’s run for us. It’s an amazing story. We never dreamed this would happen. He returned to his old form. Somehow he’s come back to life.”
The complete field for the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, in post position order, is: Vineyard Haven (jockey: Alan Garcia, morning line odds: 8-5); Roaring Lion (Elvis Trujillo, 6-1); Ravalo (Jeremy Rose, 8-1); Fleet Valid (Pablo Morales, 9-2); True Quality (C.C. Lopez, 5-1); Peace Chant (Jorge Chavez, 12-1); Sacred Journey (David Cohen, 15-1); Saratoga Russell (Channing Hill, 20-1); and Ah Day (Sheldon Russell, 12-1).

CALDER dONATES aDDITIONAL $10,000 TO “Pure Thoughts”
Calder Casino & Race Course and the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association have each made strong financial commitments this year to Pure Thoughts Inc. Horse & Foal Rescue and Thoroughbred Rehabilitation & Placement. On Saturday, Oct. 17 – Festival of the Sun day – Calder donated an additional $10,000 to the cause in a winner’s circle presentation.
Pure Thoughts is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission, in part, is to save horses from slaughter, neglect and abuse. Earlier this year, the Pure Thoughts farm, located in Loxahatchee, Fla., expanded its Thoroughbred division to accept racehorses from South Florida that can no longer compete on the racetrack, and provide them with a safe home and the opportunity to be rehabilitated if needed. The goals of Pure Thoughts also include the proper placement of horses and insuring the safety of the placed horses throughout the rest of their lives.
Along with the FHBPA and donations from fans on special race days at Calder, over $50,000 has been raised for Pure Thoughts, which has serviced 30 intakes and placed 12 adoptions so far this year. Those interested individuals in making a tax-deductible contribution to Pure Thoughts should contact Jennifer Swanson at Pure Thoughts, Inc., at (561) 254-0415. More information can also be found online at

Oct. 22, 1945: El Lobo and Featherfoot became the first Thoroughbreds to be transported by airplane. They were flown from Los Angeles to San Mateo in a twin-engine Budd transport plane piloted by Maj. William Hoelle of the Flying Tiger Line, who landed the plane in the parking area at Bay Meadows. On Oct. 27, El Lobo won the Burlingame Handicap at Bay Meadows, proving that horses could fly (and win).
Oct. 22, 1955: A rare triple dead-heat for first took place at Mexico’s Caliente in the eighth race. Stormsorno, Chance Speed and Beaufair were the three winners.
Oct. 22, 1964: Jockey Bill Shoemaker won the 5,000th victory of his career aboard Slapstick at Aqueduct Race Track.
Oct. 22, 1973: Secretariat was flown to Woodbine Racecourse, where he would compete in his final career race, the Canadian International Championship Stakes.
Oct. 24, 1877: Congress adjourned to see a race between Parole, Ten Broek and Tom Ochiltree, which was held at Pimlico.
Oct. 24, 1953: Tom Fool won the Pimlico Special Stakes by eight lengths, capping a perfect four-year-old campaign with 10 stakes wins in as many starts. The Special was his fourth consecutive race run as a non-betting exhibition. Tom Fool was voted Horse of the Year for 1953, acing out Native Dancer, who lost only one of his 10 stakes races that year, the Kentucky Derby.
Oct. 24, 2008: Breeders’ Cup conducted its first all-female card, with the colts and geldings races all being held on the second day of the two-day event at Oak Tree at Santa Anita.
Oct. 25, 1870: Pimlico, the nation’s second-oldest Thoroughbred racetrack, began its inaugural meet.
Oct. 25, 1947: After winning the Gallant Fox Handicap at Jamaica, a former $1,500 claimer, Stymie, became the world’s leading money-winning Thoroughbred, with earnings of $816,060. Stymie raced two additional years and retired in 1949, at age eight, with lifetime winnings of $918,485.
Oct. 25, 2003: Trainer Richard Mandella set a single-day record winning four Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships races at Santa Anita. Mandella saddled Halfbridled to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; Action This Day in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; Johar to a dead-heat win in the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf; and Pleasantly Perfect in the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, Powered by Dodge. The Johar dead heat with High Chaparral in the Turf marked the first dead heat in Breeders’ Cup history. And in guiding Halfbridled to victory, jockey Julie Krone became the first woman to ride the winner of a Breeders’ Cup flat race.
Oct. 26, 1949: Bill Shoemaker rode to his first stakes victory, the George Marshall Claiming Handicap at Bay Meadows, aboard a five-year-old horse named Al.
Oct. 26, 1990: Jockey Julie Krone rode her 2,000th career winner, aboard John Forbes-trained Rainbow Quartz, at The Meadowlands.
Oct. 26, 1996: The Breeders’ Cup was held outside the U.S. for the first time, at Woodbine Racecourse in Toronto, Canada. At Woodbine, Jenine Sahadi became the first female trainer to saddle a Breeders’ Cup winner when she sent Lit de Justice to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Oct. 27, 1870: Preakness won the Dinner Stakes at the newly opened Pimlico Racecourse. In 1873, the first Preakness Stakes, a race was named in his honor, was held at Pimlico.
Oct. 27, 1990: Bayakoa (ARG) became the second horse to win two consecutive Breeders’ Cup Championship races. Both of her victories came in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Oct. 27, 2001: Tiznow, 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic champion and Horse of the Year, won the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Classic for a second straight year, outdueling European sensation Sakhee in the stretch at the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park. Total wagering on the 10-race program was $104,145,186, the second highest Breeders’ Cup total in history, just behind the 2000 total of $108,603,040.
Oct. 27, 2001: Participants in the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships donated more than $2.7 million from their purse earnings to the NTRA Charities – New York Heroes Fund, established to benefit the children and spouses of the firefighters, police officers, emergency workers and other victims who perished in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Sheikh Mohammed’s Dubai-based Godolphin stable, which pledged 100 percent of its Breeders’ Cup earnings to the Heroes Fund, donated approximately $2.5 million on the day, thanks in part to wins by two of his horses, Fantastic Light and Tempera.
Oct. 27, 2001, Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel saw his 0-for-38 streak in Breeders’ Cup races come to an end when Squirtle Squirt won the Penske Auto Centers Breeders’ Cup Sprint.