Montbrook surprises in Dash 4 Ladner's mount beats Krone, favored Lion Cavern


A photo of a jockey and horse was misidentified in yesterday's Sports section. It was a photo of jockey Ron Hansen aboard Bolulight, the sixth-place finisher in Sunday's Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Race Course.

The Baltimore Sun regrets the errors.

Ladner out-rode Krone.

In a few words, that sums up the surprising result yesterday of the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Race Course.

Maryland jockey Clarence "Jo Jo" Ladner rode Montbrook to a half-length victory over Julie Krone on favored Lion Cavern and equaled Housebuster's stakes record of 1 minute, 8 3/5 seconds.

Ladner took the shortest way home by sticking close to the rail with the speedy Montbrook in the 6-furlong, $300,000 sprint.

In doing so, he beat Krone, one of the nation's winningest riders, who elected to go four horses wide with the 5-2 favorite.

Krone was all out to hold off another local horse by a nose, the fast-closing Flaming Emperor, who finished third under Larry Reynolds, current leader in Laurel's jockey standings.

Montbrook, fifth choice in the nine-horse field, had won three sprint stakes by racing on the lead.

But yesterday, either by design or by being simply out-run early by Parisian Flight and Secret Odds, he showed he is not a one-dimensional speed horse.

He rallied from fourth, after settling in behind the pair of front-runners who set opening fractions of 21 3/5 seconds for the first quarter and 44 3/5 seconds for the half mile. He raced just behind the filly Meafara until the top of the stretch.

For a while, Ladner was blocked in. But when Parisian Flight tired and dropped back in mid-stretch, Ladner found the room he needed. He rushed up alongside Secret Odds, passed that horse and then hugged the rail until the finish.

"I didn't make a decision to rate him," Ladner said. "It just sort of happened like that. This was a new experience for Montbrook. He's never had mud and dirt kicked in his face, but he handled it well.

"I was a little worried at the top of the lane because there wasn't much room. But all I had to do was get him through an opening, and I had plenty left."

Montbrook's victory was a win for one of Maryland racing's odd couples -- Israel Cohen, the wealthy president and board chairman of Giant Foods, who owns Montbrook, and Dean Gaudet, his shy, almost reclusive horse trainer.

Cohen, who purchased the horse for $260,000 last year as a 2-year-old in Ocala, Fla., watched the race with his chauffeur and few friends in his Laurel box.

Gaudet watched the race from the backstretch, letting her assistant, Gene Leach, saddle the horse in the paddock.

Even though Cohen and Gaudet have campaigned a number of stakes-winning horses over the years -- they won the Laurel Futurity in 1984 with Mighty Appealing -- yesterday's victory in the $300,000 De Francis Dash was the richest of their racing career.

Cohen has spent millions on racehorses. His private barn is a large, airy edifice that hovers over the Laurel backstretch.

And he shuns publicity.

Yesterday he refused to comment after the race.

There was a sense of disillusionment among the losers.

Trainer Billy Mott said Lion Cavern didn't switch leads at the top of the stretch, and that might have cost him the race.

Mott had a bad day all around. Llandaff, his starter in the American Derby at Arlington Park, finished eighth in the nine-horse field.

Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Jerry Bailey said his mount, Senor Speedy, who rallied from last to finish fifth, ran out of room.

"He was flying at the end and 100 yards past the wire was in front," Bailey said. "There just wasn't enough ground for him to catch the front-runners. I don't think the Breeders' Cup Sprint will be much tougher than this."

Again the race proved a jinx for distaff starters. Meafara finished eighth and Parisian Flight was last.

"I really need to talk with the jockey," said Leslie Ahrens, trainer of Meafara. "She was there early in the race, but that was it."

Bobby Barnett, trainer of Parisian Flight, said: "I don't know how she could have finished last. At the top of the stretch, I thought she was getting the lead. I'm concerned she finished last."

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