De Francis Dash lures Dutrow back

Put up the money and good horses will come.

That's usually the case, and it worked to snare Lite The Fuse and jockey Julie Krone for the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Dash on July 15 at Laurel Park.


For the horse's trainer, Dick Dutrow, the question was whether to return to his former home base at Laurel with a good chance of winning $180,000 or staying put in New York and nailing down $60,000 by winning the True North Handicap on the same day at Belmont Park.

"When you're in that situation, there's really no question what you do," Dutrow said. "You go for the $180,000."


For Dutrow, it's an especially easy decision. He not only trains Lite The Fuse, but also owns the 4-year-old colt who is resuscitating the trainer's flagging career at the New York tracks.

And it means a brief homecoming for Dutrow, one of Maryland's former "Big 3" claiming trainers, along with King Leatherbury and Bud Delp. After leading the Laurel standings for six years during the 1970s, as well as the national standings in 1975 with a then-record 352 wins, Dutrow moved to New York in the mid-1980s.

He has had his share of stakes winners there, but the past couple of years the added-money winners have been few and far between until Lite The Fuse came along.

This year, the Dutrow home-bred has won the Carter Handicap and the Tom Fool Handicap, the latter by 4 3/4 lengths in his last start on June 25.

Dutrow put up the $2,750 pre-entry fee yesterday. The list of preliminary entries won't be released until today, but at least eight other horses have been entered.

They include the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Commanche Trail; Friendly Lover, winner of the Suffolk Downs Budweiser Breeders' Cup; California-based Crafty Dude; Hot Jaws and Exclusive Praline from the Midwest; Canadian-owned King Ruckus, and locals Goldminer's Dream and Crumpton.

NOTES: Delmarva Downs, near Ocean City, reopened for live harness racing last night with an 11-race card. The track will race Wednesday through Saturday, through Sept. 2. . . . Former Pimlico general manager Chick Lang Sr. has been released from Greater Baltimore Medical Center after undergoing successful surgery for prostate cancer. . . . Capo Bravo, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Graham Motion, collapsed on the track and died after finishing fourth yesterday as the even-money favorite in the sixth race. The horse suffered an apparent ruptured aorta, said track veterinarian David Zipf.