Jeff Jacobs gets pretty steamed if you mention Hot Jaws in the same breath as another Texas-bred, Itron, who was the last horse from the Lone Star State to ship into Maryland and run in a big race.
Itron, if you remember, is the long shot who flipped in the gate in this year's Preakness and then trailed the field.
But when Hot Jaws hits the track Saturday in the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Dash at Laurel Park, he'll get plenty of respect.
Quite possibly, the 5-year-old Texas-bred will be second or third choice to Dick Dutrow's Grade I stakes winner Lite The Fuse and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Commanche Trail.
"He's going to run well and he'll be the best-looking horse in the paddock," Jacobs said about the gelding. "He doesn't have much pedigree, but he's a runner."
When preliminary Dash entries were taken last week, nine horses were listed in the lineup. Exactly how many will run is still in question. Official entries and post positions won't be drawn until Thursday.
Headliner Lite The Fuse threw a shoe in a workout last week and reportedly had a bruised foot. But owner-trainer Dutrow told Laurel officials that it isn't a problem and that he intends to run him.
In addition to Lite The Fuse, Commanche Trail and Hot Jaws, the other Dash entries include locals Goldminer's Dream and Crumpton; Exclusive Praline; Crafty Dude from California and Friendly Lover and King Ruckus, who were second and fifth, respectively, in the Finger Lakes Budweiser Breeders' Cup on July 4.
It's uncertain now if Friendly Lover and King Ruckus will run, they having raced so recently.
Jacobs said Hot Jaws is a certainty if he comes out of a final Dash workout at Churchill Downs tomorrow in good shape.
Jacobs, 34, is a hot shot on the Midwest circuit.
He recently saddled the winners of two $100,000 stakes in one week -- the filly Humble Eight, who won the National Jockey Club Oaks at Sportsman's Park, and Hot Jaws, winner of the Premier Cashlink Sprint Handicap at Ak-Sar-Ben.
Hot Jaws had won five straight, including the Grade III Count Fleet Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April, until he was defeated a couple of weeks ago in the Aristides Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs. He gave away 12 pounds to the winner, Lukas-trained Boone's Mill, and finished third, beaten by 3 1/2 lengths.
"He got beat up leaving the gate, and then I might not have had him tight enough," Jacobs said. "The race I've really been pointing him for is the [De Francis] Dash."
Hot Jaws was sold as a yearling in Texas for $2,500 and then was resold as a 2-year-old in Louisiana to his current owners, the father-and-son partnership of Dwight and Terry Sutherland of Kansas City, Mo., for $8,200.
After Hot Jaws won several small-time Texas and Louisiana stakes at 2, 3 and 4, the Sutherlands turned the horse over to Jacobs at the Fair Grounds last winter. Since then, he has earned nearly $250,000.
Also, the horse's pedigree is not that obscure. His sire, Lockjaw, might stand for a $500 fee in Texas, but he was a decent racehorse. Lockjaw won or placed in a bunch of 2-year-old stakes, such as the Hawthorne Juvenile, To Market and Mayflower Stakes, and is by Raise a Native's quick son, Raise a Bid.
Jacobs said the next stop for Hot Jaws after the De Francis Dash is Saratoga.
The horse is expected to ship to Laurel in midweek and will be ridden Saturday by Calvin Borel.
Dash's West Coast flavor
Mike Chambers calls him "a big moose."
But the horse's registered name is Crafty Dude.
The 6-year-old is expected to be California's only De Francis Dash entry.
In the race's five previous runnings, 10 horses have been flown to Laurel from the West Coast, with mixed results.
Only one, Superstrike in 1992, has won the race, and only one other California-based horse, Fu Man Slew last year, has finished in the money.
But that's not deterring Chambers, who said the horse that he trains at Santa Anita Park will be flown to Laurel on Tuesday.
"This is a legit horse" he said about the son of Crafty Prospector, who won the six-furlong Oakland Handicap at Golden Gate Fields at the end of May in 1 minute, 8 1/5 seconds.
The horse is also one of the most sparingly raced thoroughbreds in the country. In four years, he has run eight races and won five of them.
The problems that have kept him on the sidelines range from bucked shins to operations on both knees to a strange carpal canal infection that plagued him earlier this year.
"He's a big, heavy horse, weighing between 1,300 to 1,400 pounds, and that's part of his problem," Chambers said.
If Crafty Dude starts, he won't be the only son of speedy Crafty Prospector to start. The stallion also is represented by David Hayden's Goldminer's Dream, who also has overcome his share of physical ailments over the years.
Cigar No. 2 on cash list
When Cigar won the Hollywood Gold Cup last weekend, he moved past Broad Brush to become the second-richest Maryland-bred of all time, behind only Concern.
Cigar has earned $2,779,535, about $209,000 less than Concern, who has $2,989,350 in winnings.
Broad Brush earned $2,656,793.
Concern and Broad Brush are owned and bred by Robert Meyerhoff and were foaled at his Fitzhugh Farm in Baltimore County.
Allen Paulson owns and bred Cigar, who was foaled in Harford County at Country Life Farm.
Lukas also in action in Delaware
Laurel Park won't be the only local track expecting a Lukas-trained horse in the entries this coming weekend.
Lukas is scheduled to run Commanche Trail in the De Francis Dash on Saturday and Low Key Affair on Sunday in the $150,0000 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park.
Low Key Affair is a 4-year-old daughter of Triple Crown winner Affirmed. She recently won the Chicago Budweiser Breeders' Cup Handicap at Arlington International Racecourse.
Lukas also won the Delaware Handicap last year.
Maryland-bred champions Calipha and Smart n' Noble are among the 39 fillies and mares nominated to the race.
Bally Entertainment Corp., which took over operations at Rosecroft/Delmarva raceways last week, is talking to prospective candidates for the job of CEO at the two tracks. Meanwhile, Bally executives Joe D'Amato and Jerry Thornburg are setting up systems and procedures to ensure a smooth transition from Colt Enterprises to Bally management. . . . There is only one Maryland-bred colt being sold next week in the Keeneland, Ky., summer yearling sale. The horse is consigned by Richard Golden of Chesapeake City and is a half-brother to stakes winners Hero's Hurrah and Set To Fly. Another half-brother was Capo Bravo, who collapsed and died after a race at Laurel last week. . . . Jockey Steve Hamilton has set Aug. 26 as the date he'll wed Amy Burke, who works at Laurel/Pimlico in the group sales department. The wedding will take place in Hamilton's hometown of Vian, Okla. Burke's mother is Lois Ryan, director of Laurel/Pimlico's hospitality services department.