Nominations for the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, to be run July 18, will be announced tomorrow, and it is shaping up as another highly competitive race.
Although no entry appears to have the reputation of last year's sprinter of the year, Smoke Glacken, the field again will be composed of most of the East's top runners.
Former NFL defensive back Bill Cesare has nominated the 1-2 finishers in the $300,000 Miami Sprint Handicap (tied with the De Francis as the second-richest dash in the country).
They are winner Heckofaralph and runner-up Thunder Breeze, but only one is expected to be shipped here.
Wild Rush, who has emerged as the nation's leader, two Allen Jerkens-trained horses, Kelly Kip and Dice Dancer, and two D. Wayne Lukas trainees, Trafalger and Partner's Hero, also are nominated.
Kelly Kip is coming off a victory in the Finger Lakes Breeders' Cup during which he ran the De Francis distance, six furlongs, in 1: 08 1/5.
The local contingent is expected to be headed by Marathon Farm's Jove Stone, a Dick Dutrow trainee who won the Housebuster Handicap at Pimlico in his last start.
Dutrow believes Kelly Kip will be the favorite if he runs.
"He is definitely the horse to beat," said Dutrow. "I just hope Mr. Jerkens doesn't bring him. But we're planning on running. This horse of mine is always stalking, and you can never count him out. He's been pretty honest lately."
Another possibility is Thisnearlywasmine, trained by Randy Bradshaw in Kentucky.
Track record tied
Secret Firm equaled a track record for seven furlongs at Laurel Park this week while winning his fourth race in a row.
The grandson of Affirmed ran the final three-eighths of a mile in 36 seconds and finished the distance in 1: 21 2/5 while winning by 6 1/2 lengths.
Trained by Graham Motion, the colt now shares the record with Tappiano, who set the mark in the 1989 Barbara Fritchie while in foal and carrying 123 pounds, including Kent Desormeaux.
Laurel Park will simulcast the Red Stripe Jamaica Derby from Caymanas Park as part of its Independence Day card today. The event will be taken through Philadelphia Park and programmed as that track's 11th race at 5: 30 p.m. The athletic field at Laurel Park will be named in honor of Robert T. Griffith on Friday. Griffith, the first recreation director of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horseman's Association, died in February.
Pub Date: 7/04/98