Zee Bros surprises crowd in De Francis Dash

Zee Bros, dismissed at odds of 29-1, proved to be the swiftest of all in the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, the marquee race in Saturday's Fall Festival of Racing at Laurel Park, which featured six stakes.

D. Wayne Lukas trains the 4-year-old son of Brother Derek, who was making his fourth start for his Hall of Fame connections.


"Nobody does it better than Wayne when it comes to running in the big races," assistant trainer Tim Austin said. "We got this horse right after the Saratoga meet. It took a few weeks to figure him out, but in his last four workouts I know they saw a big improvement in him. This horse is really doing well right now."

Zee Bros completed the 6-furlong distance in 1 minute, 8.77seconds, just under a second off the track record of 1:07.95.


Happy My Way backed off the speedy pace but rallied to take second. Bern Identity finished third. Dads Caps, the 9-5 betting choice, finished fourth.

Zee Bros paid $60.20 and topped a $471.20 exacta, a $1,557.20 trifecta and $4,669.10 superfecta.

Jose Ortiz, who was originally scheduled to ride La Verdad, picked up the mount for the injured Alex Cintron, who suffered facial fractures, including a broken jaw, in a spill at Laurel on Friday afternoon. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

"My agent called Mr. Lukas when La Verdad was scratched," Ortiz said. "I was available because I had taken off of all of my mounts to come here today. I was very sorry to have to get this mount the way that I did and I wish Alex the best. Mr. Lukas told me that this horse had the talent and the speed, to make sure that we broke well and go after it. I kept him exactly where he needed to be, and when I asked him he gave me all that I needed. I was pretty sure I had them beat about halfway down the stretch."

It was the first De Francis Dash score for Lukas, who has six Preakness victories.

In other races:

•Stormin Monarcho enjoyed a perfect trip, stalking the leaders until he was asked to go, then spurting to the lead and drawing off to win in the $100,000 Richard W. Small Stakes.

Jevian Toledo picked up the mount from Cintron and helped the David Jacobson-trained runner to a 23/4-length triumph in 1:49.32 for the 11/8-mile distance. Page McKenney was second, while Beautyinthepulpit finished third.


"There was a lot of speed in this race, so I put my horse behind them in a good spot," Toledo said. "There were horses fighting it out on the front end and mine was going nice and easy. At the quarter-pole I had a lot of horse left, and I asked him to go and he responded well."

The winner, a son of Monarchos, raced in New York and Delaware Park this summer with two optional allowance wins before venturing to Gulfstream Park West for his most recent start, a fourth-place finish in a minor stakes.

Stormin Monarcho paid $7.40.

The race included a spill at the top of the stretch. Maryland Million Turf winner Talk Show Man was bumped by Turco Bravo and went down, tossing jockey Xavier Perez. Talk Show Man got up and galloped back to trainer Hamilton Smith's barn on the Laurel backstretch. Perez walked back to the jocks room under his own power but did not ride his final mount on the card.

•Who's In Town tipped off the rail, steered out five wide into the stretch and took command of the $100,000 Safely Kept Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Michael Matz trains the Speightstown filly, who won an allowance prep at Laurel on Sept. 29. Shayjolie finished second, three-quarters of a length behind the winner. True Romance took third.


"We have been very pleased with all of her previous races," Matz said. "If you look at any of her races, you can see that she always tries very hard. Even when other horses are right at her head she continues on."

Julian Pimentel picked up the mount from Cintron.

"In the paddock, Mr. Matz told me that this is most lovely filly in the barn. She is a treasure to be around and I would enjoy riding her," Pimentel said. "She was great in the post parade and we got a very good break. I could have gone to the front but she seemed like she would relax. I took her back and when the horses on the lead started to weaken, I angled her to the outside, asked her to pick it up and she quickly went to the lead. I had some horse left, and couldn't have asked for a better trip."

Who's In Town covered the 7 furlongs in 1:23.68 and paid $11.40. She has eight in-the-money finishes in 11 career starts with earnings of $210,897.

•Last down the backstretch and moving through traffic to the top of the lane, Griff steered out to the middle of the course and got up to take the $100,000 City Of Laurel Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Tim Hills trains the son of Rockport Harbor, and Abel Castellano was at the controls as Griff covered the 7-furlong distance in 1:21.92. Long shot Cutty Shark looked like the winner at the eighth-pole but settled for second, 21/4 lengths behind the winner. Bump Start finished third.


"I was worried about how he'd pick his way through 13 others to find the outside," Hills said. "At the three-eighths I thought, 'He's not even going to be on the board.' Five strides later, he's rolling to the front."

This was the first stakes win for Griff, who paid $10.80 and topped a $244.20 exacta and $614 trifecta.

"There was a lot of speed in the race, so I just let him break and the plan was to catch up later," Castellano said. "I was on the rail with a big field ahead of me and I was trying to find myself clear. I pulled outside and it seemed like everybody else went inside, so I split horses and my horse just started running and drew clear."

•Cinco Charlie became a three-time stakes winner when he blew away his competition in the $100,000 James F. Lewis III Stakes for 2-year-olds.

Away sharply under Ricardo Santana, Cinco Charlie raced outside and dueled speedy Machination before drawing away to a 23/4-length victory in 1:09.74 for the 6-furlong distance on the main track. Majestic Affair rallied to take second, and Senor Grits was third.

"My horse broke well and I had a lot of horse down the backstretch and around the turn," Santana said. "We were in a good place. We got in no trouble. I asked him to go at the top of the stretch and he showed his class. I think he's going to be a great sprinter next year."


The Steve Asmussen-trained son of Indian Charlie captured the Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs in June, the First State Dash at Delaware Park in September and finished in the money in a pair of graded stakes races in New York.

•Lake Sebago emerged from a scramble to capture the $100,000 Smart Halo Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, the first of six stakes races on the nine-race card.

Lake Sebago was last of six moving around the turn before Trevor McCarthy sent her through a gap to catch E Dubai's Humor and beat that horse by a half-length. Overprepared, the 2-5 favorite from the Todd Pletcher barn, finished third.

"Blinkers made a huge difference," McCarthy said. "She worked great in them and I knew she was going to be tough today. She broke good out of the gate and relaxed nicely for me. We got a perfect trip sitting behind horses. When a hole opened up and I asked her to go, she really exploded the last eighth of a mile and stretched out nice."

Jerry Robb trains the daughter of Munnings. The filly paid $56.40.