Immortal Eyes takes DeFrancis Dash at Laurel Park

Robert Abbo Racing Stable's Immortal Eyes left the gate in a flash, opened up quickly on his rivals and won the $350,000 Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash handily over the sloppy track Saturday at Laurel Park.

The Fall Festival of Racing program also featured five open stakes races on the turf course plus the Jameela Stakes for Maryland-breds.


Travis Dunkelberger and Immortal Eyes were 63/4 lengths in front of Saturday's Charm at the finish of the De Francis, in a time of 1 minute, 8.47 seconds for the 6-furlong distance. Service For Ten edged long shot Royal Currier to take third.

"It was easy, just like playing," Dunkelberger said. "I never looked around. I didn't hear any horses coming so I just let him gallop. I know he loves the mud because he set a track record at Charles Town in the mud and I was on him that day."


Damon Dilodovico trains Immortal Eyes at the Bowie Training Center. The son of Greatness was winning his fourth stakes this year including the Valentine's Day Handicap at Charles Town in February and the Mr Prospector and Teddy Drone at Monmouth Park this summer.

In last year's DeFrancis Dash, 8-year-old Immortal Eyes finished third after a poor start at the break. He finished second in this race in 2011, beaten just a half-length by Candyman E.

"This is his third year in the race and he's been second, third and now a winner," Dilodovico said. "I was so confident going into this race. Travis and I had made a decision. We would be in front and they would have to come and get us. He's kind of a temperamental horse, so it's good when he gets out in the clear and you don't have to fuss with him too much. This is definitely the best race I've ever won and the whole stable deserves a ton of credit for it."

The $210,000 earned in the victory pushed Immortal Eyes over the $1 million mark to $1,090,051.

Laurel Dash Stakes: Ben's Cat was tested while taken extremely wide down the lane and still got up to win the $100,000 race.

Former Maryland-based apprentice rider Rosie Napravnik on Mr. Online did her best to keep Ben's Cat from scoring his 18th stakes victory but the King Leatherbury trainee, under Julian Pimentel, is just too good on his home turf, and he completed the 6-furlong distance in 1:07.40. Their duel started in the middle of the stretch and ended close to the outside rail, with the margin of victory a neck.

The son of Parker's Storm Cat, who became Leatherbury's first millionaire last year, has won 23 of 35 starts for earnings of $1,695,640. He has 15 victories (all stakes) in 23 turf starts, including the 2011 Laurel Dash.

Laurel Turf Cup: Under a patient ride by Napravnik, Tricky Hat took the short way home, arriving first at the finish in the 11/2-mile $100,000 race.


Scoring his first stakes victory and fourth lifetime win for trainer Shug McGaughey, Tricky Hat stalked the pacesetters while saving ground during the marathon turf test contested in the rain. When the field turned for home, Tricky Hat emerged from the pack along the rail, opened a short lead and held off late closer Eagle Poise to win by a neck. Macho Mas Macho was third.

Lady Baltimore Stakes: Andrew Stone's Strathnaver traveled most of the way with the pack, then slipped out entering the stretch and was up in the final strides to win the $100,000 race for fillies and mares.

Second choice on the morning line but allowed to drift up to odds of 12.40-1, Strathnaver won for the third time in the United States after beginning her career in England. Strathnaver completed the 11/16 miles in 1:40.98.

Selima Stakes: David & Margaret Wimer's Aibhilin threaded her way through traffic and was up in time to win the $100,000 race for 2-year old fillies.

Ridden by Edwin Rivera and trained by Cal Lynch, Aibhilin caught post-time favorite Hot Squeeze in the last jump to win by a nose in 1:02.25 for the 51/2-furlong distance over the firm turf. Pure Lady Like took third.

Jameela Stakes: Nutmeg Stable's Madame Giry sustained a ferocious rally, first to catch and then fend off Ju Ju Eyeballs to win the $100,000 race for Maryland-bred fillies and mares.


Covering the firm turf in 1:08.11 for the 6-furlong distance, Madame Giry rallied from far back under the urging of Cornelio Velasquez to win by a nose.

Laurel Futurity: Trilogy Stable & Laurie Plesa's Yes I'm Lucky broke on top and was in complete command to the finish line to win the $100,000 race for 2-year-olds.

Chris DeCarlo was on board as the son of Yes It's True completed the 51/2-furlong distance over the firm turf in 101.30, 61/2 lengths ahead of a rallying Tiger Bourbon and Napravnik.