De Francis is Saturday; Laurel opens today
Nine sprinters, including local star Ben's Cat, have been entered in Saturday's 22nd running of the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park. The track's fall meeting begins today and ends Dec. 31, with racing Wednesdays through Saturdays, holidays excluded. The meet includes 31 stakes races, worth more than $3.3 million. Saturday's 11-race Fall Festival of Racing card will begin at 1:10 p.m. The De Francis Dash is an elite 6-furlong sprint that has produced four Eclipse Award champion sprinter winners: Housebuster (1991), Cherokee Run (1994), Smoke Glacken (1997) and Thor's Echo (2006). The festival also features five open stakes races on the turf: the Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds, the Selima Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, the 6-furlong Laurel Dash, the Lady Baltimore Stakes for fillies and mares, the 11/2-mile Laurel Turf Cup, plus the Jameela Stakes for Maryland-breds. Owner-trainer King Leatherbury cross-entered Ben's Cat, one of the top turf sprinters in the country, in the De Francis Dash and the $100,000 Laurel Dash, a race he won two years ago. The 7-year-old is 8-for-12 on the dirt, including three stakes scores, though 13 of his past 14 starts have been on the grass. The son of Parker's Storm Cat has 14 turf stakes wins on his resume. "This has been on our radar since last year when the winner didn't run any faster than Ben's Cat has on the dirt," Leatherbury said. "Once we found out it was a full field on the turf, we decided to cross-enter and will handicap the De Francis and have a choice. There doesn't appear to be any super horses in the race. Early in his career he ran some big races on the dirt but we decided to keep him on the turf and dodge some of the really top horses on the main track. We can make more money by finishing second in the De Francis than winning the other one, which is a good situation to be in. It will be fun to handicap and see where we end up running." Maryland Jockey Club handicapper Keith Feustle has made Ben's Cat the 9-2 second choice on the morning line. Sage Valley is the 9-5 favorite. The son of Discreet Cat has a pair of graded victories this year, visiting the winners' circle in the Maryland Sprint Handicap at Pimlico in May and the James Marvin at Saratoga in July. In his last start, the Rudy Rodriguez trainee was fifth in the Forego (G1). "We are bringing him back a little quickly but he seemed to come out of that race pretty good," Rodriguez said. "I think he should be close to the lead and if he doesn't break well we will be close. It would be nice if he could run as big as he did on Preakness day. He is a very nice looking, well-bred horse. We are having fun with him and hope that continues." Cornelio Velasquez will ride Sage Valley.
Delaware Park: Maryland-based trainer Gary Capuano earned his 1,000th career victory Wednesday at Delaware Park in Wilmington. The milestone came in the second race when Non Stop Stable's Miss Speaker, bred in Maryland, won by a neck in a 6-furlong $5,000 claiming event. Trevor McCarthyCapuano's first victory came at Pimlico Race Course in 1988.
C. Williams, Atkinson commit to Hopkins lacrosse
The Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team has picked up oral commitments from Loyola High sophomore midfielder Cole Williams and Calvert Hall sophomore midfielder-faceoff specialist Bradd Atkinson. Williams scored five goals and 11 assists on varsity with the Dons and plays for the Looney's club team. Last season, Atkinson won 63 percent of faceoffs and recorded 28 ground balls, six goals and seven assists. He played this summer for the Baltimore Lacrosse Club Crabs 2016 team.
More men's lacrosse: Cecil College is preparing for its first varsity season this spring under coach David Eddinger. Eddinger (Fallston) played and was an assistant coach at Harford Community College. He will be supported by assistant coach James LaPenna, volunteer assistants Omar Rahman and Clayton Emory, and recruiter Christopher Palfi.
Football: Navy sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference Football Bowl Subdivision Offensive Player of the Week. Reynolds completed 10 of 13 passes for a career-high 233yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 109 yards in Navy's 51-7 win over Delaware. ... McDaniel senior running back Joe Rollins and senior linebacker Mike Cousar were named to the D3football.com Team of the Week.
Swimming: Loyola Maryland coach Brian Loeffler was named the Jimi Flowers Disability Coach of the Year at the United States Aquatic Sports convention last week. In 21 years at Loyola, Loeffler has coached several Paralympians, including current Greyhounds Joe Wise and Becca Meyers (Notre Dame Prep) and former Greyhounds Philip Scholz and Bradley Snyder.
Men's soccer: Larry Ndjock converted a game-tying penalty kick in the 67th minute and Stephen Dooley scored in the 84th to rally Loyola (5-0-1) to a 2-1 victory over visiting Princeton (1-3-0). Earlier, Ndjock was named to the Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week for the second straight week.
Women's soccer: Senior Pamela Vranis and junior Sydney Teng scored, and freshmen Adrienne Johnson and Alexa Rangecroft added their first career goals as Johns Hopkins (8-0), ranked second in Division III, earned a 4-1 victory at St. Mary's (1-4-2).
Okafor out indefinitely; Singleton to miss 6-8 weeks
The Washington Wizards received their second dose of injury news Wednesday, announcing that starting center Emeka Okafor will be out indefinitely with a herniated disk in his neck. The news arrived the same day the team revealed that reserve forward Chris Singleton will miss six to eight weeks with a broken left foot. Okafor's loss is especially costly for the Wizards, who emerged as one of the league's best defensive teams last season. He averaged 9.7 points and a team-best 8.8 rebounds in 79 games last season and was hailed for bringing a professional, workmanlike attitude to the Wizards.
—Michael Lee, The Washington Post
Varsity boys basketball: John Carroll senior guard Jordan Martin has committed to play at The College of Saint Rose, a Division II school in Albany, N.Y. The 6-foot Martin, who can play either guard spot, was named John Carroll's top defender last season in his first year as a starter. He was second on the team in steals and charges taken. Saint Rose competes in the Northeast-10 Conference and finished 15-14 in the 2012-13 season.
Varsity football: North Carroll's Matt Martello was named the Ravens' High School Coach of the Week after leading the Panthers to a 2-0 start — just one win shy of the team's total over the previous two years. Last Thursday, the Panthers scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to rally past Williamsport, 40-38, in a Monocacy Valley Athletic League nonconference game.
Golf: Mike Occi of Hobbit's Glen Golf Club saved par on the 18th green, then birdied the second extra hole to defeat Larry Martone, a member of the host club, Kenwood Golf & Country Club, for the championship in the Washington Metropolitan Senior Amateur on Tuesday. The two had tied at 1-under-par 139 in the regulation 36 holes. Joe Lefavor of U.S. Naval Academy GC was third with 141.