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Lightening Larry Electric in De Francis Dash

Lea Farms’ Lightening Larry  stalked Wondrwherecraigis  from the gate and came with a steady run through the stretch to reel in his fellow grade 3 winner and capture the $148,500 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash July 29 by a half-length at Laurel Park.

With Daniel Centeno aboard for the first time, Lightening Larry ($3.40) extended his win streak to three races, all in stakes, following the May 29 Mr. Prospector at Monmouth Park and July 1 Alapocas Run at Delaware Park. The 4-year-old Uncaptured  colt was victorious in his only other trip to Maryland for the 2022 Chick Lang Stakes (G3) at Pimlico Race Course, the first graded triumph for the horse and trainer Jorge Delgado.

“I know the track was fast today and speed was holding a lot, and I know (Wondrwherecraigis) is strong so I moved a little early to try to catch him and he fired big to the wire,” Centeno said.

Breaking from the rail due to the early scratch of Ladneedsahandler , jockey Sheldon Russell settled Wondrwherecraigis on the lead where they went in :21.84 for the opening quarter-mile chased by multiple stakes winner Sir Wellington  to his outside while Centeno had Lightening Larry in the clear three-wide in third. Wondrwherecraigis was still in command rounding the far turn after going a half in :44.65, when Centeno began to work on Lightening Larry.

A duel to the wire was set up as the two favorites straightened for home with Wondrwherecraigis clinging to a tenuous lead and Lightening Larry bearing down on the outside. Wondrwherecraigis dug in but could not hold off Lightening Larry’s late surge that saw him cross the wire in 1:09.29—the fastest De Francis since Killybegs Captain   (1:08.10) in 2019.

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Holy Synchronicity was third, seven lengths behind Wondrwherecraigis, followed by Sir Wellington and Threes Over Deuces . Multiple graded-stakes placed Synthesis  was a late scratch.

This marked the third consecutive year Wondrwherecraigis was second in the De Francis. He crossed the wire first, three-quarters of a length ahead of Jalen Journey , but was disqualified to second for interference in 2021 when the race was a grade 3. He was beaten last year by Beren  in his first start since returning from Dubai.

Now 6, Wondrwherecraigis won the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) one start after his De Francis disqualification and opened 2023 with an optional claiming allowance victory April 13 at Laurel Park in his first race of the year. Most recently he ran sixth in the Maryland Sprint (G3) May 20 at Pimlico Race Course.

The 32nd renewal of the six-furlong De Francis, a grade 1 race from 1999-2009 before diminishing in quality and declining in graded status to eventually become a listed race, is named for the late president and chairman of both Laurel and Pimlico. It anchored five stakes worth $500,000 in purses on Saturday’s 10-race program.

In earlier stakes, Be Better  rallied from last in the $100,000 Deputed Testamony Stakes for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles; Beguine  was a popular winner of the $100,000 Alma North Stakes for fillies and mares 3 and older at 6 ½ furlongs; Super Accelerate  was resolute in taking $75,000 Star de Naskra Stakes for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds going seven-eighths; and Talk to the Judge  wired the $75,000 Miss Disco for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-old fillies, also sprinting seven furlongs.       

Video: Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash S. (BT)


This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.

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