The $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (grade I) is the headline event of Saturday's Fall Festival of Racing, but the day also features five additional stakes races on the 10-race program.
Maryland Million Nursery winner Polish Rifle (2-1 morning line choice) heads a field of eight in the $100,000 grade III 1 1/16-mile Laurel Futurity. The Polish Numbers colt is a Tony Dutrow trainee based at Laurel Park. Mario Pino has the mount.
"He sure looks like he's in a class of his own around here," said Dutrow. "He'll try two turns for the first time and I don't have any reason to believe he will not get the distance. But I need to see him go around two turns before I would show a great deal of confidence down the road."
Trainer Nick Zito has entered Churchill Downs-based runner Ghost Mountain, a four-length, wire-to-wire winner at Keeneland in his most recent outing. Edgar Prado will be in the irons.
Ten fillies and mares, including the Michael Gill-owned entry of City Fire and Nault, have been named to start in the $100,000, nine furlong grade III Anne Arundel Stakes. The entry stands as a lukewarm 5-2 morning line favorite and jockey Abel Castellano has been named to both. City Fire has won five times this year, including two stakes at Monmouth and the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico.
A field of nine will race in the historic $100,000 Selima Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/6-miles. The Michael Gill owned tandem of Forest Music and Absolute Rocks is listed as the 8-5 morning line choice. Forest Music made her debut at Laurel Park on Oct. 8 and stopped the timer in 1:08.23. The filly was then ambitiously placed in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly 17 days later where she charged to the lead but then stopped to last.
One of the entries most accomplished rivals is Richetta, who has won all three of her starts at Laurel Park including the Maryland Million Juvenile Fillies and the Heavenly Cause Stakes. Robin Graham trains the Polish Numbers lassie and Rick Wilson will do the riding.
Another stakes winner in the field is the undefeated Spectacular Moon (4 for 4), winner of the Grade II Astarita Stakes at Belmont Park last month. Ramon Dominguez, who had been riding Richetta, has opted to ride the John Alecci trainee.
William Beatson's Wilzada will be tested by 11 other fillies and mares in the seven-furlong $75,000 Stefanita Stakes. The 3-2 morning line choice has won nine of 13 starts for trainer Tony Dutrow. The Meadowlake filly comes into the Stefanita off a three-length score at Delaware Park, her second start back after missing most of the year with a leg injury suffered in February. Mario Pino will ride.
Grade I winner Toccet has been established as the 3-2 early favorite against nine others in the $50,000 Hail Emperor Stakes for 3-year-olds and up. John Scanlan has tabbed Jorge Chavez to ride the Awesome Again colt in this 1 1/16 mile mile test.