Talent Search (right) has a golden opportunity for a graded stakes victory in the De Francis.

Talent Search (right) has a golden opportunity for a graded stakes victory in the De Francis.

Eliot Schechter

Talent Search-ing For Grade I Win

Talent Search has a golden opportunity for a graded stakes victory in the De Francis.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred Talent Search has put together a banner year, placing in seven of eight starts, while winning three times.

The next step in the career of the speedy Catienuscolt is a graded stakes victory. He has a golden opportunity Nov. 24 when he takes on seven challengers in the $250,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (gr. I) at six furlongs on the Laurel Park main track.

Though having never won at this level, the 4-year-old Talent Search has proved he belongs based on three previous graded-stakes efforts, all on the board. The last start was a third-place finish in the Oct. 27 TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I), a race in which Talent Search was very much in contention in the stretch before watching Midnight Lute accelerate past for the win.

Prior to that, Talent Search, out of Dixieland Band mare Mrs. K., was second in the Sept. 30 Vosburgh Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park for trainer Mark Shuman. He also placed second in the Emirates Airline Maryland Sprint Handicap (gr. III) in May at Pimlico Race Course, finishing three-quarters of a length in back of Diabolical after leading into the stretch.

Since he prefers to be on the front end, Talent Search has the advantage of the inside post. Regular rider Ryan Fogelsonger gets the mount. He is listed as the 2-1 second choice in the morning line, just behind 9-5 favorites Benny the Bull and Holly Time, who are coupled by Rick Dutrow.

"He didn’t relish the sloppy going at the Breeders’ Cup but he handled it,” Shuman said. “I’m happy where we are. Hopefully he runs as good as he’s training. He’s a classy horse. He’s a puppy dog to be around. As fast as he is you’d think he’d be high strung but he’s really quiet, laid back. He acts like a stable pony. When it comes to the races he’s just honest.

"In the Vosburgh, he ran as hard as he could and didn’t quit beating some good horses. He keeps impressing us.”

In 13 career starts Talent Search has won six times and been off the board just twice. He has raced on the Laurel dirt five times, winning twice. His most recent win came at Monmouth Park, when he scored by 6 ¼ lengths in the Teddy Drone Stakes.

Carrying top weights in the De Francis Dash are Saint Anddan, High Finance, and Will He Shine, a trio of sprinters who also have had success on the front end. Each will carry 122 pounds.

Trained by Tony Dutrow, Saint Anddan has won three times year, the last one coming May 5 in the Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) at seven furlongs. Since then, the 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy who was bought for $1.85 million as a yearling has started twice without a victory. Making his first start in Maryland, Saint Anddan will leave from post four with Ramon Dominguez aboard.

West Point Thoroughbreds High Finance made his last start Oct. 26 in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, coming in last on a sloppy track. Prior to that, the 4-year-old Talk Is Money colt tired in the stretch to finish eighth in the Sept. 1 Forego (gr. I) at Saratoga. In five graded stakes starts this year, High Finance has placed twice, including a victory in the July 4 Tom Fool Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont.

Will He Shine has started six times in graded stakes competition this year alone. Only one of those efforts resulted in a victory, however. It came June 9 in the True North Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont. The 5-year-old Silver Deputyhorse has been winless in three starts since then, including an eighth-place finish in the Vosburgh.

Steve Klesaris and Puglisi Stables’ Miraculous Miss should also be a factor. The 4-year-old filly was second to Maryfield in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Monmouth Park. Jockey Jeremy Rose will likely have her coming from off the pace.

$250,000 Frank J. De Francis Dash (gr. I, Race 10, 4:24 p.m.), Three-Year-Olds & Up, Six Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Talent Search, 118, Ryan Fogelsonger
2. Hi Time Scott, 118, Joseph Rocco, Jr.
3. Will He Shine, 122, Stewart Elliott
4. Saint Anddan, 122, Ramon A. Dominguez
5. Holly Time, 118, Eddie Castro
6. Miraculous Miss, 115, Jeremy Rose
7. High Finance, 122, A. R. Napravnik
8. Benny the Bull, 118, Edgar S. Prado