Laurel Will Try 'Dash' in Post-Breeders' Cup Spot

For the first time since its inception in Maryland in 1990, the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash will be run this year in the fall instead of the summer.

The $300,000 race, one of only two grade I six-furlong events in the country, will headline a "fall festival day" of a half-dozen stakes Nov. 17 at Laurel Park, said Lou Raffetto Jr., chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club.

The date is three weeks after the Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park. Raffetto said he hopes to attract horses from the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"There's a huge window of opportunity after the Breeders' Cup to get some top horses," Raffetto said. "It would be great if we could carve out a niche for this race in the fall."

The race was created to honor the memory of Frank J. De Francis, president and chairman of the board of Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park when he died in August of 1989. The De Francis Dash was first run in August of 1990 at Pimlico. Ever since, it has been been run in July at Laurel.

Though the De Francis Dash has been won by three champion sprinters (Housebuster in 1991, Cherokee Run in 1994, and Smoke Glacken in 1997), it has occasionally been plagued by short fields. Last year, Richter Scale had to beat only three rivals to earn the top prize.