West Virginia-bred A Huevo captured the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash-G1, the headliner on a Laurel card that included the Grade 3 Laurel Futurity and four other stakes. Tapit scored easily in the Futurity. Both runners were ridden by Ramon Dominguez, and both were trained by Michael Dickinson.
The 7-year-old A Huevo had been away from the races for four years and, after only two starts that summer, was sent out for the De Francis Dash. The Mark Hopkins colorbearer rallied from last of 10 to win in 1:08.90.
Winchill Thoroughbreds’ Tapit was making just his second start in the Laurel Futurity, and overcame a rough trip to win by 43?4 lengths. “He’s got a lot of character. He’s Dennis the Menace,” said Dickinson. “All we can say is he’s promising.”
Russian Rhythm was voted Europe’s champion 3-year-old filly. The daughter of Kingmambo and Balistroika was bred in Pennsylvania by Betty Moran’s Brushwood Stable, which sold her for $370,000 as a weanling at the Keeneland November sale. Racing for Cheveley Park Stud, she won the One Thousand Guineas-G1 at Newmarket, two additional Group 1 races, and became a millionaire her championship season.
The 1996 Preakness Stakes-G1 winner Louis Quatorze was purchased by Allen and Audrey Murray and moved to their Murmur Farm in Darlington, Md. The 11-year-old stallion previously stood at Ashford and also shuttled to Argentina. Among his stakes winners was millionaire Repent.
“Sky’s the limit for PA Nursery winner Smarty Jones” was the headline in the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association newsletter. Roy and Pat Chapman of New Hope, Pa., bred and owned the colt, a winner of Philadelphia Park’s Nursery by 15 lengths in November after taking his debut with equal ease two weeks earlier.
“Obviously loaded with speed. . . The question now looms?–?Can he go a distance?,” pondered the writer. “Or, more specifically, will he be up to the challenge of the mile and a quarter Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May?” Trained by John Servis, Smarty Jones was part of the legacy of the Chapmans’ late trainer Bob Camac, who purchased the colt’s dam as a yearling for the couple in 1993.
“Bob not only picked out the mare, but he selected Elusive Quality for the mating that produced Smarty,” said Pat Chapman. “We only wish he could be here to see this colt.”
Governor Ed Rendell, self-described as “a great supporter of horse racing,” reflected on Pennsylvania’s racing industry and what expanded gaming would do for the industry as well as the state.
“. . . I’m a fan of racing myself. I’m not a big bettor, but I love the beauty of the sport, and the animals. . . It’s a beautiful and wonderful sport, and the horse farms within this state just stun you with their beauty and natural surroundings,” said the governor.