Friday breeze for De Francis bound Wondrwherecraigis

July 8, 2022

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LAUREL, Md. – Madaket Stables, The Elkstone Group and Michael Dubb’s Grade 3 winner Wondrwherecraigis is headed to the $150,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash July 16 following his half-mile breeze Friday morning at Laurel Park.

Wondrwherecraigis, unraced since finishing 10th in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) March 26 at Meydan Racecourse, worked four furlongs in 49 seconds over the main track with jockey Sheldon Russell aboard, ranking ninth of 29 horses.

“He’s great. He’s good to go,” trainer Brittany Russell said. “That was just what we needed to feel good about next week.”

The six-furlong De Francis for 3-year-olds and up highlights the second of three busy stakes Saturdays in July, joined on the program by the $100,000 Alma North for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting 6 ½ furlongs and a pair of $100,000 events scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the grass – the Prince George’s County for 3-year-olds and up and Big Dreyfus for fillies and mares 3 and older.

All four races are part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series.

“He still seems like the same ol’ ‘Craig,’” Russell said. “He’s a smart horse. He tells you when he’s happy. If you just listen to him he tells you what he wants and he needs and he seems good, so that’s nice to have.”

Wondrwherecraigis won the Jan. 29 Fire Plug at Laurel in his only other start this year. The 5-year-old Munnings gelding finished first by three-quarters of a length in last year’s De Francis, run in the fall as a Grade 3, but was disqualified to second behind Jalen Journey for drifting out in the stretch.

Six weeks later, Wondrwherecraigis earned the first graded-stakes victory for him and his trainer in the Bold Ruler (G3) at Belmont Park. He also won the Tale of the Cat last summer at Saratoga, and has crossed the wire first in all four career tries at Laurel with three wins.

Following the Golden Shaheen, Wondrwherecraigis was sent to trainer Bruce Jackson at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. before returning to Russell. He has had five timed works since May 25 for his return, all at Laurel. Friday was his first move since going five furlongs in 1:02.40 June 22.

“He went and spent time up at Bruce Jackson’s and they chambered him a bit to help him get over the trip and all of that,” Russell said. “Really, when he came in I took my time. You would like to say this race was in the back of our minds, but it was never us making this race. It was more of whenever the horse was ready we were going to run him. It’s worked out well that he’s gotten himself ready in good time for the Dash.”

Pocket 3’s Racing’s multiple stakes winner Threes Over Deuces, also being pointed to the De Francis, worked a half-mile in 49.60 seconds Friday at Laurel. Second in the Maryland Sprint (G3) May 21 at historic Pimlico Race Course, he is exiting a fourth in the June 17 Chocolate Town at Penn National.

Among horses also under consideration for the De Francis are Special Reserve, winner of the 2021 Maryland Sprint and Phoenix (G2) who has gone unraced since a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) last November; multiple stakes winner and Chocolate Town runner-up Beren; and 2020 Maryland Million Sprint winner Karan’s Notion.

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Notes: Jockey Xavier Perez and trainer Jerry Robb teamed up for a pair of winners Friday, Bernie’s On Fire ($4.60) in Race 4 and 2-year-old filly Majesty’s Freedom ($5.80) in Race 6 … Majesty’s Freedom swept past fellow first-time starter Lady Serenity in deep stretch and went on to take the five-furlong maiden special weight by two lengths in 59.50 seconds over a fast main track as the 9-5 favorite … Audacious Quality ($6.40), owned and trained by Amy Cortez, rallied from mid-pack to take the lead at the top of the stretch and turn back a late bid from B Determined to win Race 7, a 1 1/8-mile allowance for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up. Audacious Quality was a head behind third-place finisher B Determined when fourth by less than a length in the June 19 Find at Laurel … There will be carryovers of $28,668.72 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 4-9) and $1,396.67 in the $1 Super Hi-5 (Race 1) for Saturday’s live program that begins at 12:40 p.m. Multiple tickets with all six winners in Friday’s Rainbow 6 each returned $814.28 … Interstatedaydream, unraced since her 1 ¼-length victory in the May 20 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico, is the 9-5 program favorite over seven rivals for Saturday’s $200,000 Indiana Oaks (G3) at Horseshoe Indianapolis.

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Photo of Wondrwherecraigis by Jerry Dzierwinski/Maryland Jockey Club

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