Subrogate Pointed to Make Stakes Return in De Francis Dash


4-Year-Old Arrogate Colt Undefeated in Three Starts This Year
Six-Furlong De Francis Tops Four Stakes Worth $450,000 July 28
Sir London Sets Course Record in Friday Feature Race Victory

BALTIMORE – Colts Neck Stables’ Subrogate, undefeated in three starts this year, is under consideration for making his return to stakes company in the listed $150,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park.

The six-furlong De Francis for 3-year-olds and up, named for the late former president and chairman of Laurel and historic Pimlico Race Course, headlines a Sunday, July 28 program that includes four stakes worth $450,000 in purses.

Trainer Jorge Duarte Jr. said Friday that he is looking strongly at the De Francis, first run in 1990 and boasting an illustrious roster of winners including Housebuster – who beat fellow Hall of Famer Safely Kept in 1991 – and sprint champion counterparts Cherokee Run, Smoke Glacken, Thor’s Echo and Benny the Bull.

Switzerland won the 2018 De Francis and went on to become a multiple group-stakes winner in Dubai including the 2022 Golden Shaheen (G1). Millionaire Lite the Fuse – bred, owned and trained by the late Dick Dutrow – is the only two-time De Francis winner (1995-96).

“It’s a well-known race. A lot of good horses have come out of that race and gone on to do good things after that,” Duarte said. “We support Maryland racing. For the horse it’s probably the right thing to do. It’s still not set in stone. I’ve still got to talk to the boss. He’s away in Italy for the week, and the horse has only been back to the track two days. It’s a little early, but right now that’s the plan.”

Richard Santulli, whose Colts Neck operation is based in New Jersey, paid $250,000 for Subrogate as a yearling in September 2021. The now 4-year-old son of 2023 Hall of Famer Arrogate went unraced at 2 and won one of four starts at 3, finishing fourth in the Pegasus last summer at Monmouth Park as well as a subsequent optional claiming allowance before going to the sidelines.

“When I saw him at Palm Meadows in Florida as a late 2-year-old, early 3-year-old, I told the boss I thought this horse had a lot of ability. He’s an Arrogate and it seemed like he covered a lot of ground,” Duarte said. “He got a little excited and ran him last year trying to get that two-turn dirt horse as probably anybody would do.

“After the Pegasus he just wasn’t really himself. I ran him back in an allowance on Haskell day and he had a little bit of a setback. I felt like he just needed that time to develop, so we did the right thing by him and gave him all the time off,” he added. “We started him back in February and by April he was ready to go and just training really, really well.”

Subrogate returned from nearly nine months between starts to win an open allowance April 12 at Aqueduct, then was a head winner of a second-level optional claiming allowance June 8 on the undercard of the Belmont Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. Last out he romped by six lengths as the favorite in a third-level spot June 29 at Aqueduct, running 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.45.

“He went to Saratoga and really ran lights out that day. He just kept improving. This last race he went into it very well. He ran better than expected, for sure, but it wasn’t a big shocker. Just the way he’s been doing things we had a lot of confidence in him,” Duarte said. “He’s a nice horse, good pedigree, a well-picked horse by the boss, for sure.”

Duarte likes the progression of the De Francis as opposed to a race such as the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) one day earlier at Saratoga, also for 3-year-olds and up sprinting six furlongs.

“Obviously you need to bring him into stakes now. My plan, and this is from the trainer point of view, I want to maintain a gradual increase in company. It’s a good step up to go to the De Francis,” Duarte said. “The boss will probably inquire about the Vanderbilt but per the horse, it’s a long year still. With a nice horse like that you want to be peaking later in the year, November maybe. You’ve still got the chance to step up later on. That’s the plan, to run at Laurel and give him a try in stakes company.”

Duarte said Colts Neck homebred Grooms All Bizness, who earned an automatic berth in the My Pension Export July Cup (G1) July 13 in Newmarket, England for winning Pimlico’s Jim McKay Turf Sprint May 18, will continue his campaign in the U.S. The 5-year-old gelding followed up the McKay by defending his title in the Get Serious June 16 at Monmouth.

“We’re trying to see if we can get a run into him in a race like the Wolf Hill, because he likes Monmouth so much. You’ve got the Troy later on, you’ve got the prep at Ellis [Park] for Kentucky Downs in August,” he said. “Hopefully we can get to the end of the year and have enough earnings where we can maybe take a shot in the Breeders’ Cup. That would be the best of all worlds, but we’ve still got to get there.”

Sir London Sets Course Record in Friday Feature Race Victory

Amo Racing USA’s Sir London, making his first start in two months, returned with a flourish by setting a track record in winning Friday’s featured Race 7 at Laurel Park.

Ridden by Jorge Ruiz for trainer Graham Motion, Sir London ($3.80) completed one mile over a firm Bowl Game turf course in 1:33.32 to capture the second-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up by a half-length over late-running Crisper.

The previous Bowl Game record for the distance was 1:33.63 set by 9-year-old Ghost Hunter June 8, 2019. A 24-time career winner including the 2017 Arlington Handicap (G3), Ghost Hunter still holds the Laurel record for 1 1/16 miles over the All Along turf course (1:39).

Seventh, beaten 2 ¾ lengths, in a 1 1/8-mile optional claiming allowance May 2 at Churchill Downs, 5-year-old Sir London was sent off as the 4-5 favorite in a field of nine that included Storm the Court, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner and 2-year-old male champion of 2019, and fellow stakes winners Grateful Bred and Wicked Prankster.

Sir London raced in third along the inside before being tipped out leaving the far turn and closing stoutly to win for the second time in three starts following a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance March 30 at Gulfstream Park. Crisper surged late between horses to get up for second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Storm the Court. It was 1 ¾ lengths back to Grateful Bred in fourth.

Friday’s Race 8 co-feature saw Crystal Park Stables Inc.’s 5-year-old gelding Brilliant Ice ($10.60) register an easy front-running victory over late-running multiple stakes winner Armando R in a second-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up going one mile on the main track. It was the fourth career win, all over his home track, for the Annette Eubanks trainee, who crossed the wire in 1:37.38.

Notes: Jockey Forest Boyce rode two winners Friday, Magic in the Park ($4.40) in Race 3 and Self Confident ($15) in Race 5 … Phipps Stable’s Self Confident, a 4-year-old homebred daughter of Into Mischief, ran 1 1/16 miles over a firm Exceller turf course in 1:42.12 to earn her second straight victory for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey in the open allowance for fillies and mares 3 and older … There will be a carryover of $1,583.04 in the $1 Jackpot Super High Five (Race 6) for Saturday’s nine-race program that begins at 12:25 p.m. The 20-cent Rainbow 6 was solved by one lucky bettor Friday for a jackpot payoff of $6,644.98.

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