LAUREL, MD – A dream inside trip gave Woodford Racing’s Switzerland the perfect opportunity to easily wire Saturday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes at Laurel Park.
Breaking from the rail as the 9/5 favorite under Feargal Lynch, Switzerland raced along the inside of Colonel Sharp as the field headed down the backside and into the far turn through fractions of :22.83 and :45.72. Beginning to draw away from that rival as he neared the top of the stretch, Lynch set Switzerland down for the stretch drive, and he responded with a strong burst. The Steve Asmussen trainee cleared away convincingly to win by 2 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:09.11 for the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track.
“Steve said to me he doesn’t always break that sharp,” Lynch said. “He didn’t break that sharp the last time and he rushed up in there, and he didn’t want me to do that again. This is a really nice horse. He’s a serious horse. He’s so natural and so speedy. It was never in doubt, but it took him a while to switch leads, and it wasn’t until the 1/16 pole that he switched on me and he just found a little bit more. He was just doing enough in front.”
Laki chased the eventual winner along the rail early and gained enough in the stretch to take second by 1 3/4 lengths over a fast-closing Sweetontheladies, while Colonel Sharp flattened late and finished fourth. Lewisfield headed The Man for fifth, while Arthur’s Hope necked out seventh over Always Sunshine to complete the order of finish. Mr. Crow was scratched.
Switzerland’s win was his fourth in five starts, including the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Stakes at Pimlico two back, since transferring to Asmussen from the barn of Chad Brown. The 4-year-old son of Speightstown improved his record to 13-5-2-3 with earnings of $437,380.
“The horse came in good,” said Nick Dilodovico, who saddled Switzerland for Asmussen. “He was quiet and collected. Pretty professional horse. He walked off fine. It looks like the race didn’t take too much out of him.”
Switzerland returned $5.60 to win, $3.80 to place, and $3 to show. Laki brought back $8.40 to place and $5.20 to show, while Sweetontheladies paid $3.60 to show.