06/30/2009 11:00PM

De Francis Dash to return in October


The Grade 1 Frank J. De Francis Dash has been restored to the fall race meet at Laurel Park in Maryland after a one-year hiatus, the owner of the track announced on Wednesday.

The six-furlong, $300,000 De Francis Dash will be run this year on Oct. 24, two weeks before the 2009 Breeders' Cup event at Santa Anita Park, the Maryland Jockey Club announced. The race was suspended last year because of a purse shortfall.

The Dash is one of three Grade 1 races in Maryland, along with the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, and the Pimlico Special. Like the Dash last year, however, the Special has been canceled on multiple occasions because of the flagging health of the Maryland racing circuit.

The Dash is the only graded stakes left on this year's Maryland racing schedule. Laurel Park will return to racing on Aug. 1 after a 10-week break for an 11-day meet stretched over three weeks, with racing conducted on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through Aug. 23.

Racing will shift to Timonium from Aug. 28 to Sept. 7 for a seven-day meet, and then racing will return to Laurel Park for its Sept. 12-Dec. 19 meet. During the fall meet, racing will be conducted on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule for a total of 57 live racing days, according to the jockey club.

The Maryland Million, a 12-stakes race card for Maryland-sired horses topped by the $200,000 Maryland Million Classic, is scheduled for Sept. 26. The event typically attracts the second-largest crowd on the Maryland racing calendar, behind the Preakness Stakes card. Eight other stakes are scheduled for the fall meet, including the Dash, though none has a purse greater than $50,000.

The dates and stakes schedule are expected to be approved by the Maryland Racing Commission at its July 21 meeting, according to the jockey club.