12/03/2015 2:54PM

De Francis Dash upgraded to a Grade 3 stakes for 2016


The Frank De Francis Memorial Dash, which was once of Maryland’s most prestigious stakes races, has been upgraded to a Grade 3 stakes, the owners of Laurel Park announced Thursday.

The $350,000 race was awarded Grade 3 status by the American Graded Stakes Committee in its annual review of U.S. stakes races, according to The Stronach Group, which owns Laurel. The stakes committee, which is administered by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, has not yet announced the results of its full review.

The six-furlong De Francis Dash, named for the late owner of Laurel and Pimlico, was first run in 1990 and in its early years often drew the best sprinters in the country. But its cachet began to wane in the 2000s as its purse failed to keep pace with other top sprinting stakes. The race was canceled in both 2008 and 2010 because of financial troubles at Laurel and its sister track. The graded stakes committee typically removes the grade from a stakes race when it is not run on a consistent basis.

The Dash was a Grade 1 race from 1999-2009. This year, Gentleman’s Bet was declared the winner after Trouble Kid was disqualified from first.