11/18/2016 7:20PM

Defections leave X Y Jet, Ivan Fallunovalot as top De Francis choices

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Barbara D. Livingston
X Y Jet will be making his second start since having a knee chip removed following his neck defeat in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai in March.

The defections of Stallwalkin' Dude and Weekend Hideaway from the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park on Saturday leaves X Y Jet and Ivan Fallunovalot as the first and second betting choices in a seven-horse field.

On Friday, trainer David Jacobson said Stallwakin' Dude would not be making the journey to Maryland. He is expected to instead run Thanksgiving Day in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight at Aqueduct. Stallwalkin' Dude was the 5-2 second choice to X Y Jet on the De Francis morning line.

Weekend Hideaway on Friday was cross-entered in the $200,000 Fabulous Strike at Penn National and is likely to run in that Wednesday evening race, according to trainer Phil Serpe. Weekend Hideaway has been installed as the 3-1 morning-line choice in the Fabulous Strike.

Serpe did, however, leave the door open for a possible start in the Fall Highweight, saying he and owner Mike Hoffman "would look at that race, as they always prefer to run in New York when possible."

The De Francis, Fabulous Strike, and Fall Highweight are all six-furlong races, and it is quite clear that fans, horsemen, and the racetracks themselves would be better served if they were run as a series instead of being jammed into a six-day period.

The De Francis Dash is graded this year for the first time since 2009, when it was run as a Grade 1. The race was not held in 2008 or 2010 and consequently lost its status.

It was brought back in 2011 with a $150,000 purse, then was worth $350,000 from 2012 to 2015. After the race was deemed a Grade 3 this year, the purse was rolled back to $250,000.

Still, the nine-horse De Francis has drawn X Y Jet from Florida, and Ivan Fallunovalot from Oklahoma.

X Y Jet is the quickest horse in the De Francis and will be winging on the front end. He also is now a solid favorite.

A rising star early in the year for trainer Jorge Navarro, he will be making his second start since having a knee chip removed following his neck defeat in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai in March.

His return to the races in the Grade 1 Vosburgh on Oct. 1 did not go as planned, and X Y Jet is now in the position of having to re-prove himself. Navarro was looking for an easy race to set up X Y Jet for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, but after he skipped the Hall of Fame Stakes at Parx Racing to give X Y Jet a final workout, and an overnight race at Monmouth Park didn’t fill, Navarro was forced to run X Y Jet in the more difficult Vosburgh over a muddy track.

X Y Jet disposed of longshot Green Gratto after a quarter-mile in 21.59 seconds and opened up. But after getting a half-mile in a too-fast 44.12, he tired to finish fifth, beaten 5 1/2 lengths.

“The important thing is he came back good and he’s training really good,” Navarro said.

Ivan Fallunovalot has been a miracle claim for trainer Tom Howard, who makes an annual circuit among Oaklawn Park, Lone Star Park, and Remington Park. Taken for $25,000 at Oaklawn in 2014, the 6-year-old Ivan Fallunovalot has since won 10 races and slightly less than $600,000.

He has won five of his six races since August 2015, with his only loss during that span coming in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The De Francis will be Ivan Fallunovalot’s first race east of Keeneland.

◗ The supporting races at Laurel have drawn large, competitive fields, and include six stakes. The entire program will be streamed live on DRF.com.

:: DE FRANCIS DASH: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live

De Francis Dash, Race 9

Key Contenders

X Y Jet, by Kantharos
Last 3 Beyers: 92-105-105

◗ Navarro has repeatedly said how pleased he is with the way X Y Jet has trained since returning to his stable in mid-summer. While many people will be skeptical after the Vosburgh, he comes into the De Francis off two bullet works at Gulfstream Park West and looks ready to rebound.

Ivan Fallunovalot, by Valid Expectations
Last 3 Beyers: 94-94-99

◗ While his races the past year have been limited by quarter cracks, he has made the best of his opportunities, finishing first or second in nine of his last 10 starts dating back to January 2015.

“He acts like an old pony horse around the barn, but he knows when it’s race time,” Howard said.

◗ He has good speed and should take up a stalking position just off X Y Jet.

Life in Shambles, by Broken Vow 
Last 3 Beyers: 98-71-96

◗ Claimed by trainer Steve Asmussen for $40,000 out of a winning effort at Belmont Park in June, he has since won two second-level optional-claiming races and is an improving horse.
◗ In his last race, a third-level optional-claimer, he was steadied going into the far turn and lost position, then had to await horses from the five-sixteenths pole to the top of the stretch. He finished well once clear, but could not catch front-running winner Angry Moon.