11/19/2016 5:28PM

Ivan Fallunovalot makes long trip pay off in De Francis

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Ivan Fallunovalot has won six of his seven starts since August 2015.

LAUREL, Md. - Ivan Fallunovalot came a long way to compete in the $250,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, and the trip paid off after he dogged X Y Jet into submission and pulled away to win the six-furlong race by 4 1/2 lengths.

Ivan Fallunovalot is based at Remington Park with trainer Tom Howard. He vanned from Oklahoma to Maryland for the Grade 3 De Francis, and will soon make the return trip.

X Y Jet looked like the lone speed in the six-horse De Francis, but jockey Calvin Borel never let him get too far in front. He pressed him through fractions of 22.34 and 45.79 and took the lead entering the stretch.

"We backed it up and went slow," Borel said. "The best horse to finish was going to win. I'd just like to thank Mr. Tom for giving me the chance to ride him."

Howard said he told Borel to be patient during the race, but not to let him get too far in front.

"If nobody was going to help, we had to do it ourselves," Howard said.

Ivan Fallunovalot paid $8.20 to win after X Y Jet was hammered down to 1-5 favoritism; he was timed in 1:10.07. Weather conditions at Laurel changed in the hour leading up to the race: a gusty headwind was blowing up the stretch.

Ivan Fallunovalot is now perfect in four starts this year and has won six of his last seven starts back to August 2015. Howard claimed Ivan Fallunovalot for $25,000 in early 2014. He has since earned $741,000 and is the best horse Howard has ever trained.

Howard said he claimed Ivan Fallunovalot on the recommendation of his owner, Lewis Mathews Jr.

"I didn't want to go to Chicago anymore and I told my owners I wanted to just go from Oaklawn, to Lone Star, to Remington, and I lost some owners over it." Howard said. "I hadn't heard from Lewis, and I thought I'd lost him too, and then he called and said, 'There's a horse I want you to take a look at tomorrow, and if you like him, take him.' It turned out to be Ivan."

Ivan Fallunovalot has chronic quarter cracks, according to Howard, which have limited his starts this year. Plans call for Ivan Fallunovalot to head to Oaklawn Park after he returns to Remington and point for the King Cotton Stakes, a race he has won the past two years.

This is the first year the De Francis has been graded since 2009. A field of six went postward after Stallwalkin' Dude, Weekend Hideaway, and Life in Shambles were declared from the race.

Safely Kept: Tale for Ruby breaks through
Tale for Ruby came into the $100,000 Safely Kept Stakes off a pair of second-place finishes in first-level allowance company but proved clearly best in the 13-horse field of 3-year-old fillies despite being bumped at the start.

A daughter of Tale of Ekati trained by Barclay Tagg, Tale for Ruby was away slowly in the seven-furlong race under jockey Edgar Prado. She steadily advanced on the backstretch, seized the lead three wide entering the stretch, and then pulled away to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

Tale for Ruby paid $6.80 as the favorite. She was timed in 1:23.51. She is now 2 for 6 in her career.

Takrees finished well to be second-best. It was three lengths back to Outsider Art in third.

Kelsocait and Malibu Tracy stumbled at the start from posts 1 and 2, respectively. Malibu Tracy, the 5-2 second betting choice, finished ninth.

Geisha: Rockin Jojo strikes again
Rockin Jojo, who scored a 31-1 upset in the Maryland Million Distaff in her last start, came right back to take the $75,000 Geisha, the last of seven stakes on the Saturday Laurel Park card.

Rockin Jojo paid $19.40 in the Geisha, a one-mile race for Maryland-bred fillies and mares. She rallied extremely wide into the stretch and was up to defeat Candida H. by a head. Candida H. also was fanned wide on the far turn and into the stretch.

Wowwhatabrat finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Candida H.

Rockin Jojo, a 4-year-old daughter of Street Magician, is trained by Parx-based Lupe Preciado. She has now won five of 18 career starts and is 2 for 4 since joining Preciado's barn.

Rockin Jojo was timed in $139.42.