Updated on 10/27/2012 5:48PM

Laurel: Action Andy noses out Il Villano in Frank De Francis Memorial Dash

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Action Andy, under Horatio Karamanos, hits the wire almost simulaneously with Il Villano in the Frank De Francis Memorial Dash.

The Maryland-bred Action Andy displayed a tremendous will to win in Saturday’s Frank De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park.

Racing alongside the 3-year-old  Il Villano down the middle of the track in the stretch, Action Andy, under jockey Horatio Karamanos, reached the wire first by the tip of his nose to earn his fourth stakes victory this season.

The $350,000 De Francis Dash was the last and richest of six stakes on a Fall Festival of Racing program. The other five stakes were all $150,000 races on turf.

A 5-year-old gelding trained by Carlos Garcia for owner Robert Gerczak, Action Andy ($22) ran the six furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.61.

“I was a little worried at the sixteenth pole, but I know when he kicks he keeps coming,” said Garcia. “He trained better than he ever has coming into this race and Horacio rode him to perfection. That was an extremely nice horse he beat today. They both wanted to win; you could see that. But I guess he wanted it more. This is the biggest win of my career."

The race featured a ton of speed and five of the 11 runners in the field were out battling each other early. After early contested fractions of 22.15 and 45.46 seconds, three horses were across the track turning for home – Bet the Power, the 3-year-old Alsvid, and The Hunk – chased by Action Andy and Il Villano. The closers separated themselves from the tiring pacesetters and Il Villano, stepping up to challenge older horses for the first time, appeared to get slightly in front before Action Andy battled back and refused to lose. Immortal Eyes, a 29-1 outsider who stumbled at the start, rallied to get third, 1 1/2 lengths behind the top pair.

“My horse really responded when I used the whip,” Karamanos said. “I’m so happy for Carlos. My horse has improved a lot. He is a much better horse since moving back to dirt and was going with more distance. Carlos made a  good decision to switch back to dirt and less distance.”

Action Andy, a son of Gators N Bears, was coming off a win in the Maryland Million Sprint three weeks ago. He also won the one-mile Da Hoss on turf at Colonial Downs and a pair of sprint stakes early in the year at Tampa Bay Downs. Overall, he is 10 for 29 with earnings of $524,430.