10/21/2012 1:04PM

Laurel: Pacific Ocean among top sprinters pointing to Frank De Francis Memorial Dash

Barbara D. Livingston
Pacific Ocean, shown winning the James Marvin at Saratoga in July, is being pointed to Saturday's $350,000 Frank De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel.

Pacific Ocean, a Grade 3 stakes winner each of the past two seasons, is among the sprinters considered as probable starters for Saturday’s $350,000 Frank De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park.

The De Francis Dash is the feature on a Fall Festival of Racing Card that includes five $150,000 stakes scheduled for turf.

In addition to Pacific Ocean, a New York-based gelding who won the Grade 3 James Marvin at Saratoga and last fall’s Grade 3 Vernon Underwood at Hollywood Park, likely starters for the De Francis Dash include Action Andy, Alsvid, Il Villano, Royal Currier, Sloane Ranger, and The Hunk.

Five others are possible. That group is headed by Guam Typhoon, whose eight-race winning streak includes back-to-back wins in $100,000 stakes in his two most recent starts. The others are Bet the Power, Crossbow, Divine Music, and Zero Rate Policy.

Among those that Maryland Jockey Club stakes coordinator Coley Blind lists as likely starters, Action Andy comes off a win in the Maryland Million Sprint Handicap; the 3-year-old Alsvid captured the $200,000 Remington Park Sprint Cup on Sept. 30; the 3-year-old Il Villano was second in the Grade 2 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park and runner-up in the $400,000 Red Legend at Charles Town; Royal Currier’s 4-for-8 record in 2012 includes a pair of small stakes at Monmouth Park and Belmont Park; and Sloane Ranger won the $150,000 Donald Le Vine Memorial at Parx and was third in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup.

Ten of the 28 nominees to the De Francis Dash are cross-nominated in the Laurel Dash, a six-furlong grass sprint. That group includes defending Laurel Dash champion Ben’s Cat, one of the top turf sprinters in the country. Although Ben’s Cat is 7 for 11 on dirt, he is expected to go in the Laurel Dash when entries are taken Wednesday.

The nomination list has 46 horses for the Laurel Dash, 37 2-year-olds for the Laurel Futurity, 38 2-year-old fillies for the Selima, 50 fillies and mares for the Lady Baltimore, and 39 horses for the 1 1/2-mile Laurel Turf Cup.

 “Overall, I am pleased with the number of nominations,” Blind said. “Now we have to see who will actually enter on Wednesday. We could have full fields in the baby races,” referring to the Laurel Futurity and Selima, “and I am hopeful that we will get 10 to 12 in the other three turf races.”

Post time for the 11-race card will be 12:35 p.m. Eastern, 35 minutes earlier than usual.