11/14/2015 6:21PM

Stewards elevate Gentlemen's Bet to victory in De Francis Memorial Dash

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Gentlemen's Bet (left) finishes three-quarters of a length behind Trouble Kid, but wins the Frank De Francis Memorial Dash on a disqualification.

LAUREL, Md. - Winners are always happy and losers are generally sad, but emotions were higher than usual after the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park on Saturday when Trouble Kid was disqualified from first to second and Gentlemen's Bet was awarded the win.

Trouble Kid has been a tremendous claim by Ramon Preciado. He took him for $15,000 out of a maiden-claiming race at Parx in July and had won four consecutive races - including the Grade 3 Gallant Bob - and $300,000 with him since.

When his horse was taken down after a long inquiry, Preciado and rider Joshua Navarro were clearly not happy.

Ron Moquett, the trainer of Gentlemen's Bet, who watched the race from Churchill Downs, although gracious about the disqualification when reached via telephone, was thrilled with the win. In some ways, the De Francis was Gentlemen's Bet's Breeders' Cup. Moquett had wanted to run him in the BC Sprint but he was excluded from the oversubscribed field.

At the start of the De Francis, four horses lined up on the lead. From the inside out it was Stallwalkin' Dude, Palace, Gentlemen's Bet, and Trouble Kid, who broke from the outside gate in the nine-horse field. Navarro, aboard Trouble Kid, steadily angled inward and things tightened up. Gentlemen's Bet bumped with Palace, who then made contact with Stallwalkin' Dude.

Gentlemen's Bet and Daniel Centeno took back out of the situation, while Cornelio Veasquez steadied Palace and held his position. Trouble Kid came away with the lead and Gentlemen's bet chased him home, finishing second by three-quarters of a length.

It was 1 3/4 lengths back to Palace in third, and another three-quarters of a length to fourth-place Stallwalkin' Dude.

The stewards lit the inquiry sign and Centeno lodged a claim of foul against Trouble Kid and Navarro. After a lengthy inquiry, Trouble Kid was taken down and placed second. It appeared to be the right call.

"I originally thought we might go down," Moquett said. "But then again I'm the horse's trainer and I'm so close to him I can't look at it unbiased. I did think he deserved to be put up."

Navarro saw it differently.

"I knew it was tight, but I was clear," he said. "It's a big race. He could have gotten out of there earlier."

Gentlemen's Bet paid $12 as the fourth choice in the eight-horse field. He was timed in 1:09.34.

Stallwalkin' Dude reared in the gate before the start and unseated jockey Trevor McCarthy. He was taken out of the gate and then reloaded.

The path to Gentlemen's Bet's De Francis victory began over two years ago. Gentlemen's Bet grabbed a quarter when finishing third in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Sprint and didn't race again for 15 months.

"It took a long time to grow that foot back," Moquett said.

Gentlemen's Bet's comeback started off promisingly. In his second start back, he won the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn Park in March.

But things did not go as well in the Churchill Downs Stakes on Derby Day or in the Aristedes on May 30 at Churchill when Gentlemen's Bet backed up to finish fourth and fifth.

Moquett scoped him after each of those races but the results came back clean.

"We finally worked him with a dynamic scope and it showed that a tie-back procedure we had done on him was failing when he was stressed," Moquett said.

Following another tie-back, Moquett tried to get Gentlemen's Bet to this year's Breeders' Cup by prepping him in the Phoenix Stakes a Keeneland. He finished fifth but Moquett was pleased with the race.

"It was strictly a prep and he raced on a dead rail and made a good move," he said.

Unfortunately, the Breeders Cup Sprint overfilled and Gentlemen's bet didn't get in.

"He's such a good horse," Moquett said.

Moquett winters at Oaklawn Park. He declined to speculate on a next race.

"As you know, horse trainers can be superstitious," he said. "I'll just bring him back and rehab him from this race and get him happy."

Safely Kept: Hot City Girl goes wire to wire

Hot City Girl went wire to wire to win the $100,000 Safely Kept Stakes by 8 1/4 lengths under Cornelio Velasquez. The victory was her third in a row.

Velasquez also won the City of Laurel Stakes earlier in the day on El Kabeir

Hot City Girl came off a summer break to win the Grade 3, $350,000 Charles Town Oaks by 2 1/2 lengths on Sept. 19. She returned to win a second-level optional claimer at Belmont Park by 4 1/4 on Oct. 29. She was much the best in the seven-furlong Safely Kept.

Trainer Linda Rice said after the race, Hot City Girl would be freshened and considered for the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel in February.

Stroke Play was up in the final strides to nip Paulassilverlining by a nose for second.

Hot City Girl paid $3 to win. She completed seven furlongs in 1:22.70.

Lewis Stakes: Awesome Speed game in stretch

Awesome Speed turned in a determined effort to win the $100,000 James F. Lewis III Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds.

Awesome Speed pressed the early pace outside 4-5 favorite King Kranz, took a short lead on the far turn, and then dug in during the stretch run to score by three-quarters of a length. It was a neck back to second choice Never Gone South in third.

Awesome Speed, owned by Richard Santulli and trained by Alan Goldberg, paid $15.80 to win in the nine-horse field. He was ridden by Horacio Karamanos, who also won the Richard Small earlier on the card on Page McKenney. Awesome Speed was timed in 1:09.67 after fractions of 22.41 seconds, 45.79, and 57.47.

Awesome Speed had won his maiden at Laurel in his prior start by 3 3/4 lengths.

King Kranz, still a maiden, came into the Lewis off a runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont Park.