A Dashing Return in Two Parts

Captain Candyman & Vineyard Haven duke it out in the stretch of the King’s Bishop (Adam Mooshian)

This break in Breeders’ Cup content is brought to you by the De Francis Dash and Vineyard Haven!

The De Francis Dash is back this Saturday at Laurel after a brief hiatus.

The 57-day schedule is highlighted by the return of Laurel’s marquee race, the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G1), which was not carded in 2008 due to a purse account shortfall, on October 24.

Many were entered, including Fabulous Strike and Kodiak Kowboy but the recently returned Vineyard Haven is the only marquee name for this years event.

You may remember his stunning return in the King’s Bishop a couple of months ago at Saratoga where he ran huge coming off an 8 month layoff but was rightfully DQ’d for pilot error.


He’s been working great and had a nice blow out today so it’s probably safe to assume that he’ll be sharp on Saturday. But let’s not forget the second choice in the morning line odds, Fleet Valid, son of 1993 De Francis Dash winner Montbrook.

In fact, Vineyard Haven has some family ties to the DeFrancis dash as his half brother On the Vineyard is by the 1996 De Francis Dash winner Lite the Fuse. Who are the previous De Francis Dash winners? Several have turned out to be champion sprinters (from Brisnet):

Introduced in 1990, the De Francis Dash is one of the elite six-furlong sprints in the country with four of the 18 winners — Housebuster (1991), Cherokee Run (1994), Smoke Glacken (1997) and Thor’s Echo (2006) — earning Eclipse Award honors for champion sprinter.

Update: As it turns out current entrant Peace Chant also has ties to the De Francis Dash! This was brought to my attention this morning in the comments by Val of Foolish Pleasure and Fillies First (thank you!):

Don’t forget that the mare Safely Kept, who was left in the gate and came from dead last to finish third in that 1991 De Francis (and had won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 1990) is the dam of Peace Chant who drew post 6. He wasn’t bad for six furlongs in the G1 Forego last out.

Vineyard Haven won’t become this year’s champion sprinter but that doesn’t mean a strong win wouldn’t be impressive and probably a giant relief for whoever made all those Godophin purchases that are finally paying off! And perhaps this is a prep for the Cigar Mile at the Big A.

While I couldn’t dig up Thor’s Echo’s rendition, here are the rest of the champions mentioned above + Montbrook & Lite the Fuse’s (i.e., everything over at YouTube).

1997 – Smoke Glacken:


1996 – Lite the Fuse:


1994 – Cherokee Run:


1993 – Montbrook:


1991 – HousebusterWARNING: there is a breakdown in the stretch.


It should also be noted that GbG and Brooklyn Backstretch fav Saratoga Russell is entered as well. Good luck to all!