Chublicious, the 10-1 outsider in a field of four for Saturday’s $240,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) at Laurel, wore down long-time leader Blu Moon Ace in the final yards to win by a neck as 1-2 favorite Whitmore never seriously challenged.
A wide third down the backside and entering the stretch as Blu Moon Ace zipped opening fractions of :22.65 and :45.31, Chublicious made up four lengths on that rival in the final quarter-mile and secured the win under Horacio Karamanos in a time of 1:08.75 for six furlongs on a fast track. He paid $22.40.
Whitmore, a two-time Grade 3 winner in the spring and making his first start since June, saved ground throughout but could not muster a serious rally up the inside. He finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Blu Moon Ace in third, with only second choice Awesome Banner behind him.
“It was just kind of a trappy race,” Lynch said. “They jump and everyone is watching what I’m doing. I’m just tracking the horses and the gap came on the inside and I had to take it. I wasn’t going to ride four horses wide. When we straightened up at the quarter pole the pace quickened and he didn’t.
“He likes to stalk the pace and in a four-horse race there’s not a whole lot you can do. There was no kick, no acceleration, so back to the drawing board.”
The New Jersey-bred Chublicious is owned by David Gruskos and was saddled here by Claudio Gonzalez, in whose name the horse was entered earlier this week when Maryland Jockey Club officials announced they would no longer accept entries from trainer Jorge Navarro.
Navarro was fined by Monmouth Park stewards earlier this week for “conduct detrimental to racing” after a video posted on YouTube, recorded in August, showed Navarro and owner Randal Gindi celebrating a victory using foul language with connotations of illegal activity.
However, Gonzalez was listed as trainer for Chublicious when the bay raced at Laurel twice last winter.
“I was planning on using this race with Claudio for a while. This is nothing new,” Gruskos said
This was the first graded win for Chublicious, a six-year-old gelding. A three-time stakes winner against New Jersey-breds, his previous open stakes win had come in the $95,000 Mr. Prospector at Monmouth in June 2016.
Bred by Joe-Dan Farms, he’s by Hey Chub and out of the Arch mare Sassy Broad. From the family of Grade 1 winner Carson Hollow, Chublicous’ record now stands at 23-10-4-2, $533,754.
In other stakes action Saturday contested on the firm turf:
Grade 2 veteran On Leave ($3.40) prevailed by a length over Paige as the heavy favorite in the $150,000 All Along for fillies and mares. Winner of the Sands Point (G2) last season, the gray by War Front scored her second stakes win of the season in a time of 1:40.24 for 1 1/16 miles. She’s a homebred racing for Stuart Janney III, trained by Shug McGaughey, and was ridden here by Forest Boyce.
Canessar ($8.40) made his U.S. debut a winning one in the $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over favorite Infinite Wisdom. Feargal Lynch guided the French import over 1 1/2 miles in 2:25.23. Owned by Guy Pariente and now trained by Arnaude Delacour, the four-year-old gelding has now won six of 11 starts with his only prior stakes win being the Prix la Moskowa at Chantilly on June 23.
Snowday ($5) staved off late surges from favorite Class and Cash and Rapid Day to take the $100,000 Laurel Dash by a head, completing six furlongs on the turf in 1:09.02 under Daniel Centeno. Owned by Quiet Winter Farm and trained by J. Willard Thompson, Snowday captured the $63,000 My Frenchman at Monmouth Park in July and had ran a close third in the Turf Monster (G3) at Parx in his most recent start.
Therapist ($7.40) surged late to beat 20-1 shot Stroll Smokin by a neck in the $100,000 Laurel Futurity under Centano. A homebred racing for Oak Bluff Stables and trained by Christophe Clement, the son of Freud had won at first asking against New York-bred company at Belmont Park on July 2. He completed six furlongs here in 1:09.50.
Wise Gal ($6.40) stamped herself as a horse with a promising future when cruising to a 4 3/4-length win over Madame X. in the $100,000 Selima for two-year-old fillies. A half-length winner of her debut at Laurel August 11, she was once again guided by Steve Hamilton in a time of 1:09.43 for six furlongs on the turf. She’s owned by Eric Wirth and trained by Dove Houghton.
Always Thinking ($52) registered her first turf win in five attempts with an upset score in the $100,000 Sensible Lady Turf Dash under Edgar Prado. The Godolphin homebred daughter of Street Sense won by 1 1/2 lengths and blitzed six panels in 1:07.68. It was the first stakes win for the Tom Albertrani-trained four-year-old.