Laurel Park's Fall Festival of Racing, featuring the 27th running of the Xpressbet Frank De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) and six other stakes races, handled $5.073 million Saturday, an increase of 35.5 percent over last year's program.
Total handle in 2017 on the corresponding day was $3.743 million. Handle in 2016 was $4.513 million and in 2015 $3.775 million.
Woodford Racing's Switzerland was an impressive winner of the De Francis. Switzerland's victory was the third stakes win of the day for jockey Feargal Lynch.
This year's De Francis marked the fifth and final race in the 3-year-old and up dirt sprint division of the revived Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series, an assortment of 25 races at tracks in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which kicked off May 18 and 19 at Pimlico. The original MATCH Series debuted in 1997 and ran for five years.
“The Fall Festival of Racing was a great way to start what will be a memorable month of Thoroughbred racing in Maryland and Laurel Park,” said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “There was a lot of great energy and excitement today, and we want to thank everyone who came out to watch and wager on this great program. We also think the MATCH Series has been a great edition to the Mid-Atlantic calendar.
“We witnessed some incredible performances by our equine and human athletes, and we expect that will carry over to our program Saturday featuring the Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3) and the inaugural running of the Bald Eagle Derby. And this year's Maryland Million will be very special with the edition of the great entertainment The Stronach Group has planned for Clubhouse Festival.”
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