I'm the Tiger roars home in DeFrancis
Stronach Stable's I'M THE TIGER (Siphon [Brz]) dominated Saturday's $300,000 Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash S. (G1) at Laurel Park, going wire-to-wire to earn his first graded victory and second overall stakes win.
The five-year-old gelding got to the front early and held the spot through splits of :22 3/5, :45 2/5 and :57 before completing six furlongs on the fast track in 1:09 under jockey Jerry Bailey. Friendly Island (Crafty Friend) kept close to the eventual winner through five furlongs but was not able to hang on in the end, fading and eventually finishing fourth. The near 5-2 favorite Tiger Heart (Scatmandu) sat just off the pace and moved closer to the lead in the homestretch, but he lacked the needed rally and finished 3 1/4 lengths shy in second while Clever Electrician (Clever Trick), the second-longest shot on the board, gained ground along the rail and finished eagerly for third.
"He ran right up and took command," Bailey said. "I was just sitting on him down the backside. Going around the turn he was just pricking his ears. I gave him some slight urging at the top of the lane and he just won with something left. He was totally in command of this race at every pole."
This was I'm the Tiger's first victory in four starts under the tutelage of Bobby Frankel and the third win of the day for Bailey.
"The last time he ran I don't think I had him right," Frankel said. "This time I thought I had him in good shape. He outbroke the field and took the lead very easily. He is definitely one of the top five sprinters in the country. I will take him to California to see how he does there."
I'm the Tiger left the gate at 3-1 to return $8.40, $4.80 and $3.60 for his efforts while Tiger Heart paid $4.20 and $3 for the place. Clever Electrician came home third at 48-1 to give $11.60. Exotics gave back $26 (exacta), $634.60 (trifecta) and $1,813.70 for the 7-5-8-9 superfecta ($1).
Friendly Island, Saay Mi Name (Not for Love), Elusive Jazz (Elusive Quality), Who's the Cowboy (Intensity), Dale's Prospect (Pioneering), Forest Park (Forest Wildcat), Wild Tale (Tale of the Cat), Gold Cluster (Formal Gold), Gators N Bears (Stormy Atlantic), Abbondanza (Alphabet Soup) and Ministers Wild Cat (Deputy Minister) rounded out the order of finish. Attila's Storm (Forest Wildcat) and Blown Audit (Devil His Due) were scratched from the race.
Bred in Kentucky by Adena Springs, I'm the Tiger is out of the stakes-winning mare Love Medicine (Mining) and is a half-brother to an unnamed yearling colt by El Prado (Ire) and a weanling colt by Milwaukee Brew. I'm the Tiger now sports a line of 16-7-6-1 with $581,462 in earnings.
After the race, Leo Nechamkin II, the trainer of multiple Grade 3 winner and Laurel Park regular Gators N Bears, expressed his concern for the five-year-old's future.
"This was his way of telling me, 'it's time.' Everyone wants to go out on top, but this may have been one race too many for him. The rider (Abel Castellano Jr.) told me he never picked up the bit. Today, he didn't have his heart in it."
Send this article to a friend