Lightening Larry Looking for New Worlds to Conquer
Tuesday, August 1, 2023
LAUREL, MD – Lea Farms’ Lightening Larry, the Florida-bred by Uncaptured who ran his stakes win streak to three with a half-length victory over fellow Gr. III winner Wondrwherecraigis in the $150,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Saturday at Laurel Park, returned to Monmouth Park where trainer Jorge Delgado reported he is ‘doing fine.’
Lightening Larry came from off the pace on a main track where speed had been holding to run down pacesetting Wondrwherecraigis and prevail in the prestigious six-furlong sprint, adding his name to the likes of Hall of Famer Housebuster and champions Cherokee Run, Smoke Glacken, Thor’s Echo and Benny the Bull as De Francis winners.
“I’ll tell you what, I won a Grade 2 [July 28] in Saratoga, but I think it is way tougher to beat Brittany Russell in Maryland,” Delgado said of Wondrwherecraigis’ Laurel-based trainer, the state’s overall leader in wins (72) and purse earnings ($3.143 million) this year that earned a fourth career individual title during the Preakness Meet in May at Pimlico Race Course.
“[Lightening Larry] always shows heart,” he added. “He’s a very straightforward, honest horse. He’s been magnificent in his career. He doesn’t care where he runs or who he runs against, he just tries every time. He’s had a beautiful career. He’s got a strong win percentage. He’s been doing really good for us, thankfully.”
Lightening Larry had galloped out and was jogging back to the winner’s circle following the De Francis when jockey Daniel Centeno stopped and dismounted in upper stretch. The 4-year-old colt stood patiently while being hosed off and walked calmly on to a waiting horse van to be taken off the track.
“He came back in good shape,” Delgado said. “I was a little concerned because they vanned him off and when I spoke to the state vets there they were just doing the precautionary things they have to do. He came back last night. I saw him walking this morning and we checked him with the vet and he’s doing fine. He’ll be all right, so that was a big relief.
“As far as his mood and desire, he’s a straightforward horse and he’s always playing and biting and stuff like that. Nothing has changed,” he added. “He ate all his feed last night and he was just enjoying the morning. It was a beautiful morning in New Jersey, and he was out enjoying the weather and everything.”
Centeno settled Lightening Larry in third behind Wondrwherecraigis, who posted fractions of 21.84, 44.65 and 56.75 seconds in his third straight De Francis after being second each of the prior two years. Lightening Larry was able to collar the leader in the final furlong and prevail in 1:09.29.
“He loves to win, and yesterday he showed it. I don’t think it was an ideal race for him. There wasn’t too much pace in the race, and he was closing from a little outside even if it was a five-horse field,” Delgado said. “I thought [Wondrwherecraigis] had a little advantage over him because he was the only sort of speed and he was on the inside. In the stretch and by the eighth pole, he targeted that horse and said, ‘I’m going to win,’ and he passed the horse. He’s a pretty cool horse. He knows where the wire is, and he enjoys what he does.”
Lightening Larry has eight wins, six in stakes, and $607,080 in purse earnings from 18 starts. Delgado took over his training last March and together they have been third or better in nine of 11 races including prior stakes wins in the 2022 Chick Lang (G3) and this year’s Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park, Mr. Prospector at Monmouth and Delaware Park’s Alapocas Run.
The Chick Lang at Pimlico marked the first graded triumph for both horse and trainer, who since added the 2022 Smile Sprint (G3) at Gulfstream Park with Willy Boi, also owned by Lea Farms, and Saratoga’s Amsterdam (G2) with AMO Racing USA’s New York Thunder.
“He’s the kind of horse that always makes you look good. It doesn’t matter what track it is, or what day or what stake. Nothing matters to him,” Delgado said. “He just goes to the race and he’s a true warrior. He has a heart that a majority of horses don’t have. I have a really good chemistry with him. He likes to run and for the barn he’s a very special horse.”
Delgado, based primarily in South Florida with a summer string at Monmouth, has not plotted out a next start for Lightening Larry. “Thankfully there are plenty of options,” he said. “I will try to look for something in five to seven weeks. He runs basically every four weeks, maybe less days this time, and he responds. I think between this race and the next race I would like to give him an extra couple of weeks and bring him back in 100 percent shape.”
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