Francis Underwood, the Indiana sired pacer trained by Perry Smith, earned the win in the evening’s featured event at Hawthorne Racecourse Friday, Jan. 28. With Michael Oosting in the bike, the gelding scored the win in 1:54.3 in the $13,700 Open Pace.
Starting from post three, it appeared Francis Underwood and Oosting had early intentions of getting up near the lead in the reduced field of five. However, with the outside two horses also showing interest in the lead, Francis Underwood backed off as Fox Valley Gemini and Casey Leonard, the favorites of the field, took over, putting Gotham Hanover and Travis Seekman to their back in second before the quarter in :28.3. Francis Underwood was in the back of the pack as the field moved to the half in :58.0.
The Thunder Rolls and Joey Putnam moved to the outside, giving Francis Underwood a cue to also move to the outside and begin to get into contention. With three in and two out at the three-quarter mile marker in 1:26.0, it was evident the race was in for a competitive stretch drive.
As the field turned for home Fox Valley Gemini and Casey Leonard held on for the lead with Francis Underwood fanned out the widest. At first, it looked like Francis Underwood was stalled but midway through the stretch, he found a new gear and drove by for the win by two and one-quarter lengths over Gotham Hanover, giving Smith a training exacta in the race. Fox Valley Gemini finished third.
Francis Underwood paid $5.00 for the win. The five-year-old son of Time to Roll earned his first win of 2021 in four starts for Smith, who also owns him. Jerry Graham bred the gelding, who now has nine wins in 58 career starts. His earnings are now over the $130,000 mark with his career best time of 1:51.1 taken last year at Harrah’s Hoosier Park.
Smith acquired Francis Underwood through a claim this past fall at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. The gelding was the representative of the fractional ownership program First Turn Stables under the direction of trainer Missy Essig.
Francis Underwood is one of 10 foals from the Illinois bred brood mare One Sure Thing, who is a 100 percent producing mare. Speed runs deep in the family as she is a full sister two two Illinois champions, Smellthecolornine and Let’s Go Higher, who are half-million dollar winners. In addition to Francis Underwood, One Sure Thing has four other foals with earnings over $200,000, including Mahdi with a mark of 1:49.3, Apache Renegade with a mark of 1:51.0, Little Miss Henry with a mark of 1:53.0 and Big Brad with a mark of 1:51.0.
Francis Underwood has a half-sister named Sure Thing Lena who is by Always a Virgin who is a two-year-old in 2022.