2012 Maryland Million Pre-Entries Include Three Defending Champions

2012 Maryland Million Pre-Entries Include Three Defending Champions

LAUREL, MD. 09-28-12---The Laurel Park racing office announced this morning that a total of 155 pre-entries (137 horses as 17 were cross-entered, including Steady Warrior who is nominated to three races) were named to the 11 races which comprise the 2012 Jim McKay Maryland Million. The 27th running of the event will take place at Laurel Park next Saturday, Oct. 6. First post is 12:35 p.m.

The post position draw for the $1.05 million day will be held at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 3 in Laurel’s Terrace Dining Room.


$150,000 Classic   13 nominations                                                                                 
$100,000 Sprint 19 nominations  
$100,000 Turf  17 nominations  
$100,000 Turf Sprint     16 nominations  
$100,000 Ladies 11 nominations  
$100,000 Distaff 11 nominations  
$100,000 Oaks 10 nominations  
$100,000 Lassie 14 nominations  
$100,000 Nursery   19 nominations  
$50,000 Starter Handicap 13 nominations  
$50,000 Distaff Starter Handicap 12 nominations  


Overall 11 previous Million day winners are nominated, including three defending champions: Eighttofasttocatch (Classic), Sloane Ranger (Sprint) and Ben’s Cat (Turf Sprint).

Eighttofasttocatch has five career stakes victories at Laurel Park for trainer Tim Keefe. The son of Not For Love is 1-for-5 during his 6-year-old campaign, which includes a score in the Harrison Johnson Memorial Stakes in March. However he has not hit the board in three starts since, including a ninth place finish in the Pimlico Special (G3) on Preakness weekend and a fifth in the Japan Racing Association last month on the Laurel turf.

“I don’t think we’ll be 4-5 this year,” said Keefe, who has three career Maryland Million victories. “He ran a bad race at Pimlico, had the summer off and didn’t win the Japan Racing Association like last year but he ran very well that day. I was very happy with the effort. I was happy with how he came up to the race, am even happier how he came out of that race and am ecstatic with how he is coming into this race. He is fit, happy, sound, is doing everything right and we get him back on the dirt.”

Sloane Ranger edged 2010 Classic winner Regal Solo in last year’s Sprint and will likely face that rival again in 2012. Trained by Marty Ciresa, Sloane Ranger has finished in the money in six of seven starts this year, including a pair of stakes victories. Ciresa indicated Elvis Trujillo will have the mount aboard the son of Parker’s Storm Cat after Horacio Karamanos, who was aboard last year, opted to ride multiple stakes winner Action Andy.

“He is just so consistent,” said Ciresa, who has three Maryland Million wins on his resume. “At 6-furlongs on a fast track he is always there. He has really matured this year and loves to run. I am already looking forward to his 7-year-old year.”

Ben’s Cat is looking to become the fourth horse to win a Maryland Million race three straight years in the Turf Sprint, joining Safely Kept (Distaff, ’89-91), Countus In (Ladies, ’89-91) and Mz. Zill Bear (Ladies, ’93-95). Bred, owned and trained by King Leatherbury, Ben’s Cat has won 17 of 26 starts, including 10 of 15 on the turf. The son of Parker’s Storm Cat had to recover from a broken pelvis before he made his maiden debut at age four, then began his career with eight consecutive victories, which included a 4 ½ length score in the 2010 Turf Sprint. He won last year’s Turf Sprint by a length, one of 12 stakes wins for the 6-year-old. Hebecame Leatherbury’s first millionaire with a repeat victory in the Turf Monster Handicap (G3) at Parx Racing last month.

“It is an incredible story because the kind of horses I breed are not high quality. His sire was an unknown with a $2,500 stud fee and the mare was a homebred,” said Leatherbury, who ranks third on the all-time win list with 6,349 career victories. “Ben’s Cat is really something. In fact, the clocker mentioned to me the other morning he looks as good as ever.”

Leatherbury is tied with Dale Capuano for the top spot in the Maryland Million trainer standings. Both conditioners have saddled nine winners.

Introduced in 1986, the Maryland Million, a program of races restricted to the offspring of Maryland-based stallions, has been duplicated by more than 20 other states. Maryland-sired Thoroughbreds are nominated before they become 2-year-olds and remain eligible for life to run in the Maryland Million races. After twenty-six runnings, 220 stallions have been represented in Maryland Million races.

Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim McKay originally proposed the concept and remained Chairman of the Board until his death four years ago. Twenty-two times attendance figures have topped 20,000 for the event.

The first 4,000 full-paid admissions and Maryland-licensed owners and trainers will each receive a free Maryland Million Sport Cap. On-track entertainment between races will include two pony races, Goshen Foxhounds, Thoroughbred Placement Resources and Special Olympics Maryland.

HRTV will have a live presence for the entire card with hosts Dick Jerardi and Jill Byrne on site.

About Laurel Park

Laurel Park is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida and is one of North America's top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world's largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; Xpressbet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is also a major producer of televised horse racing programming through its HRTV cable and satellite network and is North America's premier supplier of virtual online horse racing games, as well as a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry.