Hamilton Smith Chasing Elusive Maryland Million Classic Win

Hamilton Smith Chasing Elusive Maryland Million Classic Win

Veteran Trainer Sending Out 5YO All Threes in Saturday Centerpiece
Special 11:30 A.M. Post Time for ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’

LAUREL, MD – A Maryland mainstay for parts of six decades and a winner of more than 2,000 career races, trainer Hamilton Smith is inching closer to one race that has yet eluded him.

Smith, 78, will send out Kathleen Willier’s All Threes in the $150,000 Classic, the 1 1/8-mile centerpiece for 3-year-olds and up on Saturday’s 38th Jim McKay Maryland Million program at Laurel Park celebrating the progeny of stallions standing in the state.

Eight stakes and four starter stakes worth $1.08 million in purses make up ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races,’ with a special first race post of 11:30 a.m. The Classic goes off as Race 11 with a scheduled post time of 5:10 p.m.

Based at Laurel, Smith has run in the Classic five times since 2013 and finished third in each of the past two years with The Poser, who was beaten less than a length at odds of 7-1 in 2021 and 6 ¼ lengths at 11-1 in 2022.

Smith also finished third with favored Just Jack in 2016. Talk Show Man, a two-time Maryland Million Turf winner for Smith, was fourth as the favorite in the 2015 Classic and fifth in 2013.

“Everybody would like to win that one,” Smith said of the Classic. “I’ve run in it several times but I haven’t quite gotten there yet. It would be nice. Maryland Million Day is a big day for Maryland and you always like to do good. We’re going take a swing at it and see what happens.”

Bred in Maryland by Walter Vieser, All Threes is a 5-year-old son of Great Notion, who has produced at least one Maryland Million winner for 13 consecutive years. All Threes will be trying nine furlongs for the first time, but has two seconds and a third – beaten a total of four lengths – going a mile and a sixteenth in three of his last four races.

Among the horses to beat All Threes are stakes winners Everett’s Song, Yodel E.A. Who and Grade 3 winner Double Crown, who is the 9-5 program favorite in the main field of eight Maryland-sired horses. Three Maryland-breds are on the also-eligible list, including third alternate Big Blue Kitten (8-5).

“He’s run with some good company, no doubt about that. He’s been on the board, anyway. He always tries so we’ll give him a shot and see what happens,” Smith said. “He tries hard and he’s been very consistent.”

All Threes, who drew Post 6 with jockey Sheldon Russell, is rated as the 7-2 third choice behind Grade 3 winner Double Crown and defending champion Ournationonparade (3-1), seeking to become just the sixth horse to win back-to-back Classics and seventh with three Maryland Million victories. All Threees has been third or better in eight of nine starts this year and 11 of 15 of 24 lifetime.

Smith is tied for the fourth-most Maryland Million wins with eight, seven behind all-time leader Dale Capuano, who retired at the start of 2023. Smith won the Nursery for 2-year-olds with Carnivorous Habit in 1997 and Greatbullsoffire in 2016, the Lassie for 2-year-old fillies with Gin Talking in 1999, the Ladies for fillies and mares 3 and up on the grass with Debbie Sue in 2006, the Distaff for fillies and mares 3 and up with Blind Date in 2010 and Lionhearted Lady in 2015, and the Turf with Talk Show Man in 2014 and 2018.

“Talk Show Man, he won two there and he hooked that real good horse of Rodney Jenkins’ in a couple of those races [Phlash Phelps]. They fought it out pretty good, back and forth. They were pretty evenly matched and they were very exciting races those two ran,” Smith said. “He handled turf and dirt, anything. He was a real nice horse.”

In addition to All Threes Smith has two other starters on the day, both in the $100,000 Distaff sprinting seven furlongs – Response Time and Luna Belle, Maryland’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2021 and 3-year-old filly of 2022. A five-time stakes winner, also by Great Notion, she is making her first start since last spring’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2).

“It feels good to win any of them, to tell you the truth. Doggone right. You’ve got all the Maryland people and big crowd out there. It’s always great to perform well under those circumstances,” Smith said. “I hope we have a good day. These horse breeders and the farms, they deserve a big day. Without them we wouldn’t have the Maryland-bred racing.”

Stakes preceding the Classic include the $125,000 Ladies for fillies and mares 3 and up in Race 3, $125,000 Turf for 3-year-olds and up in Race 5, $100,000 Lassie for 2-year-old fillies in Race 6, $100,000 Sprint for 3-year-olds and up in Race 7, $100,000 Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds and up in Race 8, $100,000 Nursery for 2-year-olds in Race 9 and $100,000 Distaff in Race 10.

The Ladies and Turf, both at 1 1/8 miles, and 5 ½-furlong Turf Sprint are all scheduled for the Exceller turf course. The Lassie, Nursery and Sprint are set for six furlongs and the Distaff for seven furlongs on the main track.

There will be carryovers of $8,851.08 in the 50-cent Late Pick 5 (Races 8-12), $3,766.83 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 7-12) and $2,916.56 in the $1 Jackpot Super High 5 (Race 6).

Notes: Jockey Jeiron Barbosa doubled for the second straight day Friday, aboard La Traviesa ($10.40) in Race 8 and Poggibonsi ($9.40) in Race 9 … Jaime Rodriguez also rode two winners, Berks ($3.20) in Race 5 and Moncrief ($22.40) in Race 10 … Jockey Sheldon Russell was shaken up after his mount, Binnie, acted up in the gate and was scratched prior to Race 7, a maiden claiming event for 2-year-old fillies. A younger full sister to multiple stakes winner Crabcakes favored at 7-5 for her debut, the Morgan’s Ford Farm homebred daughter of Great Notion is named for late horsewoman Elizabeth ‘Binnie’ Houghton, who bred and raced Crabcakes. Russell was replaced on his lone remaining mount, Gastown Babe, who ran second behind La Traviesa in the second-level optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up. The winning time was 1:02.83 over a firm Exceller turf course … Poggibonsi held off Violent Vixen the length of the stretch to win the co-feature, a second-level optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting 5 ½ furlongs, in 1:04.87 on a fast main track.