Ournationonparade Chasing History in Maryland Million Classic

Ournationonparade Chasing History in Maryland Million Classic

Defending Champ Attempting to Become Three-Time Million Winner
Richest of Eight Stakes, Four Starter Stakes, on ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’

LAUREL, MD – Morris Kernan Jr., Yo Berbs and Jagger Inc.’s Ournationonparade will be chasing history in more ways than one when the 6-year-old gelding returns to make a title defense in the $150,000 Classic on the 38th Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program Saturday, Oct. 14 at Laurel Park.

The 1 1/8-mile Classic for 3-year-olds and up is the richest on a 12-race card featuring eight stakes and four starter stakes that comprise ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races,’ celebrating the progeny of stallions standing in the state. Doors will open at 10 a.m. EST Saturday, with a special first race post time of 11:30 a.m.

Ournationonparade, co-owned and trained by Jamie Ness, can become just the sixth horse to win the Classic in back-to-back years and the first since Admirals War Chest in 2015-16. Other multiple winners are Timely Warning (1990-91), Algar (1997-98), Docent (2002-03) and Eighttofasttocatch (2011, 2013-14).

Bred in Maryland by John Williamson III, the son of Cal Nation won the 2019 Nursery in his second lifetime start and can join late legendary gelding Ben’s Cat, Countus In, Docent, Eighttofasttocatch, Hello Beautiful, Mz Zill Bear and Hall of Fame mare Safely Kept as the only horses to win three Maryland Million races since the program was launched in 1986.

Claimed for $40,000 out of his previous start in Kentucky in 2022 Market Maven (Jamie Ness, no rider)

Dolice Vita (Phillip Capuano, Charlie Marquez)
Ournationonparade (Jamie Ness, Jaime Rodriguez)
Ain’t Da Beer Cold (Kenny Cox, Jevian Toledo)
Rhumjar (Claudio Gonzalez, Jomar Torres)
All Threes (Hamilton Smith, Sheldon Russell)
Loose Ends (Cathal Lynch, William Humphrey)
Double Crown (Raymond Ginter Jr., Jeiron Barbosa)

Maryland-bred also-eligibles:
Big Blue Line (Paul McGee, Joe Rocco Jr.)
Frightland (Brittany Russell, Jevian Toledo)
Super Accelerate (Robin Graham, Horacio Karamanos)

with an eye on the Classic, Ournationonparade stretched out around two turns for just the second time in 10 starts and first going nine furlongs to win by 5 ¾ lengths as the favorite. He ended 2022 running second by a half-length in the 1 1/8-mile Richard W. Small and third in the 1 1/16-mile Robert T. Manfuso, also at Laurel.

“We claimed him last year with this race in mind and everything worked out great. He ran well,” Ness said. “This year, we’re coming in good. We’ve kept him kind of fresh for this race. This is the race we’ve been pointing for all year, so we’ll let him rip.”

Ournationonparade has one win in seven starts this year, a popular three-quarter-length allowance triumph going 1 1/16 miles April 14 at Laurel, but has also placed five times, four of those in stakes. Most recently he ran fifth to Double Crown in the 1 1/16-mile Polynesian Sept. 10 at historic Pimlico Race Course, his first time in 13 races finishing worse than third.

“He fires every time, this horse,” Ness said. “We caught that one nice horse a few times that we couldn’t beat, Nimitz Class, but he’s not in there this Saturday. We’re ready to go. I think it’s a good spot. The mile and an eighth is a good distance for him.”

Ournationonparade, rated at 3-1 on the morning line, will have Jaime Rodriguez aboard from Post 4.

Ness also entered Gregory Gordon’s Market Maven, a 5-year-old Super Ninety Nine gelding that comes in having run third in the 1 1/16-mile Alphabet Soup Handicap against fellow Pennsylvania-breds Sept. 23 at Parx. It was the second start after joining Ness, also running fourth in the one-mile, 70-yard Storm Cat Aug. 21.

“I picked him up this summer. He’s Maryland-sired and the owner wanted to take a shot, so here we are,” Ness said. “He’s run well in some nice stakes and been right there. He’s going to be formidable. He’s a nice horse.”

Market Maven (4-1) will break from the rail.

Built Wright Stables’ Double Crown, fourth in last year’s Classic and second as the favorite behind Air Token in the 2021 Sprint, is back in the Maryland Million for a third straight year. The Polynesian was his second win in four starts, both around two turns, making him 2-for-13 this year and 8-for-39 lifetime with a bankroll of $738,520.

“If you look at his record on the time leading up to the Polynesian, he was raced hard,” Built Wright’s Norman ‘Lynn’ Cash said. “He comes back really well. We worked him the other day, just a nice, easy work, and he went well.

“I think he fires when he feels like firing. Apparently, I haven’t figured him out or I’d be able to get his pattern a little tighter. Sometimes he comes out and he just doesn’t fire,” he added. “I don’t know if it’s the way the race sets up or what. It seems like he likes to be forwardly placed, but then he’ll be patient and come off the turn kind of in one run.”

Such was the case in the Polynesian, when he got a patient rail-hugging ride from Jeiron Barbosa and opened up once he saw daylight in the stretch. It was the fourth career stakes win for Double Crown and first since his 42-1 upset of the 2022 Kelso Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park, which came just seven days after the Classic.

“That was a pretty impressive ride by Barbosa that day. He just sat there and waited and waited and waited for that rail to open up. That was probably the key to the win because we came through running four or five lengths less than the ones that went outside,” Cash said. “It seems like he’s running as good or better than he ever has.”

Barbosa gets the return call from Post 2 on Double Crown, the 9-5 program favorite among Maryland-sired horses.

Also back in the Classic is Matt Spencer, Kelly Jo Cox and Bonuccelli Racing’s Ain’t Da Beer Cold (30-1), eighth both in 2021 and as the co-second choice in 2022. The 5-year-old Freedom Child gelding is winless in nine starts this year and has placed previously in three stakes, all at Laurel, the most recent coming in the Feb. 18 John B. Campbell. He stumbled at the start and was never in contention last out in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance Sept. 30 at Laurel.

Jevian Toledo, with 13 Maryland Million wins to his credit, rides from Post 7.

Kathleen Willier’s All Threes will attempt to extend sire Great Notion’s streak to 14 consecutive years with at least one Maryland Million winner and give trainer Hamilton Smith his ninth and first in the Classic. The 5-year-old gelding has run third or better in eight of nine starts this year with two wins, both going a mile in the spring, and has gone up against the likes of stakes winners Double Crown and Yodel E.A. Who and Grade 1-placed Borracho.

“He tries hard, that little horse,” Smith said. “He’s a real small colt but he’s got some speed and he runs up close to the front end all the time going long. He’s been running well [but] the big boys come and get him the last couple races he’s run, but not because he’s not trying. He keeps running and trying right to the end. Maybe we’ll get one lucky one day and they’ll forget to catch him.”

Sheldon Russell is named on All Threes (7-2) from Post 6.

Taking Risks Stable and Louis Ulman’s Dolice Vita put together three straight wins to end 2022 and begin 2023 and has made six subsequent starts, placing four times. After running second at 10-1 in a 1 1/8-mile allowance May 27 at Pimlico, the 4-year-old Dortmund gelding got some time off and returned to be third in a 1 1/16-mile starter optional claimer Sept. 30 at Laurel.

“I gave him a little break after his race at Pimlico,” trainer Phillip Capuano said. “He’s a nice horse. He’s a 4-year-old now, he’s getting stronger. He’s happy. He came out of that last race in good shape, so we’ll see what happens.”

Dolice Vita (20-1) will have Charlie Marquez up from Post 3.

Runnymoore Racing’s Loose Ends (10-1), a 4-year-old homebred son of 2015 Preakness (G1) third-place finisher Divining Rod, comes into the Classic off a three-quarter-length optional claiming victory going one mile Aug. 5 at Delaware Park. In his only other stakes appearance, he ran second in last summer’s Crowd Pleaser against Pennsylvania-breds at Parx.

William Humphrey will be aboard for the first time from outermost Post 8.

David Gruskos’ Rhumjar (12-1), eighth in last year’s Maryland Million Turf for previous connections, is looking for his first win since being claimed for $20,000 in June at Monmouth Park by trainer Claudio Gonzalez. The 4-year-old Holy Boss gelding has run third twice in four subsequent starts, most recently beaten 1 ¼ lengths in a one-mile optional claimer Sept. 28 at Delaware.

Jomar Torres has the riding assignment from Post 5.

Maryland-breds on the also-eligible list, based on earnings since Oct. 23, 2022 are, in order: Steven Walfish’s Super Accelerate (8-1), winner of the seven-furlong Star de Naskra July 29 at Laurel; Sycamore Hall Thoroughbreds’ Frightland (12-1), a last-out allowance winner going 1 1/16 miles Sept. 2 at Colonial Downs; and Silverton Hill’s Big Blue Line (8-5), second in four consecutive starts including the R. A. Cowboy Jones Aug. 13 at Ellis Park.

Registered Maryland-breds are only able to run in races with less than eight Maryland Million-eligible entries.