Saturday's Jim McKay Maryland Million Day Features 106 Starters

Saturday's Jim McKay Maryland Million Day Features 106 Starters

LAUREL, MD. 10-03-12---The 27th Jim McKay Maryland Million, a festive homecoming for Marylanders, attracted 106 entrants to the eleven race program which will be presented this Saturday at Laurel Park. First post for the $1.05 million day is 12:35 p.m.

The $150,000 Maryland Million Classic at 1-1/8 miles features six runners, including defending champion Eighttofasttocatch, last year’s runner-up Cactus Charlie and third place finisher Not Abroad plus two others who competed in the race the last two years.

Maryland Jockey Club handicapper Frank Carulli has tabbed Eighttofasttocatch as the 9-5 morning line favorite. The son of Not For Love has won 10 career races, nine at Laurel Park. The 6-year-old has five stakes wins at the central Maryland track, including a repeat score in the Harrison Johnson Memorial Stakes on March 24.

“I like the spot and I’m happy with the way he’s coming into the race,” trainer Tim Keefe said. “He’s as happy and sound as he’s ever been in his entire career. If he gets beat Saturday it’s because he gets beat by a better horse.”

Eighttofasttocatch has run just three times since winning the Harrison Johnson, including a fifth place finish in the Japan Racing Association Stakes here on the grass last month.

“He’s one of my favorite horses,” said Sheldon Russell, who has ridden 16 times and will be aboard Saturday. “I was disappointed the last time we ran him on the grass. I dropped the whip or it would have been better outcome. He keeps improving and loves the big days.”

Keefe also cross-entered his star in the $100,000 Turf as a backup plan.

“It is 99.99 percent we’re going in the Classic,” added Keefe. “I wanted options because I didn’t know how this race would come up.”

Not Abroad (2-1) finished second to Regal Solo in 2010 as a three-year-old before last year’s third place finish. The son of Not For Love comes into the Classic in fine form with first or second place finishes in four of his five races this year. Nick Petro rides the colt for his brother Mike.

After his second place finish in the Classic a year ago, Cactus Charlie (4-1) has finished in the money in three of five races, but the son of Not For Love has not visited the winners’ circle. Shannon Uske is the regular rider for trainer John Tammaro IV.

Regal Warrior (8-1) was third in the 2010 Classic while in the Mike Trombetta barn then finished fifth a year ago while being conditioned by Mitch Friedman. The son of Louis Quatorze was claimed by Rick Dutrow in February but has run just once, a fifth place finish behind Eighttofasttocatch in the Harrison Johnson Stakes in mid-March. Julian Pimentel has the riding assignment.

In the Juice (12-1) has finished sixth and  fourth in the last two runnings of the Classic. This year, the son of Rock Slide is winless in five starts. Wesley Ho rides the Jerry Robb trainee.

The only newcomer to the Classic is Tujoes (6-1) who comes into the race off two straight victories, including the Roanoke Stakes at Parx Racing on September 8. Angel Arroyo will ride for trainer Steve Klesaris. The son of Oratory is also entered in the $100,000 Sprint.

The Classic is the 10th race on the program with a post time of 6 p.m.

$150,000 Maryland Million Classic (10th Race)   
PP Horse Jockey Trainer Odds Notes  
1 Regal Warrior Julian Pimentel    Rick Dutrow  8-1  in the money 19-of-35  
2 Not Abroad  Nick Petro Michael Petro 2-1 first or second in 19-of-32  
3 Eighttofasttocatch  Sheldon Russell  Tim Keefe 9-5 9 of 10 wins at Laurel Park  
4 Cactus Charlie Shannon Uske  John Tammaro IV  4-1 in the money 14-of-25  
5 In the Juice   Wesley Ho Jerry Robb  12-1 even money fave in ’10 Classic  
6 Tujoes  Angel Arroyo Steve Klesaris  6-1 has won two straight    

Here is a capsule of the other ten races on Saturday’s program. A more detailed advance on the Maryland Million undercard will be produced Thursday:

$100,000 Lassie (1st race)

Seven 2-year-old fillies are entered, including Mystic Love, an impressive winner in her debut last month for trainer Frannie Campitelli.

$50,000 Distaff Starter Handicap (2nd race)

Nine horses are entered in the one-mile test, including a pair from trainer Damon Dilodovico (Franstein and Lady Outflanker).

$100,000 Ladies (3rd race)

Nine fillies and mares are expected, including 2010 Oaks winner Baltimore Belle.

$100,000 Distaff (4th race)

Multiple stakes winner Bold Affair, last year’s Distaff runner-up Silver Heart and 2011 Oaks winner Brushed by Love top a field of seven fillies and mares.

$100,000 Oaks (5th race)

Nine 3-year-old fillies are expected to face the starter, including 2011 Lassie winner Bluegrass Atatude, undefeated Spring Dance and Jazzy Idea, who broke a turf record in the Jameela Stakes on opening day of the fall meeting for owner-trainer-breeder Edwin Merryman.

$100,000 Turf Sprint (6th race)

Ben’s Cat is looking to become the fourth horse to win a Maryland Million race three consecutive years, joining Safely Kept (Distaff, ’89-91), Countus In (Ladies, ’89-91) and Mz. Zill Bear (Ladies, ’93-95). The son of Parker’s Storm Cat became King Leatherbury’s first millionaire with a victory in the Turf Monster (G3) at Parx Racing in his last start. The 6-year-old, who has 12 career stakes victories, will be carrying 128 pounds, 11 more than his nearest rival.

“He’s the best horse but I’m not happy with that kind of weight,” Leatherbury said. “He’s maintained his class and is doing fine.”

Nine challengers are willing to face Ben’s Cat, including millionaire Heros Reward from the Dale Capuano barn. The 10-year-old, who has career earnings of $1,252,898 (nearly $92,000 more than Ben’s Cat), has run just four times this year, including a fifth behind the favorite in the Mister Diz Stakes at Pimlico earlier this year.

“Maybe Ben won’t run his race this time,” Capuano said. “He (Heros Reward) is fresh and sound. He shows up every time and you can’t ask for any more than that.”

Capuano and Leatherbury are tied atop the Maryland Million trainer standings with nine winners.

The field also features Steady Warrior, who finished just a length behind Ben’s Cat in last year’s Turf Sprint and a neck behind in the Mister Diz.

$100,000 Nursery (7th race)

A full field of 14 2-year-olds is expected. The field includes a pair of runners trained by both Mike Trombetta and John Servis.

$100,000 Sprint (8th race)

Defending champion Sloane Ranger, 2010 Classic champion Regal Solo and multiple stakes winner Action Andy headline the nine horse field.

$100,000 Turf (9th race)

Race features 2009 winner Target Sighted andeleven other turf specialists.

$50,000 Starter Handicap (11th race)

Wide-open affair includes 2008 winner Let Me Be Frank, who is hoping to tie La Reine’s Terms for the oldest Maryland Million winner (10).


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.

Party at the Park, located trackside in Paddock Park, will feature beer, wine, cornhole, live music between races and all you can eat wings from 12-5 p.m.

Hall of Fame riders Steve Cauthen and Jean Cruguet will be signing autographs outside the Horse Wizard Room from 1-3 p.m.

Jeremy Plonk and Brian Nadeau from Horse Player Now’s Night School will be providing expert analysis of the card from the Horse Wizard Room.

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.