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Taco Proves Supream in $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint
Rallies Past G2 Winner Call Paul for First Career Stakes Win
LAUREL, MD – Big Bertha Stable’s Taco Supream emerged from the shadow of his more accomplished stablemate Laki, outrunning the multiple stakes winner as well as two-time graded-stakes winner Call Paul for a three-quarter-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint at Laurel Park.
The six-furlong Sprint for 3-year-olds and up was among seven stakes and four starter stakes worth $1.02 million that helped comprise the 34th Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program, the groundbreaking concept named for the late Hall of Fame and 13-time Emmy Award-winning broadcaster that debuted in 1986.
Taco Supream ($12.20) gave trainer Damon Dilodovico his sixth career Maryland Million victory and jockey Sheldon Russell his seventh and second on the day, following Hello Beautiful’s victory for his wife, trainer Brittany Russell, in the $100,000 Lassie.
The winning time was 1:08.80 over a fast main track.
“It was tough having the two horses in there and early on, kind of hating how it was unfolding for Laki but unsure how it was going to work out for Taco,” Dilodovico said. “Then when Sheldon just kind of tipped him out I saw he had clean air and clean running. I was so confident when he got to that position.
“He’s had a tremendous week,” he added. “He gave us a hell of a mile last fall so I knew he had the stamina, and I think the track’s been speed-favoring, so I’m very happy with the effort. There were some tough horses in this race.”
Russell settled Taco Supream off the pace while 50-1 long shot Fearless Terp ran the opening quarter-mile in 22.38 seconds tracked by Call Paul, the 1-2 favorite, Laki – a four-time stakes winner at Laurel – and 2018 Sprint winner Lewisfield.
Call Paul, racing for the first time at Laurel, took over the top spot after a half in 45.19 and was set down for a drive to the wire by jockey Paco Lopez. Russell steered Taco Supream into the middle of the track and came with a steady run to reel in the favorite and edge past for his seventh lifetime win, all at Laurel.
“I’ve ridden Taco a couple times and usually he’s an aggressive horse. Luckily enough, we broke from the inside and didn't have a game plan,” Russell said. “Damon said to me, ‘Just watch how he breaks.’ He didn’t break running. I had no choice but to sit on him and get him to relax. He switched right off and he gathered himself. At the three-eighths pole, I was just clocking Paco. Turning for home when he gave me his run, he exploded.”
Call Paul was a length better than Lewisfield in third, with another three lengths back to Hall Pass. Laki finished fifth in his third start in 6 ½ weeks.
“Upset about the old man not showing up today, but it’s just too much for him in a short period of time,” Dilodovico said. “The races were just too close, and he fools you because he’s always such a good-feeling horse.”
Taco Supream, a 4-year-old chestnut gelding bred in Maryland by Ann Biggs Jackson, ran second after setting the pace in the seven-furlong Challedono Stakes Sept. 28 at Laurel. Dilodovico said he may bring the horse back for another stakes try before the end of the year.
“He’s got a lot of muscle things that go on, minor things, but [they’re] major things when he’s so big,” he said. “He’s really kind of gentle for as big as he is. They let me take my time with him. We have a little bit of time, maybe we’ll look for something in December.”