Trainer Damon Dilodovico waited until the morning of Oct. 2 to scratch Regal Solo from that afternoon’s Maryland Million Turf Stakes. The decision allowed the 5-year-old gelding to run in the $150,000 Jim McKay Maryland Million Classic Stakes (VIDEO), and he came barreling down Laurel Park's stretch to win the premier event on the Maryland Million card after finishing third last year.
The Maryland Million offered 11 races, with combined purses of $1.05 million, for runners sired by Maryland-based stallions. The 25th annual event drew a crowd of 23,367, ninth best in the history of the Maryland Million. Attendance has exceeded 20,000 on 21 occasions.
Jockey Sheldon Russell, who captured two other Maryland Million races on the day, rode Regal Solo, a son of Louis Quatorze and the Polish Precedent mare Sonata. Bred by Mr. and Mrs. E. Allen Murray Jr., Regal Solo is owned by Alvin M. Lapidus.
The pace of the Classic was pedestrian, as longshot Movin’ Out led the field around the clubhouse turn and down the backstretch. Favored In the Juice and 9-year-old Cuba raced in close pursuit, while Regal Solo was content to travel at the back of the six-horse field.
Russell sent Regal Solo wide around the final turn and the gelding grabbed the lead in the stretch, pulling away to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Not Abroad finished second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of Regal Warrior.
“We had to go to plan B because he (Regal Solo) did not break sharply from the gate,” Russell said. “He gave me a particularly good race, though, and sat comfortably around the entire track. We had to be a bit ‘cautionary’ going around because the ground had been somewhat wet all day. All I had to do was keep out of trouble and when I let out a notch, he really took off for me. He was a lot sharper at the end then I thought he might be.”
Regal Solo covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.43 over a track that was rated fast. He paid $13.40, $5.40, and $3.80. The exacta was worth $36 and the trifecta paid $188.80.
“I thought we could get the job done here,” said Dilodovico, who has five Maryland Million victories. “We’ve been pointing for this race. We had a couple setbacks with this horse in the spring but he’s come on lately.
"We went back to last year when he ran third. I was happy with last year. We just needed to tweak a few things, although I was a little concerned with the distance. We didn’t know what to expect so we told Sheldon to be ready for anything. When he was settling, with a ton of horse, as close as he was, I felt good about it. If he had done anything careless early, the horse would have taken off with him.”
Regal Warrior was followed by In the Juice and 2008 Classic winner Cuba. Movin’ Out was pulled up by jockey Eric Camacho and did not finish.
A winner of seven of his 24 career races, Regal Solo has earned $362,340. He scored in the 2007 Maryland Million Nursery Stakes and the 2009 Jennings Handicap at Laurel.
Other Maryland Million winners Oct. 2 included Doing Great in the $100,000 Lassie Stakes, Steady Warrior in the $100,000 Nursery Stakes, Northpoint Costas in the $50,000 Starter Handicap, Blind Date in the $100,000 Distaff Handicap, and Ben's Cat in the $100,000 Turf Sprint Handicap.
Also successful were Jack On the Rocks in the $100,000 Sprint Handicap, Pocket Patch in the $100,000 Turf Stakes, Baltimore Belle in the $100,000 Oaks, My Sweet Nenana in the $100,000 Ladies Stakes, and Silver Heart in the $50,000 Distaff Starter Handicap.
Russell was aboard Blind Date and Jack On the Rocks.