Sumacha'hot, a Maryland-bred who was claimed for $5,000 a year ago, came charging down the stretch to win the $190,000 Jim McKay Maryland Million Classic, the Sept. 26 headliner on Laurel Park’s 12-race Maryland Million Day card.
Owned and trained by Butch Cave, Sumacha’hot was cross-entered in the $50,000 Maryland Million Starter Handicap earlier in the day but scratched out in favor of the Classic. The 4-year-old gelding by Mojave Moon was claimed Sept. 4, 2008 from trainer John Boniface Jr., prior to winning the one-mile race at Laurel by seven lengths.
Sumacha’hot earned $110,000 for the Maryland Million victory, nearly as much as he did in the first 19 starts of his career.
Under jockey Grant Whitacre, the winner lagged far behind all the others for much of the race and was still in last place circling the far turn. Whitacre swung his mount into action and they flew by the field to win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:50.26 on a “wet fast” main track. Cuba, the defending Classic winner, rallied to finish second. Regal Solo finished third, and post time favorite Broadway Producer was fourth.
Sumacha’hot was bred by Bonita Farm is out of the Broad Brush mare Monochrome.
“I claimed this horse because I love Broad Brush mares,” said Cave. “Three days after I claimed him I realized I had a great horse.
“This race was always in our plans. We wanted a race with a lot of pace and I think we could have gotten that in the Starter but there was only one speed horse in there. When I saw the half in :46, I turned around and told my dad, 'We’re home.' He said, 'I wish I could run over to the window and bet more money.' From there he just picked them up one by one. He always has that late, great kick. He’s been good to me this year. I think I’ll take him home for three months. What the heck, they run this race next year.”
The winner paid $15, $7.60, and $4.60. The exacta was worth $120.80, and the trifecta paid $565.20.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Whitacre. “I got riding tips from my brother and my grandfather. (Cave) has done a great job with this horse. He runs his heart out. He’s a great horse and today he proved it. We could have gone in the earlier race. Everybody said we were passing up on a surefire win. We took a shot and it was a good decision.”
In other Million action, The Maltese Cross II’s Target Sighted won the $118,750 Million Turf by 1 1/4 lengths under jockey Jeremy Rose for trainer Francis Campitelli. It was just the fourth career start for the 3-year-old gelding by Not For Love, who covered 1 1/8 miles on the “firm” turf in 1:49.03.
Also, in the $118,750 Million Sprint, even-money favorite Roaring Lion went wire-to-wire to capture the six-furlong race by 3 1/2 lengths under jockey Ramon Dominguez. The Monmouth Park-based 5-year-old gelding by Lion Hearted won his third consecutive race. He is owned by Repole Stable and trained by Bruce Levine.