The 26th Jim McKay Maryland Million attracted 111 entrants to the 11-race program which will be held Oct. 1 at Laurel Park. The total purses are worth more than $1 million.
In the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic at 1 1/8 miles, a wide-open field of seven was entered including the second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers from last year’s Classic. Defending titleholder Regal Solo will be running in the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint earlier on the card.
Eighttofasttocatch was tabbed as the 7-5 morning line favorite for the Classic. The son of Not For Love has won three straight races at Laurel, including the Sept. 10 Japan Racing Association Stakes and Harrison Johnson Stakes.
“I’m confident on the fact that he’s training well,” trainer Tim Keefe said. “He had a very nice work (Sept. 26). I’m as happy with him as I could be right now.”
Not Abroad (9-5) finished second to Regal Solo last year as a 3-year-old. He comes into the Classic in fine form with first- or second-place finishes in his last three races, including a 5 1/2-length victory in the Governor’s Day Stakes at Delaware Park Sept. 10. Nick Petro rides the colt for his brother, Mike.
In the Juice (5-1) finished fourth in the Classic as the even-money favorite last year. This year, the son of Rock Slide has placed first or second in four of seven starts. The Jerry Robb trainee has finished behind Not Abroad in his last two starts, both at Delaware.
“His last two races have been in spots where there was no speed,” Robb said. “He didn’t get to run his race. I’ll take him back this time, hope there is speed in the race and make one run to the finish line.”
The Classic is the 10th race on the program with a post time of 6 p.m. EDT.
In the $100,000 Turf Sprint, only six challengers are willing to face defending titleholder Ben's Cat. The 5-year-old gelding has won three of his last four including the Turf Monster Handicap (gr. IIIT) Sept. 5 at Parx Racing.
Ben's Cat, the 4-5 favorite, is bred, owned, and trained by King Leatherbury. He has won 12 of 17 starts overall, including six of eight on the turf. The son of Parker’s Storm Cat had to recover from a broken pelvis before he made his maiden debut at 4, then began his career with eight consecutive victories, which included a 4 1/2-length score in the 2010 Turf Sprint.
“He is a terrific human interest story from where he was to where he is now,” said Leatherbury. “We are pleased with how he is coming into the race, he has shown no signs of slowing down.”
In the $100,000 Distaff, last year’s winner Blind Date and 2009 Maryland Million Oaks winner Love That Dance will meet for the third consecutive year on Maryland Million day. New Jersey-bred Love That Dance, who was seventh last out in the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. II), was pegged as the 8-5 favorite.