Sylvia E. Heft’s Eighttofasttocatch won just as an odds-on favorite should, running down the speed and bounding away to victory in the $150,000 Classic, the feature race contested under rainy conditions on Jim McKay Maryland Million day at Laurel Park Oct. 1 (VIDEO).
The Maryland Million is the most important racing day at Laurel Park with 11 races for runners sired by Maryland-based stallions for combined purses totaling $1.05 million. The 26th annual event drew a crowd of 20,907.
Jockey Sheldon Russell was at the controls as yet another Not For Love offspring captured yet another race at Maryland’s Day at the Races. It was also the second year in a row that Russell won the Classic. Last year he guided Regal Solo to victory in the Million’s signature race.
“The key is to get him to relax,” said Russell. “Mud doesn’t bother him because he’s run well on it before. I was a little concerned because the speed horse didn’t break, but it worked out. I got him to switch off and then he came back running. I was lucky that way. Since they’ve taken the blinkers off of him he’s been very hard to beat.”
Tim Keefe trains Eighttofasttocatch, who has won seven times at Laurel including the Japan Racing Association Stakes in his previous start. The 5-year-old gelding, who was bred by Dark Hollow Farm and Herringswell Stable, paid $3.60.
Jorge Chavez sent Regal Warrior out to an uncontested lead in the 1 1/8th-mile test, leading by as much as six lengths before Eighttofasttocatch began to close in on his target. Regal Warrior surrendered the lead, Eighttofasttocatch moved to the fore, and drifted out before being straightened away to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Cactus Charlie finished second and Not Abroad was third.
Last year Jonathan Joyce was aboard the Partner's Hero gelding for trainer Flint Stites. This year Forest Boyce had her turn aboard Pocket Patch and the win marked her first score in a Maryland Million race.
Pocket Patch met with no resistance as he dragged Boyce to the lead down the backstretch and they quickly opened a 2 1/2-length lead on their seven rivals. At the end of the nine furlongs contested over a yielding turf course, Pocket Patch was ahead by 4 3/4 lengths and under the finish line in 1:56.67, with Day Flight finishing second and Ham And Ernie taking third. Action Andy was fourth.
Pocket Patch, who was bred by his owner, paid $15 and topped a $317.40 exacta, a $5,265.20 trifecta and a $37,455.10 super.
Sloane Ranger, bred and owned by Vicki Schowe, pressed the pace, then spurted away to win the $100,000 Sprint (VIDEO). The victory was the second on the afternoon for an offspring of Parker's Storm Cat.
Trained by Marty Ciresa, the 5-year-old gelding held off last year’s Maryland Million Classic winner, Regal Solo, to win by a half-length. Sandbagin' Lover finished third. Defending champion Jack On the Rocks finished fifth.
Sloane Ranger was timed in 1:10.15 for the six furlongs, contested as light rain set in over the central Maryland track.
Sloane Ranger paid $6.60 as the race favorite. Regal Solo was attempting to become just the fifth three-time winner of a Maryland Million race. He won the Nursery as a 2-year-old in 2007 and the Classic a year ago but the Damon Dilodovico trainee had not competed since that victory because of minor foot issues.
Richard L. Golden’s Love's Blush improved one position from her runner-up finish in last year’s Maryland Million Ladies in her third attempt to win on Maryland Million Day (VIDEO). Her victory rewarded Laurel-based trainer Rodney Jenkins with his first victory at Maryland’s Day at the Races.
Jeremy Rose held the reins as the 5-year-old daughter of Not For Love raced outside of horses from start to finish. She spurted to the lead entering the far turn, then slowly drew away. With the win, Love’s Blush was conquering last year’s winner My Sweet Nenana and eight other fillies and mares in the nine-furlong test over the soft turf. The defending champion finished fourth.
Love’s Blush, who was bred by Sycamore Hall Farm LLC, completed the distance in 1:55.03 and won by 3 1/2 lengths while paying $11.20 for the win. Baltimore Belle finished a game second while Dream Louise was third.
John Petrini’s Love That Dance took over the lead just a few strides after the start, then set the tempo the rest of the way to win the $100,000 Distaff (VIDEO). This was her second Maryland Million day victory in three attempts.
In 2009, the Ben Perkins-trained filly won the Maryland Million Oaks. In 2010, she placed second in the Distaff behind Blind Date, who labored to finish fifth behind her this year.
Pablo Fragoso, who has ridden Love That Dance exclusively since June, was in the irons as the daughter of Not For Love covered the seven furlong distance in 1:24.51. The 5-year-old mare won by a head over a very game Silver Heart, while Fools In Love was another 1 1/4 lengths farther back in third.
Love That Dance paid $5.40. She was bred by her owner in New Jersey.
No Guts No Glory Stable’s Glib rocketed to the top of his class with an easy score in the $100,000 Nursery (VIDEO). A seven-length winner in his debut at Charles Town in late August, the son of Great Notion had Eric Camacho as a passenger as he swept to the lead nearing the far turn and galloped away to an easy score in 1:10.95 for the six-furlong distance. Coach Fridge finished 4 1/2 lengths back in second while Won The War took third.
John Robb trains Glib, who was bred by Mr. and Mrs. Charles McGinnes. Glib paid $12.80.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life.” said owner Gina Rosenthal, the daughter of former jockey and trainer Luigi Gino. “This is a big moment.”
Owned by All the Above Racing, Bluegrass Atatude, a Two Punch filly bred by Bowman & Higgins Stable, Anthony W. Dutrow, and Rebecca Davis, carried Jorge Chavez to the finish line in 1:12.45 for the six-furlong distance over the main track.
“All year long we’ve been training for this spot,” said Salzman, who finished second in this race last year with Twelve Pack Shelly. “I wanted her just to lay off the pace and then to get geared up coming down the lane.”
Bluegrass Atatude paid $11.40.
The Jim Stable’s Ben's Cat launched his patented late burst to win the $100,000 Turf Sprint for the second straight year (VIDEO). Jeremy Rose was aboard the son of Parker’s Storm Cat, who was bred by his owner-trainer, the legendary Maryland conditioner King Leatherbury. Ben’s Cat won by a length over Steady Warrior, who fought the winner all the way to the finish line.
Ben’s Cat, who stopped the clock in 1:06.07, paid $3 as the 1-2 betting favorite. He was winning for the 13th time in 18 starts, the seventh time on the turf and taking down his eighth stakes victory. His lifetime earnings are now $733,230.
The 5-year-old captured the Turf Monster Handicap (gr. III) at Parx Racing on Labor Day, which earned an automatic berth into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. II) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. However, Ben’s Cat is not Breeders’ Cup nominated, so Leatherbury is looking for an investor to flip the bill on the $100,000 supplemental fee.
“We will start to get more serious on it now and see what we can do,” said Leatherbury.
Nona Lisa Stables LLC’s Brushed By Love proved to be relentless in the one-mile $100,000 Oaks, forcing the action down the backstretch after breaking last, edging to the lead into the turn, then drawing away from her four rivals (VIDEO).
Under jockey Julian Pimentel for trainer Mike Trombetta, the 3-year-old daughter of Not For Love won by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:38.68 over the fast main track. Blushing B. J. edged out frontrunner Love's Reason for second.
Brushed By Love, bred in Maryland by Bowman Higgins Stable, Thomas Sutton, & Huckleberry Farm LLC, paid $4.80.
The victory brought to 22 the number of wins in Maryland Million races by offspring of Not For Love, which ties the total amassed by the late Allen’s Prospect.
This was the fourth Maryland Million score for Trombetta. Pimentel has been aboard all four winners.
C & B Stable’s Call Of A Lion rallied through traffic to take the $50,000 Distaff Starter Handicap (VIDEO). Call Of A Lion was winning for the third time since re-entering the barn of Charles “Snake” Frock, who had claimed the 5-year-old daughter of Lion Hearted for $5,000. After raising the filly, Frock had lost her via the claim for $32,000 the previous year at Monmouth Park.
Horace Parker’s Shordawatyadrink added another win to his modest string of victories at Laurel Park when he closed strongly to win the $50,000 Starter Handicap, the finale on the 11-race card (VIDEO).
Luis Batista, who had won aboard the Mojave Moon gelding in his previous start, was aboard again as Shordawatyadrink covered the mile in 1:38.62 over a good surface, beating Swallow The Field by a length and a half, while Money for Love finished third.
The owner also trains Shordawatyadrink, who paid $6. This was Parker’s first Maryland Million winner, as it was for Batista.