Play Bingo Captures Maryland Million Classic

Erdenheim Farm's Play Bingo went from last to first to win the $250,000 Maryland Million Classic Saturday at Laurel Park, the centerpiece of a day of stakes races for the progeny of Maryland breds.

One week after seven and a half inches of rain hit Laurel Park in a two-day period, forcing the postponement of the 20th annual event, 21,653 fans attended on a bright and sunny afternoon in central Maryland. Handle figures on the live card topped $5 million with a record $5,049,426 on the 12-race Laurel card shattering last year's record of $4,642,444.

In the Classic, Jockey Ryan Fogelsonger was content to let his five rivals burn themselves out in the 1 3/16-mile test. Post time favorite Presidentialaffair rushed to the lead and took them all the way into the stretch before giving way. He ended up fourth. Second choice Aggadan chased the frontrunner and used his best in the chase to finish second. Five Steps made a premature run at the top two, loomed a winner, but flattened out and ended up third.

Fogelsonger let the son of Polish Numbers lag far in the rear. When he sent Play Bingo after the leaders, they rallied into contention, barreled past the leaders down the stretch, and none could resist. Play Bingo won the race by a length and covered the distance in 1:59.08.

Play Bingo paid $12. John R.S. Fisher trained the winner, who was bred in Maryland by Dark Hollow Farm and William Beatson. His sire died in 2002.

"He was nice and relaxed," Fogelsonger said. "I waited, waited, waited, then we took off. At the half-mile pole, I kissed him a little. At the 3/8ths pole, we were moving by them. This horse has a tremendous turn of foot. He's as classy as any of the other horses in this race."

Ramon Dominguez, who finished second aboard Aggadan, said, "I thought we were in a great stalking position and, when we started making our move, I thought he was pretty powerful but we were no match for the winner today."

La Reine's Terms Makes Triumphant Return in Turf
Sondra Bender's homebred La Reine's Terms became the oldest to ever win a Maryland Million race when the 10-year-old Private Terms horse scored a comeback victory in the $150,000 Maryland Million Turf, a race he won in 2002.

Last year, La Reine's Terms ran third in the Million Turf. Saturday's start under jockey Jeremy Rose was his first appearance since that outing. Dr Detroit, 2004's Turf winner, was sent off at 18-1 and ran second. Rubi Echo rallied to be third.

The winner completed the grassy nine furlongs in 1:51.60 over the good going and won by three quarters of a length. He paid $13. Larry Murray trains La Reine's Terms for the Benders.

The victory was the fifth in the Maryland Million for the Benders, tying Mea Culpa Stables. It moved La Reine's Terms' earnings to $804,591, ahead of Find among Maryland-breds and 26th all time.

Surf Light Upsets Field in Ladies for Pons Family
Country Life Farm's homebred Surf Light led them start to finish to win the grassy $150,000 Maryland Million Ladies.

The 16-1 daughter of Malibu Moon  carried jockey Rodney Soodeen to a 1 3/4-length victory in 1:51.95 for the nine furlongs over the "good" turf course. Another outsider, Sassy Love, rallied to be second, and post-time favorite Rowdy ran third.

Surf Light ($35.60) was winning one for the Pons family, the owners of Country Life Farm, who lost patriarch Joe Pons this week at the age of 83. Today's 20th Maryland Million Day was dedicated to the late breeder and son of the founder of Country Life Farm.

Mike Pons, a son of Joe Pons and president of the Maryland Million, said, "Do you believe in miracles? I do. What a special day, the first without dad, but he was riding and roping that last sixteenth of a mile."

Saay Mi Name Romps in Sprint
Owner-trainer Wayne Bailey's Saay Mi Name, the post-time favorite, turned out to be a convincing winner of the $150,000 Maryland Million Sprint.

Racing along the rail under jockey Chip Van Hassel, the son of Not For Love held his position until the rider asked him to kick on rounding the far turn. He scooted inside horses to take the lead and drew off to a 1 1/4-length score. Cherokee's Boy took second and earned $30,000, moving him into 16th place ($906,286) on the all-time-list of Maryland-bred runners. American Proud finished third.

Saay Mi Name paid $5.40 as the favorite. He ran the six-furlong distance in 1:10.68 over the fast main track. His owner and Urban Deiter bred the chestnut gelding in Maryland.

Defending champion My Poker Player finished fifth.

Valley Of The Gods Wins As Choice in Distaff
David O'Neill's Valley Of The Gods carried jockey Harry Vega to victory as the favorite in the $150,000 Maryland Million Distaff. The filly won on short rest, having won a stakes race last Saturday at Philadelphia Park, also with Vega in the saddle.

Valley Of The Gods broke next to last in the field of nine but moved steadily toward the leaders while racing wide down the backstretch. She passed everyone until she caught up with front running Spirited Game, who -- she passed at the sixteenth pole -- and galloped out to a half-length triumph. Blind Canyon rallied for the place.

Valley Of The Gods, a bay daughter of Valley Crossing, paid $4.40 as the post time favorite. She finished the seven furlongs in 1:25.34. Spirited Game took third.

Sticky Proves Most Determined in Oaks
Fitzhugh LLC's Sticky and jockey Jozbin Santana got up in the final jump to win the $150,000 Maryland Million Oaks over Lexi Star and jockey Abel Castellano

The winner appeared to be a beaten second inside the sixteenth pole when Santana went to work on the 3-year-old daughter of Concern. Lexi Star, racing on the lead, started to drift and, with Santana urging her on, Sticky surged enough to catch the leader just before the finish line and win by a head. The filly completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:54.20.

Sticky, who is trained by Richard Small, paid $3.60. Robert Meyerhoff bred her in Maryland. Her sire, Concern, stood in Maryland at the Northview Stallion Station but now is located in Oklahoma.

Creve Coeur Wins Nursery Via Disqualification
Eugene Ford's Creve Coeur was elevated to first in the $125,000 Maryland Million Nursery when the judges determined that X Marks The Spot, who crossed the finish line first, bothered him as they raced down the home stretch.

X Marks The Spot, under jockey Stewart Elliott, lugged in just enough to cause Creve Coeur to steady a furlong from home. This was reason enough for the stewards to reverse the order of finish. Preferred Lender finished third.

Ramon Dominguez was aboard Creve Coeur. The win was the fourth on the day for Dominguez. The winning time for the race was posted at 1:26.21 for the seven furlongs. The winner paid $4.

Graham Motion, who won his sixth Maryland Million race, trains Creve Coeur.

Creve Coeur is a son Lion Hearted bred by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman.

Smart And Fancy Takes Lassie
Win & Place Stable's Smart And Fancy rallied down the lane to outlast Racing Bridgett and take top prize in the $125,000 Maryland Million Lassie, but only after the judges ruled on a claim of foul against the winner and made the race official.

Trained by Tony Dutrow, who was saddling his sixth Maryland Million winner, the 2-year-old daughter of Not For Love completed the seven furlongs in 1:25.98. Smart And Fancy survived a claim of foul by the rider of Don't Be Long, Horacio Karamanos, who felt the winner came over on his filly in mid-stretch. The stewards did not agree with Karamanos, placing the blame on the rider of Racing Bridgett and disqualifying the runner-up instead.

The official order of finish was Smart And Fancy, Who Was, and Swear To It. Smart And Fancy paid $4.20.

Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman bred the filly.