Hot Pace Figures in Maryland Million Sprint

(from Laurel report)
Deer Run is the defending champion of the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint, one of the 11 added money races on Maryland Million Day Saturday at Laurel, but most of the attention has gone to trainer Ben Feliciano Jr.

Feliciano will saddle a pair of high profile front runners in the same six-furlong heat.

In his final tune-up last month, Crossing Point established a new five-furlong track record at Pimlico with a front running victory, finishing in 56.71 and bettering the 10-year old track record. Since being claimed into the Feliciano barn in June 2002, Crossing Point has won six of 12 and finished in the money nine times. The son of Allen's Prospect set a record for 5 ½ furlongs at Laurel Park 11 months ago.

However, Crossing Point isn't the only star sprinter Feliciano has in his 50-horse stable. On August 23, Ameri Brilliance lowered the world record for a half-mile at Timonium, blazing the four furlongs in 43.76.

"If this wasn't the Maryland Million I would not run these two in the same race," said Feliciano. "But this day is important to both owners and how could I tell them not to run them on Maryland's day at the races?"

Five sprinters conditioned by Feliciano own track records.

"My thoughts are that they are both going to fly," added Feliciano. "I am hoping they can relax together because neither cares if they run head-to-head. But at the same time I can see them going way too fast. I could also see them going head-to-head to the quarter pole and then see who the best horse is. The best script would be that they run 1-2, but no matter what the outcome I am proud of both of these horses."

The field features six stakes winners, including Crossing Point (5-2) and Deer Run (3-1), the top two choices on Frank Carulli's morning line. The other added money winners are Love Happy (9-2), Love Sam (10-1), He's A Knockout (15-1) and Lightning Paces (30-1). Ameri Brilliance is 9-2.

Elsewehere, a total of 114 offspring of Maryland stallions are entered to race on Saturday after Thursday's scratches. All 11 races feature at least eight runners, with seven double-digit fields.

Three of the scratches were horses that were cross-entered. Graham Motion scratched Coquettish from the $100,000 Ladies, opting for the $100,000 Oaks. Stepatatime will run in the $200,000 Classic after conditioner Chris Grove scratched the 4-year old from the $100,000 Turf. Quick Punch, one of the three horses entered by owner Michael Gill in the $100,000 Sprint, will instead run in the $100,000 Turf.