The 30th anniversary of the Jim McKay Maryland Million will be celebrated Oct. 17 at Laurel Park with the running of nine stakes, which attracted a total of 155 nominations.
The star of the $1 million showcase for horses sired by accredited Maryland stallions is again expected to be Ben's Cat, who is scheduled to make his sixth consecutive Maryland Million appearance. Bred, owned, and trained by Hall of Famer King Leatherbury, Ben's Cat was nominated for both the $100,000 Sprint, a six-furlong event on the main track that drew 12 nominations, and the mile $125,000 Turf, which attracted 23 nominations.
The 19 nominees for the $150,000 Classic include oldie-but-goodie Not Abroad, the 8-year-old who captured the 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-olds and older in 2012. Noteworthy Peach, the runner-up in the $100,000 Federico Tesio for 3-year-olds at Pimlico Race Course in the spring, is nominated to take on the elder multiple-stakes winner after finishing first or second in his last six starts.
Talk Show Man, who finished sixth in the Commonwealth Cup (gr. IIT) in September, and Phlash Phelps, who is riding a three-race win streak that includes a score in the Find Stakes on the Laurel turf course on Aug. 22 and a five-length allowance romp at Pimlico in May, have been nominated to both the Classic and Turf.
Michael Harrison's Talk Show Man is the defending Turf champion, having closed with a rush to defeat Ben's Cat by a half-length in 2014.
Dark Hollow Farm's Joy tops the list of 20 nominations for the $125,000 Ladies, a 1 1/8-mile turf stakes for fillies and mares. The Graham Motion-trained multiple stakes winner, who finished sixth on a yielding Laurel course in the $150,000 Lady Baltimore Sept. 12, previously captured the All Brandy Stakes on a firm course.
Can't Explain, the winner of the off-the-turf Wasted Tears at Gulfstream Park last time out, was nominated to both the Ladies and the $100,000 Distaff, a seven-furlong dash on the main track for fillies and mares that drew 18 nominees. Classy Coco was also nominated for the Distaff to defend her six-length victory last year.
The $100,000 Nursery, which attracted 22 nominations, and the $100,000 Lassie, which drew 16 nominations, will feature Maryland-sired 2-year-olds. The $50,000 Starter Handicap and the $50,000 Distaff Starter Handicap drew 14 and 11 nominations, respectively.