Bonus Points storms home in the Maryland Million Classic at Laurel Park

Bonus Points storms home in the Maryland Million Classic at Laurel Park

Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Bonus Points Storms Home in Maryland Million Classic

Majestic Warrior colt was ninth early, but blew by his rivals late.

Back racing in the state of his birth for just the third time in his career, Three Diamonds Farm's Bonus Points stormed home to take the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic Oct. 21 at Laurel Park.

Having raced against graded company for much of his 3-year-old campaign, the drop in class was noticeable in the stretch, as the Majestic Warrior colt trained by Todd Pletcher inhaled his rivals and pulled away late to win by 2 3/4 lengths.

Ninth early in the field of 11 under jockey Nik Juarez, as many as 10 1/2 lengths behind early leader and two-time Maryland Million Classic winner Admirals War Chest, Bonus Points still had plenty of work to do as he exited the final turn in the 1 1/8-mile test, but rallied wide to finish off the distance in 1:50.50. Fellow closer Southside Warrior finished second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Ghost Bay.

Admirals War Chest, who was seeking his third straight Maryland Million Classic victory, set fractions of :23.53 and :47.83 through a half-mile, but began to back up in the final turn and finished last (Jerandson was pulled up early, did not finish, and was vanned off with a fractured rear ankle). John Jones took over to run six furlongs in 1:12.74, but also didn't last in the top spot and finished seventh as the closers took over late.

"I just sat behind the speed, knowing they were going pretty quick up front for us, and just had plenty of horse coming for home," Juarez said. "I had much the best underneath me today. When you ride for Todd, you're always going to be confident. He's a great horseman.

"I spoke to him this morning and he was very confident in however the race played out. He thought that we had something special today. He just said he's versatile. He can come from off of it or go to the lead. Either way, just ride how it comes up."

Bred by Country Life Farm out of the Not For Love mare Baby Love, Bonus Points now has a 3-3-2 record from 14 starts and $340,650 in earnings.

Video: Maryland Million Classic S.

Juarez, the son of Maryland trainer Calixto Juarez, won two other races on the Maryland Million card, with Clever Mind in the $100,000 Nursery and Spartianos in the $125,000 Turf.

 "It's special. It's really great to come back home and just to be back here for a day like this, but to win three is even better," Juarez said. "I'm just very thankful."

Three Maryland sires got their first black-type stakes winners on the Million card. Buffum , who stood for $2,500 at Northview Stallion Station in 2017, was represented by Clever Mind in the Nursery. Freedom Child , who stood then 2017 season for $3,000 at Country Life Farm, got his with Limited View in the Lassie. Etched, a Bonita Farm stallion for $2,000 in 2017, sired My Sistersledge, who took the Ladies.

Other winners on the card were Blu Moon Ace (Sprint) and Crabcakes (Distaff).