From the Maryland Jockey Club
The 22nd Maryland Million, set for Oct. 13 at Laurel Park, has attracted 120 entrants for 12 races, including the $300,000 Maryland Million Classic. First post for the program is 12:15 p.m. EDT.
In the 1 3/16-mile Classic, a field of 10 will face the starter, including defending champion Due and 2005 winner Play Bingo. Trained by Dale Capuano, Due upset Cherokee’s Boy in last year’s main event at odds of nearly 10-1.
This year, the son of Rinka Das is winless in three starts, including a fourth-place finish in an allowance test in September. He has been made a 9-2 third choice in the morning line. Ramon Dominguez will ride the 6-year-old gelding.
“He’s doing very well,” said Capuano, who is tied with Bill Boniface atop the trainer standings on Maryland Million day with eight wins. “We had that race a couple of weeks ago. It was a tough race for him. He ran well and worked great (Oct. 7), so we’re set. He likes the distance and we hope he runs his race.”
Five Steps is the 2-1 morning-line favorite. Trained by Chris Grove at the Bowie Training Center, the son of Yarrow Braeis a perfect three-for-three this year with stakes wins at Meadowlands and Charles Town Races & Slots after missing the entire 2006 campaign with injuries, including a suspensory.
Five Steps finished third in the Classic two years ago. J.D. Acosta has the mount.
“Two years ago, I really thought he should have won that race,” Grove said. “He didn’t get lucky that day. Hopefully, this is our year to win it. He’s doing excellent coming off the layoff. He’s going to be fine for the distance. He’s a much more relaxed, much more mature horse this time around.”
Play Bingo finished ahead of Five Steps in the Classic two years ago but since that victory has run just five times. Ryan Fogelsonger, who was aboard the son of Polish Numbers in last year’s Classic, regains the mount for owner-trainer Doc Fisher.
The Classic is the 11th race on the 12-race card with a post time of 5:40 p.m. The race is one of four that will be broadcast live on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and Baltimore’s WNUV-TV 54.
The first 4,000 full-paid admissions and Maryland-licensed owners and trainers will each receive a free Maryland Million sport cap. On-track entertainment between races will celebrate Maryland’s rich equine heritage. The Maryland Lottery will have three cash drawings worth a total of $17,500 in between the eight and ninth races.
Laurel Park will begin offering a $1 pick six on Maryland Million day, up 50 cents from the current wager, with a special $25,000 gross guarantee to kick off the new format.