From a Maryland Jockey Club release
The 29th Jim McKay Maryland Million attracted 124 entrants to the 11-race program which will be presented this Saturday at Laurel Park. First post for the $1 million day is 12:15 p.m. Eastern.
The $150,000 Maryland Million Classic at 1-1/8 miles features nine runners, including defending champion Eighttofasttocatch, who also won the race in 2011. Maryland Jockey Club handicapper Keith Feustle made the 8-year-old the overwhelming 3-5 morning line favorite.
The son of Not For Love finished off the board in his only start this year but Eighttofasttocatch has nine career stakes victories at Laurel Park. A win in the Classic would vault the Tim Keefe trainee near $1 million in career earnings. He is currently at $914,585.
“He’s coming into the race well,” Keefe said. “He’s had a lot of time off, longer than I wanted. He’s been training well.”
Keefe indicated his Laurel-based star would be retired after the Jennings Handicap here on December 6.
“It’s hard when you’ve dictated a horse like this with a starting time and a finishing point and the finishing point is coming up,” added Keefe, who has four career Maryland Million wins. “It’s a little bitter sweet knowing that this is my favorite race of the year, always look forward to this and knowing that he’s just got one more after that. The saving grace is that he comes back to me. I won’t be able to see him barn 6A anymore but when I go home I’ll be able to see him.”
The Classic is the 10th race on the program with a post time of 5:37 p.m.
[boxify cols_use =”6″ cols =”6″ position =”right” box_spacing =”5″ padding =”3″ background_color =”gray” background_opacity =”10″ border_width =”1″ border_color =”blue” border_style =”solid” height =”390″ ]$150,000 Maryland Million Classic (10th Race)
PP Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Love’s Not Fair Horacio Karamanos Claudio Gonzalez 30-1
2 Connemara Coast Daniel Centeno Tim Keefe 15-1
3 Eighttofasttocatch Forest Boyce Tim Keefe 3-5
4 Concealed Identity J.D. Acosta Linda Gaudet 15-1
5 Turbin Inoel Beato Keith Nations 8-1
6 Irish Lion Jevian Toledo Phil Schoenthal 20-1
7 Wild Louis Cecily Evans Dane Kobiskie 15-1
8 Seventeenohsix Kendrick Carmouche John Servis 6-1
9 Excessive Drama Angel Serpa Tres Abbott 12-1 [/boxify]
But in the most high-profile of those, the headline won’t be the champ; it’ll be the horse he narrowly bested a year ago.
One race before the Classic will be the $125,000 Maryland Million Turf featuring a rematch between defending champion Roadhog and runner-up Ben’s Cat.
Roadhog has a win and three second place finishes in six starts this year for trainer Lizzie Merryman. The 7-year-old son of Bowman’s Band is 10-of-35 lifetime with earnings over $600,000.
After victories three straight years (2010-2011-2012) in the Turf Sprint, Ben’s Cat finished second by a neck behind Roadhog a year ago in the Turf after the Turf Sprint was eliminated. After initially thinking that Ben’s Cat would run in the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint, owner/trainer King Leatherbury decided to run the son of Parker’s Storm Cat back in the Turf for the second consecutive year.
Ben’s Cat worked a mile over the dirt in 1:44 this past Saturday.
“All I had were the past performances. After I got my sheets, the turf race seems to be an easier race,” Leatherbury said. “He’s (Roadhog) not as good as last year, I don’t think.”
Ben’s Cat is 27-of-43 lifetime, including 17 stakes victories on the turf for earnings of $2,175,990, but is coming into the race off a disappointing third place finish in the Laurel Dash three weeks ago.
“The last race was very disappointing to me,” added the 81-year old conditioner. “A lot of times you run third and you’re happy to get third, but not when you expect to win. Even though he ran a nice race, I was disappointed. It worries me a little bit. Usually he runs better than I think he will.”
Hall of Famer Safely Kept (Distaff-1989-90-91), Countus In (Ladies-1989-90-91), Mz. Zill Bear (Ladies-1993-94-95) and Docent (Sweepstakes-2001 & Classic-2002-03) are the only other runners to win three times on Maryland Million day. Eighttofasttocatch and Roadhog can join the exclusive club Saturday.
The third horse looking to repeat is Monster Sleeping in the $125,000 Maryland Million Ladies. Trainer Dale Capuano is tied with Leatherbury atop the Maryland Million standings with 10 wins.