From a Maryland Jockey Club release
The 30th anniversary of the Jim McKay Maryland Million will be celebrated Saturday, 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 once 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 over the main track that drew 12 nominations, and the one-mile $125,000 Turf, which attracted 23 nominations.
The son of Parker’s Storm Cat, who has three wins and two seconds in the five Maryland Million starts, stretched out to finish a close second in the Maryland Million Turf last year. The versatile Ben’s Cat has won $2.4 million and 30 of 51 starts, including 11 victories over dirt – his most recent being sharp a 3 ½-length victory in the $200,000 Fabulous Strike at Penn National in his 2014 finale last November.
The 19 nominees for the $150,000 Classic also include an oldie-but-a-goodie in 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 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 Grade 2 Commonwealth Cup last month, and Phlash Phelps, who is riding a three-race winning streak that includes a score in the Find Stakes over the Laurel turf course on Aug. 22 and a five-length allowance romp over Pimlico’s main track 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.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Bullheaded Boy, a two-time winner from four starts on turf at Belmont Park, was also nominated for both the Classic and Turf.
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 over a yielding Laurel course in the $150,000 Lady Baltimore Sept. 12, previously captured the All Brandy Stakes over a firm course. The runner-up and third-place finisher in the All Brandy, Vielsalm and Green Wave Girl, were also nominated to the Ladies.
Devilish Love, the 2014 Ladies runner-up, and Monster Sleeping, who captured the Jameela two starts back, were also nominated for the Ladies. 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.
Love That Jazz leads the nominees for the Nursery, a six-furlong sprint. The Steve Asmussen-trained son of Not for Love followed up a runner-up finish at Saratoga with a maiden-breaking victory in the $116,000 Aspirant at Finger Lakes.
Look Who’s Talking boasts the strongest credentials in the Lassie. Trained at Robin Graham, the daughter of Cape Blanco won at first asking at Laurel Aug. 15, capturing a 5 ½-furlong turf race before going on to finish second in the off-the-turf Selima Stakes. Most recently, Look Who’s Talking set the pace before fading to fifth in the Miss Grillo (G3) on turf at Belmont Park last month.
The $50,000 Starter Handicap and the $50,000 Distaff Starter Handicap drew 14 and 11 nominations, respectively.