185 nominated to Maryland Million stakes
2015 Maryland Million Classic winner Admirals War Chest. Photo by The Racing Biz.
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Four defending champions and six other past winners are among the 185 nominees to nine stakes on the 31st annual Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program Oct. 22 at Laurel Park.
A total of 11 races will be run during ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races,’ including four over Laurel’s world-class turf course. Entries close and post positions will be drawn Wednesday, Oct. 19.
Leading the nominations are multiple Maryland Million winners Ben’s Cat and Monster Sleeping.
A 26-time stakes winner and earner of more than $2.6 million over his storied career, 10-year-old gelding Ben’s Cat won the Turf Sprint from 2010-2012 and was second in the Turf in 2013 and 2014 and the 2015 Sprint. Bred, owned and trained by Hall of Fame horseman King Leatherbury, he is among 19 nominees in the $100,000 Sprint for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs on the dirt and 25 in the $125,000 Turf for 3-year-olds and up at one mile.
Monster Sleeping won the $125,000 Maryland Million Ladies for females 3 and up at 1 1/8 miles on the grass in 2013 and 2015 and was fifth in 2014. The 7-year-old mare is one of four defending champions nominated to return, along with Admirals War Chest in the $150,000 Classic, Phlash Phelps in the Turf and Stolen Love in the $50,000 Starter Handicap.
Along with Ben’s Cat, other past Maryland Millions winners nominated to stakes are Corvus (2015 Nursery) in the Turf; D C Dancer (2014 Sprint) and Outbacker (2014 Starter Handicap) in the Sprint; Lexington Street (2015 Lassie) in the $125,000 Ladies and $100,000 Distaff; and It’s a Boy (2013 Nursery) in the Starter Handicap.
The richest event of the day, the 1 1/8-mile Classic for 3-year-olds and up drew 16 nominations including Bullheaded Boy and I’m Mr. Blue, who ran 2-3 behind Admirals War Chest last year; 2015 Maryland champion 3-year-old male Noteworthy Peach; John Jones, on a three-race win streak starting with his 43-1 upset of Ben’s Cat in the Aug. 20 Mister Diz; Find Stakes winner Eyeplayeveryday; 2015 Maryland Juvenile Futurity winner Ravenheart, fourth in last year’s Nursery; stakes-placed Flash McCaul, Just Jack and Pizmo Time, and Phlash Phelps.
A 5-year-old gelding, Phlash Phelps capped a four-race win streak in last year’s Turf and was voted Maryland’s champion grass horse. He has one win from four 2016 starts and finished third in the Henry S. Clark and Find Stakes. Also among the Turf nominees are Grade 3-placed Tizarunner, Maryland’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2015; stakes-placed Easy Runner, Grandiflora, Here’s to Mike, Spartianos and Willy d’Rocket as well as Admirals War Chest, Ben’s Cat, Bullheaded Boy, Eyeplayeveryday, John Jones and Just Jack.
Led by Monster Sleeping, her Dale Capuano-trained stablemate Rocky Policy, and Lexington Street, the Maryland Million Ladies attracted 16 nominations. They are joined by Complete St., most recently second by a neck in defense of her 2015 Brookmeade Stakes victory Sept. 24 at Laurel; Debbie’s Tude, winner of the All Brandy Stakes June 25 at Pimlico; 2014 All Brandy winner Vielsalm, second by a head at 76-1 in the Gallorette (G2) May 21; and stakes-placed Devilish Love and Northern Smile.
Ben’s Cat will tie In the Curl (1986-92) for most Maryland Million starts with seven. Second by a nose to Jack’s in the Deck in last year’s Sprint, he is joined by nominees D C Dancer; Easy River; Just Jack, two lengths ahead of Ben’s Cat as runner-up in the Mister Diz; multiple stakes winner and Grade 3-placed Morning Fire; Rockinn On Bye, third in the Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) May 21; and stakes-placed Final Prospect and Sumpter.
The $100,000 Distaff at seven furlongs for fillies and mares 3 and up drew 21 nominations topped by Lovable Lady, a winner of three straight races including back-to-back Laurel stakes in the Jameela on turf and Politely over a sealed sloppy main track Oct. 1. Joining her are Deliver Me, 2016 Conniver winner Candida H. and My Magician, who ran 2-3-4 in the Politely; Delaware Park stakes winner Outwithbigdaddy; stakes-placed Pinkout and Rockin Jojo, and Lexington Street.
The most popular race was the $100,000 Lassie at six furlongs for 2-year-old fillies, which attracted 28 nominations. Among them are Diamond Dollar, winner of the Mark McDermott Stakes over Presque Isle Downs’ all-weather surface Sept. 24; Sagamore Farm’s Misty On Pointe and homebred Riley’s Choice, each coming off Laurel victories; and recent maiden winners Baltimore Miss, Big Blue Arrow, Ideal Behavior, Item, Old Line Gal, Phantom Shot, Preciate It and Sommer Something.
Strike Your Colors winner Greatbullsoffire, whose first loss came as the beaten favorite in the Laurel Futurity Sept. 10, is the lone stakes winner among 21 nominees for the $100,000 Nursery for 2-year-olds at six furlongs. Also nominated are Bonus Points, a Belmont Park maiden winner Oct. 1 for trainer Todd Pletcher; and Laurel maiden winners Cherokee Spirit, In Arrears, Martywiththeparty, Maryland’s Best and O Dionysus.
The Starter Handicap for 3-year-olds and up and $50,000 Distaff Starter Handicap for fillies and mares 3 and up, each at one mile, drew 24 and 15 nominations, respectively. Lunar Rock, runner-up to Stolen Love last year, and 11-year-old gelding No Brakes, a 22-time winner from 106 career starts, are among the Starter Handicap nominees. Returning in the Distaff Starter is Aix En Provence, second in last year’s race.