MD MILLION: LEWISFIELD SEEKING SECOND SPRINT WIN
Making just his third start of the year and first in two months, Linda Zang’s multiple stakes-winning homebred Lewisfield returns in time for his third consecutive trip to the Maryland Million in Saturday’s $100,000 Sprint at Laurel Park.
The six-furlong Sprint for 3-year-olds and up is among eight stakes and four starter stakes on the 35th Jim McKay Maryland Million program, ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’ celebrating the progeny of stallions standing in the state.
- For Rick Williams, it starts and ends with horsesRick Williams, the new safety officer at Colonial Downs, has a horse-first approach to racing he’s honed at many stops along the way.
Carded as Race 10, the Sprint immediately precedes the featured $150,000 Classic for 3-year-olds and up. First race post time is 11:25 a.m.
A gelded 6-year-old son of Great Notion, the Maryland Million’s leading active sire with 13 career winners, Lewisfield won the Sprint in 2018 and was third last year during a campaign where he was named the champion Maryland-bred sprinter, bookending his season with stakes victories at Laurel in the Not For Love and Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial.
Both stakes wins came at the Sprint’s six furlongs, where Lewisfield owns a record of 7-4-5 from 19 tries. Finishing first or second Saturday would put him over $500,000 in lifetime earnings.
“He definitely likes the track and that’s the distance he likes,” trainer Jeff Runco said. “We had a nice workout the other day with him and he’s been training well since, so we’re going to get him ready for Saturday. Hopefully, he’ll do well. I think he’ll be fine.”
Lewisfield is named for an Arabian breeding operation owned by Zang’s late father-in-law. Her husband, James F. Lewis III, was a mainstay on the Maryland racing scene as an owner-breeder and first president of Maryland Million Ltd., and has had a stakes race for 2-year-olds run in his honor since his death in May 2012.
Like many horses, Lewisfield’s 2020 season was compromised amid the coronavirus pandemic that put racing on hold across the country including Maryland and Runco’s base at Charles Town. Lewisfield didn’t debut until July 4 at Laurel, finishing fourth in a six-furlong optional claimer, beaten less than three lengths off a seven-month layoff.
In his most recent race, Lewisfield was in striking position for a half-mile in the seven-furlong Russell Road Aug. 28 at Charles Town before fading in the final eighth to run last of nine. He didn’t return to the work tab until Oct. 1, and fired a bullet half-mile in 48 seconds Oct. 15 for the Sprint.
“He wasn’t able to race. He was in training the whole time,” Runco said. “There’s a lot of horses out there like this, who were ready to run but with no place to run so you train them and train them and train them. It’s really not good for the horses because they need to race when they’re ready to run.
“The shutdown was tough on him,” he added. “He lost a lot of time this year being in training and everything closed down. It’s a shame, but it is what it is. We’ll see how he does. We’ll try this and I think after this I want to give him a chance on the grass, hopefully this year.”
Lewisfield has won four career stakes and placed in 10 others through 25 starts, including thirds in the 2018 and 2019 Maryland Sprint (G3) at Pimlico Race Course. Horacio Karamanos is named to ride from Post 7 for Runco, a winner of more than 4,300 career races.
“He’s just been great. He’s a great horse. He’s been a fun horse to have,” Runco said. “We’ve been able to travel with him. He always tries. He’s had a couple of rough trips here and there but that’s how racing is. He gives it his all every time. Hopefully we’ll have a good trip on Saturday and we’ll see how it goes.”
Also making his third straight trip to the Sprint, but first for trainer Jerry O’Dwyer, is Clover Hill Farm and Clover Hill Racing’s Onemoregreattime. Another son of Great Notion, the 5-year-old gelding finished fourth in 2018 and sixth last year for previous trainer Jerry Robb.
Onemoregreattime was beaten a head after setting the pace in a six-furlong optional claimer July 4 at Laurel, his debut for O’Dwyer and first race following the 2 ½-month coronavirus pause. He has finished off the board in three subsequent starts, most recently running fifth in the Polynesian Stakes Sept. 5.
“We’re very happy with him. We think he runs best fresh, so we haven’t run him for a while. We just decided to back off him and aim him for this race,” O’Dwyer said. “This is our primary goal, so that’s why he hasn’t run in a while. But he’s a very active horse, he hasn’t missed a beat in training, he breezes good every week. We just did a nice maintenance half-mile last week, he’s very fit. We just wanted to keep him fresh and happy going into the race.”
In his recent races, Onemoregreattime has run up against such horses as multiple stakes winner Laki, who parlayed a runner-up effort in the Polynesian to victory in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) Oct. 3, and Polynesian winner Eastern Bay, who is the first of five Maryland-bred also-eligibles in the Sprint.
“He’s always knocking heads with the best of them around here, and he’s always right there. He’ll get his turn,” O’Dwyer said. “Hopefully this year this could be his year. We hope it can be. I’m very happy with how he is. He can’t be in any better form. I think we finally figured out that he just likes to run fresh so we’re going to try to keep him that way. He’s run some very good numbers and he’s never disgraced.”
Jevian Toledo has the call from Post 3.
Maryland’s leading trainer the past three years, Claudio Gonzalez entered both Eastern Bay and Maryland-sired Baptize the Boy, a son of 2014 General George (G3) winner Bandbox that drew Post 2. Magic Stable’s Baptize the Boy has been third or better in seven of nine starts this year with two wins, racing primarily at Parx.
Robert D. Bone’s Eastern Bay, claimed for $35,000 in February, would need at least two scratches from the main body of the field to draw into the race. Following the Polynesian, he came up a nose short of Laki following a dramatic late run in the De Francis.
“He ran so big the last time. He didn’t break that sharp and it was a little too much for him to do. If he was a little closer to the group, maybe we catch him, but that’s racing,” Gonzalez said. “He likes what we do with him. He’s a classy horse. He doesn’t need too much. We try to keep him happy and he shows you he is in the afternoon.”
Also in the main body of the race are Whiskey and You; recent Parx allowance winner Brilliant Chase; Seany P; stakes-placed Hall Pass, fourth in last year’s Sprint; Karan’s Notion, For the Moment and Let’s Play Nine, a winner of three of four career starts but unraced since March 13.
Grade 3-placed stakes winner Whereshetoldmetogo, Abuelo Paps, defending Sprint champion Taco Supream and Girls Love Me join Eastern Bay on the also-eligible list.