MARYLAND MILLION 2020 PICKS AND STORYLINES

Photo by The Racing Biz.

Saturday’s 35th annual Maryland Million at Laurel Park will be short on fans – Covid-19 gets the blame for that – but as usual, the day should be long on story lines.

Here are five major stories to keep an eye on:

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Rich get richer?

The Maryland Million’s all-time leading trainer and leading active sire both look loaded for bear.

Sire Great Notion is tied for third among sires by Maryland Million wins and will have plenty of opportunities Saturday to move ahead of Two Punch into sole possession of the show spot. Great Notion is the sire of no fewer than 14 horses in the day’s eight major stakes; that’s six more than any other stallion.

For all that, only one of his offspring is favored. That’s Onemoregreattime, who’s 3-1 on the morning line in the $100,000 Sprint.

On the human side, Dale Capuano, the all-time leader in Maryland Million wins with 11, has nine runners entered, three more than any other trainer. None of his runners is favored, though a couple are second choice.

An upset in the Ladies?

The Maryland Million Ladies – a $100,000, nine-furlong turf test for older fillies and mares – has produced the juiciest payoffs.

In fact, only once in the last 15 years has the favorite won the Ladies, that coming in 2018 when My Sistersledge got the money at odds of 3-5.

In all, the last 15 Ladies winners have gone off at average odds of more than 12-1. The average exacta in the race has returned more than $174 on a two-dollar wager.

By contrast, the Sprint has been the most formful of races, with the average winner going off at just over 3-1 and an average exacta payout of $32.63.

Classic Classic

Saturday’s featured $150,000 Classic, at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, might be the best edition of that race in quite a while.

Last year’s second- and fifth-place finishers – Prendimi and Tattooed, respectively – are both back. But both are longshots, Prendimi lined at 15-1 and Tattooed at 20-1.

That’s because, with just four Maryland-sired horses entered, Maryland-breds Harpers First Ride (8-5), Top Line Growth (2-1), and Cordmaker (4-1) drew in. Harpers First Ride won the Grade 3 Pimlico Special last time out in a race in which Cordmaker finished third, and Top Line Growth most recently was second in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile at Monmouth, a race won by Pirate’s Punch, who’s likely headed to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile next out.

Not so sure about those? Take a look at Monday Morning Qb, who’s 5-1 on the morning line. The son of Imagining was up the track last out on the turf but prior to that was a dead-game second in the Federico Tesio behind next-out Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Happy Saver.

Street Magician on the grass

While stallion Great Notion has the most runners entered in the eight major stakes, it’s Street Magician with the most turf horses.

The veteran sire has eight total runners in the eight stakes, and seven of those are in the Turf, Turf Sprint, or Ladies. He has three offspring in the Turf Sprint and two in each of the other two races. That group includes Something Magical, the 7-2 morning line favorite in the Ladies (unless there’s a scratch and No Mo Lady draws in; she’s 1-2), as well as other logical contenders.

  • The autumn of King Leatherbury
    Hall of Fame trainer King Leatherbury, fifth on the all-time wins list, is down to one owner and four horses — but no complaints.

Short prices

Of the horses that are In the main bodies of the major stakes, the two shortest-priced are Hello Beautiful, by Golden Lad, and Fiya (Friesan Fire).

Hello Beautiful, last year’s winner of the Lassie, is the even-money choice in the seven-furlong Distaff. She’s had a somewhat uneven 2020 campaign but has been keeping much better company than these. Golden Lad is the leading second-crop sire in the Mid-Atlantic.

Fiya, 6-5 on the morning line in the Turf Sprint, has impressed since put on the turf earlier this year, winning three straight with ease, most recently in an allowance at Belmont Park. Freisan Fire is Maryland’s third-leading sire so far this year.

EXPERTS’ SELECTIONS

Maryland Million Turf Sprint

 Derby Bill WatsonNick HahnJohn PiassekGary Quill
First1 – A Great Time9 – Fiya9 – Fiya9 – Fiya
Second9 – Fiya4 – So Street8 – Love You Much1 – A Great Time
Third4 – So Street7 – Grateful Bred1 – A Great Time8 – Love You Much
Fourth8 – Love You Much8 – Love You Much6 – Joseph4 – So Street

Maryland Million Nursery

 Derby Bill WatsonNick HahnJohn PiassekGary Quill
First7 – Sky’s Not Falling12 – Depository6 – Moochie6 – Moochie
Second13 – San Antone7 – Sky’s Not Falling4 – Alwaysinahurry3 – Reassured
Third4 – Alwaysinahurry10 – Kenny Had a Notion7 – Sky’s Not Falling7 – Sky’s Not Falling
Fourth10 – Kenny Had a Notion4 – Alwaysinahurry2 – Ain’t Da Beer Cold1 – Tiz Golden

Maryland Million Distaff

 Derby Bill WatsonNick HahnJohn PiassekGary Quill
First6 – Hello Beautiful3 – Limited View7 – Le Weekend6 – Hello Beautiful
Second10 – Coconut Cake6 – Hello Beautiful8 – Quiet Imagination3 – Limited View
Third4 – Las Setas10 – Coconut Cake6 – Hello Beautiful5 – Artful Splatter
Fourth3 – Limited View8 – Quiet Imagination10 – Coconut Cake2 – Gifted Heart

Maryland Million Turf

 Derby Bill WatsonNick HahnJohn PiassekGary Quill
First4 – Mr. d’Angelo12 – Cannon’s Roar9 – Nick Papagiorgio10 – Pretty Good Year
Second9 – Nick Papagiorgio9 – Nick Papagiorgio12 – Cannon’s Roar4 – Mr. d’Angelo
Third12 – Cannon’s Roar4 – Mr. d’Angelo6 – Somekindofmagician9 – Nick Papagiorgio
Fourth10 – Pretty Good Year10 – Pretty Good Year7 – Benny Havens12 – Cannon’s Roar

Maryland Million Sprint

 Derby Bill WatsonNick HahnJohn PiassekGary Quill
First11 – Eastern Bay (AE)10 – Let’s Play Nine3 – Onemoregreattime3 – Onemoregreattime
Second4 – Brilliant Chase3 – Onemoregreattime8 – Karan’s Notion4 – Brilliant Chase
Third7 – Lewisfield6 – Hall Pass10 – Let’s Play Nine6 – Hall Pass
Fourth2 – Baptize the Boy4 – Brilliant Chase4 – Brilliant Chase7 – Lewisfield

Maryland Million Classic

 Derby Bill WatsonNick HahnJohn PiassekGary Quill
First5 – Harpers First Ride5 – Harpers First Ride5 – Harpers First Ride4 – Cordmaker
Second7 – Top Line Growth4 – Cordmaker7 – Top Line Growth7 – Top Line Growth
Third4 – Cordmaker7 – Top Line Growth3 – Monday Morning Qb5 – Harpers First Ride
Fourth3 – Monday Morning Qb3 – Monday Morning Qb4 – Cordmaker1 – Prendimi

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