Maryland Million 2020 was unlike any recent Maryland Million day. Oddly enough, it was also the most normal racing day we’ve seen in months.

The fans were there, albeit in limited numbers. More than an hour before first post, a few dozen were already lined up waiting to enter the track. And midway through the card, a handful of hopefuls stood outside; with general attendance capped at 250, latecomers had to wait, and hope, for folks already inside to leave.

Lines at the food court were long most of the day, and a pair of food trucks for Maryland Million owners did what seemed to be a brisk business.

Here are five takeaways from the day:

One in 50: There was no happier outcome on the day than Karan’s Notion’s victory in the Sprint. Sent right to the lead by jockey Yomar Ortiz, Karan’s Notion, off at 16-1, simply forgot to stop, stubbornly holding off more accomplished rivals like Lewisfield and favored Onemoregreattime to win by a length. It was the first Maryland Million starter in trainer Nancy Heil’s 50-plus-year career. “Never give up,” Heil advised the crowd.

Sometimes a Great Notion: Actually, pretty often a Great Notion. Great Notion, the 20-year-old sire standing at Northview Stallion Station, entered the day in a tie for third among Maryland Million sires with 13 victories. But after scores by Epic Idea (Ladies), Kenny Had a Notion (Nursery), Pretty Good Year (Turf), and Karan’s Notion (Sprint), Great Notion jumped to 17 wins. He now has dead aim on Allen’s Prospect, the second-leading Maryland Million sire, who has 22 victories. All-time leader Not for Love is safely clear of the rest with 36.

First time for everything: Three sires recorded their first Maryland Million wins. Imagining earned his first when Monday Morning Qb took the Classic, and Mosler got his first with a win by Miss Nondescript in the Lassie. And Baltimore Bob got win number one when Beltway Bob scored a 20-1 upset in the nightcap, a turf starter. “You haven’t arrived until you win on Maryland Million day,” said Mike Pons of Country Life Farm, which stands Mosler.

Riders’ races: Three jockeys accounted for nine of the 12 wins on the card. Sheldon Russell won four, highlighted by his score aboard Monday Morning Qb in the Classic. Trevor McCarthy won three times, including aboard 1-9 Fiya in the revived Turf Sprint. And Jevian Toledo won with two; both were starter stakes, with Glengar going off at 28-1 and Beltway Bob off at 20-1.

Top three performances of the day:

  1. Monday Morning Qb: A dominant win in the Classic against the best field – by far – of the day, one that included Grade 3 Pimlico Special winner Harpers First Ride and two other graded stakes-placed runners. This Butch Reid-trained son of Imagining may be on the brink of big things.
  2. Hello Beautiful: A couple of forays into open company didn’t work so well for this Brittany Russell trainee, but a return to easier company and her home track in the Distaff netted the daughter of Golden Lad an 11-length win in a sharp 1:21.84 for seven furlongs. If she stays sound and in training, she looks like she could have Fritchie – as in, a start in the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie over the strip – written all over her.
  3. Kenny Had a Notion: The son of Great Notion made short work of what appeared to be a wide-open group in the Nursery, powering home to a five-length victory. The time wasn’t anything special – 1:10.55 for six furlongs, officially. But it was a good-looking win, and he scooted home the last quarter-mile in just about 24 seconds flat. He’s trained by all-time leading Maryland Million trainer Dale Capuano, who won twice on the day.

Music: Guts and Bourbon, Kevin MacLeod (
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