MILESTONE WINS FOR TRAINERS FLINT STITES, HUGH MCMAHON

Trainer Hugh McMahon (right) in 2013. Photo Maryland Jockey Club.

A pair of Mid-Atlantic trainers reached significant career milestones over the weekend. Penn National-based conditioner Flint Stites recorded the 2,000th win of his career, while Laurel Park’s Hugh McMahon notched win number 1,000.

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Stites’s milestone win came in the lid-lifter Saturday evening. Though nearly 8-1 at post time, the Stites-trained Justkissmygrits drew away to a seven-length triumph in a $25,000 maiden claiming event. The son of Golddigger’s Boy was bred in Pennsylvania and is owned by North and South Stable.

Stites added a second Saturday win later in the card and now has 2,001 wins from 14,866 starters. His runners have earned more than $32.6 million.

Stites recorded his first training win in 1991. His runners have earned at least $1 million in 17 consecutive seasons and 20 of the last 21 overall.

Stites’s two best years came in 2009 and 2010, his runners topping $2 million in each of those seasons. His barn was driven those two years by his two biggest earners, the multiple stakes winners All Giving ($588,235) and Pocket Patch ($322,635). All Giving won the Maryland Million Distaff in 2009, one of her three stakes wins that year, while Pocket Patch annexed the Maryland Million Turf in 2010.

A day later, at Laurel Park, Larry Rabold’s Polished Gal provided trainer Hugh McMahon with his 1,000th career victory in thrilling fashion, getting her nose down on the wire ahead of late-running Splendor Gal in Sunday’s sixth race.

Polished Gal ($8.60), a 4-year-old Maryland-bred filly ridden by Victor Rosales, ran six furlongs in 1:12.93 over a fast main track to earn her fourth lifetime win from 19 starts in the claiming event for fillies and mares 3 and older.

McMahon, a 52-year-old native of Doncaster, England, has won with four of his last nine starters, winning once on each of Laurel’s four racing programs this week. Polished Gal – his only starter on Sunday’s card – was preceded by Paynterbynumbers Nov. 19, He’s Zippin On By Nov. 20 and Gary Doing Biz Nov. 21.

“I’m excited. It’s a significant landmark,” McMahon said. “It’s humbling as well. I was just speaking with one of our grooms and he congratulated me and I told him it’s not really me, it’s a team, But, we’re more than a team, we’re a family. My name is up there but it’s not really me. There are a lot of people that are involved in this, but more than anything it’s God’s gift to us. Everything that we have is a gift.”

A steady presence among Maryland’s leading trainers since first going out on his own in 2011, McMahon was the state’s overall wins leader in 2013. This year, one abridged by the coronavirus pandemic, he has 33 wins from 206 starters with purse earnings of more than $930,000. McMahon has topped the $1 million mark in each of the past nine years, with highs of 166 wins and $3.981 million in 2013. McMahon is currently tied for fourth with nine wins from 37 starters at Laurel’s calendar year-ending fall meet, which began Oct. 8.       

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