Buff Hello
Buff Hello prevailed in the Maryland Million Nursery. Photo Allison Janezic.

Heading into the latest edition of the $100,000 Maryland Million Nursery for two-year-olds Oct. 23, bettors found it difficult to settle on a favorite. Four horses went off between 3.90-1 and 5.50-1 to top the betting tables.

The longest of those, Buff Hello, managed the mild upset to give rider Charlie Marquez his first Maryland Million stakes win; he had earlier won a starter handicap on the card.   

Following a sharp allowance score at Delaware Park going one mile last out for trainer Jamie Ness, Mr. Mox went off the tepid favorite, while Local Motive (J.D. Acosta), a stakes winner at Colonial Downs, was the second choice. Charles Town invader Coastal Mission (Arnaldo Bocachica), a full-brother to former Maryland Million Sprint hero Lewisfield, was the 9-2 third choice. 

Nevertheless, that trio of runners was foiled in their attempt for Maryland Million success on Saturday.

When the gates opened in the Nursery, Buff Hello (Charlie Marquez), Local Motive and Mr. Mox all displayed the best early speed, racing three across the track down the backside. The opening quarter went by in 22.12 seconds flat, as the leaders continued their duel through the far turn.

Coastal Mission, meanwhile, was just behind the top trio while being angled toward the center of the track for the stretch drive.

At the top of the lane, Buff Hello gradually edged clear from Local Motive and Mr. Mox while Coastal Mission looked to continue his rally down the center of the strip. But over a track that had been favoring speed much of the fall meet, Buff Hello edged clear in the lane to a two-length score in 1:10.51. 

The juvenile of Buffum trained by Claudio Gonzalez for owner Joeseph Besecker, notched his second win from five starts and pushed his lifetime earnings to $96,675.

Buff Hello also gave 18-year-old jockey Charlie Marquez his first Maryland Million takes victory. 

“The rail has been really good here the whole meet, so I just knew I had to get away from there and let him do his thing,” Marquez said. “He’s got a lot of natural early speed. There were a few other horses getting restless in the gate, but he stayed calm the whole time. When he broke sharp, I knew they would have a hard time running him down. He got pressed the first five-eighths, but he pulled away late. Getting my first Maryland Million Stakes win means so much to me. I am so grateful for the owner and the trainer for giving me the chance to ride him.”

After winning against maiden special weight company in his third career outing at Pimlico, Buff Hello ventured north to Monmouth Park for the $200,000 Sapling Stakes. But he was off a step slow that day, moved up to be third early, but then faded to sixth, beaten 13 lengths. 

Still, trainer Claudio Gonzalez was quick to toss that race, believing it would not be long before the Buffum colt would regain his winning ways.

“I always knew this horse had a lot of talent,” Gonzalez said. “Right after he broke his maiden I tried him in the stakes at Monmouth. When he got stuck along the inside and got steadied, he lost all chance. He came out of it okay. I wanted to give him another chance in here. I thought he would run big. I’m not sure what race he’s got next, but I don’t think he will have any trouble going long. I think he’ll be able to carry his speed a distance.”

Coastal Mission, the full-brother to Lewisfield, edged Local Motive for the place spot, while favored Mr. Mox settled for fourth. Coastal Mission had won at first asking at Charles Town going 4 1/2-furlongs.

Buff Hello paid $13.00 to win and topped an exacta that returned $65.80 for one dollar.