MD Million: Ournationonparade headlines Classic

Ournationonparade won the 2019 Maryland Million Nursery in dominant fashion and looked to be a star on the rise.

Saturday – three years, two trainer changes, and three additional claims later – the son of Cal Nation will for the first time return to the site of his biggest victory in search of his first stakes win since.

Ournationonparade has been installed at 5-2 on the morning line in the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic. Cordmaker is 6-5 on the morning line but, because he would need three to scratch, almost certainly will not draw in.

The race, contested at 1 ⅛ miles on the main track, is carded as the 11th on a 12-race program. Post time is 11:30 a.m.

Ournationonparade arrives at Laurel on a three-race win streak, the victories coming at Churchill, Indiana, and back at Churchill. He also arrives in a new barn, that of Jamie Ness, after being claimed last out for $50,000.

“We kind of claimed him purposely to hopefully run in this race and he’s trained good for it. We’re looking forward to it,” Ness said. “He looked like a horse that was worth it whether he was Maryland-bred or sired or not. It looked like he was a legit horse, but having this race coming up we decided to go in and try to get the horse. We went to a five-way shake to get him and I think most of the people shaking with me had the same thing in mind. I got lucky in that regard. He’s been moving forward so we’re ready to go.”

That race was September 28, and Ournationonparade breezed a half-mile in a zippy 47 ⅖ seconds October 15 at Ness’s Parx Racing base. Jaime Rodriguez will ride.

Six of Ournationonparade’s seven victories have come around one turn. The good news, however, is that the seventh, two back, came going 1 1/16 miles and netted him a runaway victory and a career-top Beyer speed figure of 94.

“That’s the elephant in the room, the distance. We had this race and the Sprint, but I think he’d be a little bit better in this race than that one. I think we’ve got him ready, so it’s up to him now,” Ness said. “He’s just a classy horse, No issues. I just hope I can get out of him what the previous trainer did. If we can get on the level of what he did last time, I think he’ll be tough.”

Ournationonparade won the Maryland Million Nursery. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

Oddly enough, given how well traveled he is, Ournationonparade will face a surprisingly familiar foe in Double Crown, who is, at 9-2, the co-second choice in the main body of the race. Double Crown and Ournationonparade saw each other five times during their two- and three-year-old seasons, with Double Crown finishing ahead of his rival in all five.

Double Crown won two stakes at Gulfstream as a three-year-old in 2020 but has not won a stake since. He’s now in the barn of trainer Norman Cash, who claimed him for $40,000 back in June. The Bourbon Courage gelding was a distant second last out in the Polynesian over the strip.

Cash is slated to send out two, with 2020 Classic winner Monday Morning Qb also in the field, at 15-1.

“I’m getting jazzed about the Maryland Million,” Cash said. “I’d think Double Crown will probably be the favorite going long there, and Monday Morning Qb won that race as a 3-year-old. I’m looking forward to it.”

Horacio Karamanos will ride Double Crown, while apprentice Will Humphrey has the call on Monday Morning Qb.

Monday Morning Qb is not the only former Classic winner in the field. Last year’s champ, Prendimi will try to defend his title. The Dance With Ravens gelding, now seven, was a stubborn front-running winner last year, holding off Tappin Cat to win by a neck. 

He enters this contest winless in three 2022 tries, though he did give an improved account of himself last out when fourth in the Charles Hesse, III Handicap for New Jersey-breds at Monmouth Park. He led for the first six furlongs before tiring late.

Prendimi is 20-1 on the morning line and will have Paco Lopez in the irons.

“It was very special [last year] because he had finished second before and he had run well in it the year before,” said trainer Luis Carvajal, Jr.. “I really like Laurel because that’s where I got my first graded-stakes win with Imperial Hint and then we got this one.”