Md Million: Trainer Dale Capuano hoping to hold lead “for a while”

Md Million: Trainer Dale Capuano hoping to hold lead “for a while”

This Saturday afternoon when Laurel Park hosts the 37th edition of the Jim McKay Maryland Million, longtime local conditioner Dale Capuano will seek to pad his lead on the wins list. Capuano, who has saddled 14 Maryland Million winners, has entered nine Million day runners, with eight in the main body of races and one an also-eligible.

Capuano, whose 14 Million wins are four more than King Leatherbury has recorded, said that he has been a little under the weather throughout the week. But it has not deterred him from normal work regimen.

On Saturday afternoon, Capuano could potentially saddle as many as nine runners, some of which he is hoping will provide him with a winner or two to pad his lead among Maryland Million Day conditioners over Leatherbury and Mike Trombetta (9).

“I am just hoping that by Saturday I will be feeling much better and we can have a couple of winners,” said Capuano, who has saddled 43 winners this year and 3,641 in his career. “Maryland Million Day is such a great day for the horsemen and the owners and everyone involved in Maryland racing. I am hoping that some of my clients have a little luck on Saturday. This is really the main event of the year for Maryland trainers, owners and breeders. I am just hoping to win a couple and stay ahead of Trombetta for a while.”

Capuano’s eight main-body entries are the most of any trainer. Trombetta and Tim Keefe have entered six apiece.

Like most trainers with runners on Saturday, Capuano is hoping to put the finishing touches on the day with a victory in the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic courtesy of Vance Scholars. The son of Holy Boss was a gritty third in the Japan Turf Cup last out, switched from the turf to the main track amid heavy rains. Three of his last four starts have been off-the-turf stakes, including a win in the Bald Eagle Derby August 6.

“He ran a huge race last time out,” Capuano said. “He set all of the early fractions and lasted a lot longer than the other horses that pressed the pace with him. He’s been training well since then and I expect that he will run well [on Saturday]. The other horses in there are going to know that he’s in there, that’s for sure.”

Vance Scholars is 9-2 on the morning line and will have regular pilot Jorge Ruiz in the irons.

Vance Scholars
Vance Scholars won the Bald Eagle Derby. Photo Jerry Dzierwinski.

Two races earlier, Capuano is hoping to finally find the winners’ circle with Cannon’s Roar in the nine-furlong, $125,000 Maryland Million Turf. The eight-year-old Orientate gelding has earned over $300,000 in his career but is working on a 12-race losing skein.

Cannon’s Roar was second in last year’s edition of the Turf as the 2-1 favorite and will be making his fourth consecutive appearance in the event. Although winless in five starts this year, Cannon’s Road has won five times in 31 tries at Laurel and finished in the money on 16 other occasions.

It will actually be Cannon’s Roar’s fifth Maryland Million start. He also ran fourth in a Maryland Million starter event in 2018.

“He’s always been close, but no cigar,” Capuano said. “At age eight, maybe this will be his year. The last horse I remember having like that was In The Curl. She kept running second to Safely Kept  and she made six or seven starts on Maryland Million Day and could never win one. We’re hoping that this will be his year. There’s not many horses that keep coming back for the Million each year.”

In addition to saddling several veteran campaigners on the card, Capuano will also send out a pair of two-year-olds in the Maryland Million Nursery for boys and another in the Maryland Million Lassie for fillies. 

His entrants the Nursery, Lost Weekend (3-1) and Johnyz From Albany (7-2) are the top two choices in the morning line, and both graduated at first asking against maiden special weight company. Skylar’s Sister, a winner on the turf at first asking, has been third and seventh in two stakes at Delaware Park and is listed at 15-1 on the morning line for the Lassie.

“They’re both coming into it really well,” Capuano said of his two juveniles in the Nursery. “Lost Weekend won his first start then was second in the stakes at Delaware Park, and he came out of it great. Johnyz From Albany also won his first start and he has run okay in those two allowance races since then. They’re both doing really well in the mornings, and I expect them both to run well [on Saturday]. I was happy with where they both drew.”