Maryland Million: 5 story lines

Saturday’s Maryland Million card is, to start with, all about the wagering opportunities: there are full fields everywhere, and most races are pretty evenly matched.

But it’s also about some storylines. So here are several story lines we’ll be following on the 37th Maryland Million day October 22.

Two for the price of…

In both the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic and the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint, the last two champs are set to square off – and neither is favored.

Prendimi, Classic winner in 2021, is winless in three tries since his win in this event and is 20-1 on the morning line, while 2020 winner Monday Morning Qb is 15-1. He’s winless in five tries since that Classic and missed all of 2021. Ournationonparade, the 2019 Nursery winner, is the 5-2 favorite.

The Sprint brings together 2021 winner Air Token (8-1) and 2020 champ Karan’s Notion (12-1). The favorite is Parx ace Fortheluvofbourbon (8-5), who arrives on a five-race win streak. The only other returning champ is 2021 Turf Sprint winner Grateful Bred, who is, at 3-5, the shortest morning line price of the day.

Jockey Bingo

In the eight Maryland Million stakes, the favorites are being ridden by seven different riders.

The riders most likely to win multiple stakes include Jaime Rodriguez, theonly rider with two favorites; Jevian Toledo, Horacio Karamanos, and Sheldon Russell. All are named on at least five stakes horses, including some main contenders.

The future of Maryland racing on display

The Nursery, for two-year-olds, and the Lassie for two-year-old fillies have drawn fields of 12 and 14, respectively (excluding AEs). The Nursery field includes two runners that already own stakes wins. Paymengold (15-1) won the Henry Mercer Memorial for WV-breds at Charles Town, while Bandits Heart (15-1) won the Dover at Delaware Park. Both are longshots here, however.

Sire Power

Great Notion is the leading active sire of Maryland Million winners. He’s the pappy of 18 Million day winners, and he’s the sire of three morning line favorites this year, among them 3-5 Turf Sprint choice Grateful Bred.

He’s joined by Seville, also the sire of three morning line choices on the 12-race program. Other sires include Bandbox (2 favorites); Orientate, Blofeld, Bourbon Courage, and Cal Nation, all with one each. All but Blofeld have at least one prior Million day winner.

Drawn in

Maryland Million stakes are for Maryland-sired horses, and Maryland-breds who are not Maryland-sired are only permitted to draw in to ensure a field size of eight runners. It’s quite possible that no non-Maryland sired horses will draw in, however. In only two of the dozen races are there fewer than 10 Maryland-sired horses; those are, thus, the most likely to scratch below eight and allow the AEs in.

The Turf Sprint has eight entered, while the Distaff has nine. In both cases, scratches could let in major contenders: Can the Queen (5-2) in the Turf Sprint and Edie Meeny Miny Mo (2-1) in the Distaff.