Md Million: Heldish looking to deliver special win

Already holding a special place for his connections, ItsTheJHo’s Heldish gets the chance to add another chapter to the story in Saturday’s $100,000 Maryland Million Nursery at Laurel Park.

The Nursery for 2-year-olds and $100,000 Lassie for fillies, both sprinting six furlongs, are among eight stakes and four starter stakes on the 37th Jim McKay Maryland Million program, ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’ celebrating the progeny of stallions standing in the state.

Doors open at 10 a.m. EST with a first-race post time of 11:30 a.m. Headlining the card is the $150,000 Classic for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles featuring the past two winners in Prendimi and Monday Morning Qb and program favorite Ournationonparade, the 2019 Nursery winner.

ItsTheJHo’s Justin Horowitz purchased Heldish for $40,000 out of Fasig-Tipton’s Eastern Fall Yearling sale last October at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium – the first horse he ever owned. When the Great Notion colt graduated in debut July 1 at Laurel, it was both Horowitz’s first win and the first for jockey Sheldon Russell in his return from 296 days away due to injury.

“We’ve liked this horse from the beginning. I feel like everybody that’s been around this horse has liked him,” trainer Brittany Russell said. “I think he’s a pretty handy horse. He’s just kind of done everything right all along the way. From a 2-year-old standpoint he’s really progressed and taken everything so well and come along so well. It’s fun to be in this position with him.”

Heldish ran second by a half-length as the favorite in his second start, the five-furlong Hickory Tree Aug. 9 at Colonial Downs. He was taken out of his comfort zone last out when he hit the gate and found himself behind horses for the first time in a six-furlong optional claiming allowance Sept. 10 at historic Pimlico Race Course but got up late to be second.

“When he gets away well, he will be close. He didn’t get away well last time so Sheldon went to Plan B. He might always get away well so you need to find out if he can be a little bit versatile, and he showed that he can be. I think he ran really well considering the circumstances,” Russell said. “He’s been working regularly. He had a really nice work the other day, so we’re very happy where we are with him.”

Heldish is 4-1 on the morning line and will have Brittany Russell’s husband Sheldon in the irons. Lost Weekend for trainer Dale Capuano is the 3-1 morning line favorite.