Maryland Million by the numbers
You couldn’t have ordered up better weather for Maryland Million day, and you couldn’t have ordered up fuller fields or more competitive races. The day’s dozen races averaged more than 11 starters per.
Here’s the day by the numbers:
Pour One for Johnyz:
Flashy Nursery winner Johnyz From Albany had one of the day’s better backstories. The Blofeld gelding romped home five lengths clear under jockey Jorge Ruiz.
He’s named for owner-breeder Chip Reed’s sometime horse-owning partner Mike Zanella’s late brother, who passed away recently.
“Every year that we would come up to Saratoga, he would pick us up at the airport and had New York subs for us, and beer,” Reed remembered. “And he stayed with us the whole time. Unfortunately, he died, I guess it’s two years ago, and we named this one after him.”
Johnyz From Albany is out of the Oratory mare Monster Sleeping, who won two Maryland Million races for Reed.
A two-year plan
Wicked Prankster’s victory in the Maryland Million Turf was no accident, according to owner-trainer Sam Davis. In fact, said Davis, “It’s like a dream that come in full circle.”
Wicked Prankster had won an allowance just six days prior to the Turf, but the Maryland Million had always – and we mean always – been the goal.
“I’ve been planning on this race for like two years,” Davis said. “I’ve told all my friends that this horse is going to win this race.”
Davis had claimed Wicked Prankster out of his debut in September 2020. The Mosler gelding, two at the time, finished second that day, and Davis immediately had high hopes.
“I thought, ‘He’s gotta be worth $25,000,’” Davis recalled. “So I just coughed up my last and claimed him.”
Offspring of young sire Blofeld, standing at Murmur Farm, have been putting up some pretty spectacular numbers. His progeny are winning at a staggering 22% clip overall and 25% in 2022.
But what he hadn’t done – until Saturday – was throw a stakes winner. Now you can check that box – twice.
Johnyz From Albany was the first Blofeld-sired stakes winner, scoring easily in the Nursery. And four races later, Chickieness swept up outside to the win Lassie, giving Blofeld a clean sweep of the two two-year-old races.
Bandbox, sire of Ladies winner Coconut Cake and Starter Handicap winner The Wolfman, was the only other sire to post two wins.[Story continues below gallery]
Three for the money
Three jockeys won twice each on Maryland Million day, with Jaime Rodriguez best of all.
Rodriguez won a pair of races on Jamie Ness trainees, including Classic winner Ournationonparade and Lassie winner Chickieness. The former, in particular, impressed, laying waste to what seemed to be a pretty evenly matched field with a 5 3/4-length win that suggested he might be able to contend with open stakes company.
Paco Lopez also won a pair, as did Jorge Ruiz.
Lopez picked up the Turf Sprint mount on Sky’s Not Falling from the injured Victor Carrasco and turned that into a half-length triumph as the second choice in the field of eight, and he also piloted Fortheluvofbourbon to a popular win in the Sprint.
Ruiz won back-to-back races mid-card, aboard Johnyz From Albany in the Nursery and aboard favored Mavilus, who rallied from 15 lengths back to win the Distaff Starter Handicap.
11 is not the loneliest number
Eleven different trainers won at least one race on the card. Jamie Ness, who won the Lassie (Chickieness) and Classic (Ournationonparade), was the only one to double up.
Among those to score were longtime local stalwarts Greg Wilson, who got his first win of the year when Beltway Bob upset the Turf Starter; Sam Davis, scoring his fourth 2022 win in the Turf with Wicked Prankster; and Linda Albert, whose Pounding Music won the Turf Distaff Starter to close out the card.
15 trips to the winner’s circle.
Maryland Million’s all-time leading trainer Dale Capuano made his 15th trip to the winner’s circle when Johnyz From Albany won the Nursery. Capuano’s first Maryland Million winner came with Foxie G in 1995, and he also won two Million races with Johnyz From Albany’s dam, Monster Sleeping.
Capuano has a five-win lead over King Leatherbury and Michael Trombetta, who each have 10 Million wins. Trombetta earned his 10th Saturday, when Sky’s Not Falling won the Turf Sprint.
John Robb moved into sole possession of third place with nine wins after Fille d’Esprit scored in the Distaff.
50 thousand reasons
That might seem like a lot of money to claim a horse, but when that horse turns around and earns $82,500 in his first start, a few weeks later, it looks like a bargain.
Ournationonparade won the Classic Saturday 24 days after having been claimed for $50,000 at Churchill Downs.
“We went to a five-way shake,“ said trainer Jamie Ness said. “So, a 20 percent chance to get the horse, and we got lucky and got him… I think the other people we were shaking with were local [Maryland] people who wanted to do the same thing,”
Happy Got Lucky Stable Inc. owns the Cal Nation gelding, who won his second Maryland Million race, to go with his 2019 Nursery triumph.
That was the approximate wagering handle for Saturday’s Maryland Million card — $5,585,969 to be exacta. That was off about 7% from 2021, when handle topped $6 million. It was the fourth highest handle in the last 15 years.