Lookback: 10 key 2022 stories in Maryland racing

We’re fast approaching the end of the 2022 racing season in Maryland. After the covid-impacted season of 2020, and the Laurel Park track issues which plagued the 2021 campaign, 2022 marked the first “normal” season of racing in Maryland in three years.

Here, we’ll take a look back at some of the biggest stories in Maryland racing in 2022.

Early Voting Wins Preakness

In 2017, owner Seth Klarman and trainer Chad Brown teamed up to win the Preakness with Cloud Computing, who bypassed the Kentucky Derby to stay fresh, won the Preakness, and never won again. Five years later, the same exact strategy worked again, as Early Voting pressed the pace and held on to win the Preakness by 1 ¼ lengths on a hot May afternoon. Jose Ortiz had the winning mount, for his first career Preakness win. Derby runner-up Epicenter went off as the favorite, and rallied from behind to get second. The final time for 1 3/16 miles was 1:54.54.

Early Voting ran twice more and then was retired.

Dominance of Luna Belle

This Maryland-bred daughter of Great Notion made waves at the Laurel Park winter and spring meets, sweeping her way to five consecutive stakes victories from December through April. This season she won the Xtra Heat, the Wide Country, the Beyond the Wire, and the Weber City Miss by a combined 17 lengths, leaving every other Maryland-based 3-year-old filly in her wake.

A homebred for Deborah Greene and trainer Hammy Smith, her season ended with an 11th-place effort in the George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan. She returned to the worktab in August but was sidelined by bone bruising a few weeks later. Nonetheless, she appears well on her way to the title of champion Maryland-bred 3-year-old filly.

Cordmaker takes General George

Local fan favorite Cordmaker concluded his 2021 season with back-to-back wins in the Richard W. Small and the Robert T. Manfuso. His 2022 campaign started on a promising note, with a victory against fellow Maryland-breds in the Jennings on Jan. 29. 

That race set him up well for the Grade 3 General George on Feb. 19. Sent off as the 11-10 favorite, he rated off the pace and got up to win by three-quarters of a length for his first graded stakes win. Cordmaker took the summer and fall off, but returned to the races in November and earned millionaire status with a third-place finish in this year’s Richard W. Small on Nov. 26.

Emergence of Jeiron Barbosa

Originally based in his native Puerto Rico, Barbosa began riding in Maryland in late March and made an instant impression. The 18-year-old won with his first two Laurel mounts on March 24, and went on to capture the riding title at the spring meet with 20 wins in 76 starts.

Proving it was no fluke, Barbosa won the riding title at the Pimlico fall meet, with 12 wins from 44 mounts, and is on his way to capturing the fall title at the Laurel fall meet, with 44 wins from 257 rides as of Dec. 28. He’s sure to get consideration for the champion apprentice Eclipse award.



Sheldon Russell’s winning return

On Sept. 9 of last year, Russell suffered a Lisfranc injury in his right foot when he was unseated from his mount in the post parade. The injury required surgery and sidelined one of Maryland’s leading riders for months. In April, he returned to galloping horses and seemed close to a comeback, but broke his collarbone and was sidelined for several more weeks. 

On July 1, Russell made his long-awaited return to the races, riding Maryland-bred 2-year-old Heldish for his wife Brittany, the horse’s trainer. Sent off as the 9-10 favorite, Heldish broke on top and won easily by 2 ¼ lengths. As of Dec. 28, Russell has 34 wins on the year from 228 mounts on the year, with purse earnings of $2,073,265.

Opening of MHLEC

On Dec. 16, the Maryland Horse Breeders Association hosted the long-awaited grand opening of its library and education center, located at 321 Main Street in Reisterstown. The center features a reference library featuring more than 5,000 volumes, a spacious meeting space, media and research rooms, and a memorabilia section. 

Numerous local officials were on hand for the opening festivities, including Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones, Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr, and Councilman Julian Jones Jr.

The library will be open 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visit marylandhorse.com/library to learn more.

Ournationonparade wins Maryland Million Classic

Ournationonparade put his name in the Maryland Million history books on Oct. 22, when he became the second horse to win the Nursery and the Classic in his career. The 2019 Nursery winner, bred by John Williamson III, was claimed for $50,000 by Jamie Ness at Churchill Downs in September, with this spot in mind. 

It proved a wise claim, as the son of Cal Nation won by 5 ¾ lengths under Jaime Rodriguez after rating off the pace. He was the second winner of the day trained by Ness; his homebred Chickieness took home the Lassie. 

One spirited lady

A $10,000 claim two years ago by C J I Phoenix Group and No Guts No Glory Farm, this Maryland-bred daughter of Great Notion had a breakthrough season in 2022, winning five stakes races as of Dec. 27. Three of those wins came at Laurel, as she took the Conniver on Mar. 19, the Maryland Million Distaff on Oct. 22, and the Politely on Nov. 26. 

She also won the Susquehanna Valley at Penn National on June 17 and Colonial Downs’s Seeking the Pearl on Aug. 16. It was a busy campaign which saw the Jerry Robb trainee register five additional stakes placings and earn $414,055. 

Interstatedaydream wins Black-Eyed Susan

The George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan on May 20 drew a field of 13 3-year-old fillies. Brad Cox trainee Interstatedaydream, sent off as the 6-1 third choice, stalked the pace on the outside and took charge late to win by 1 ¼ lengths under Florent Geroux. She covered 1 ⅛ miles in 1:48.73 for owner Flurry Racing Stables LLC and went on to win the Indiana Oaks later in the year. 

Dale Capuano announces retirement

One of the biggest stories of the year came in just under the wire, as one of Maryland’s preeminent trainers announced his retirement, effective Jan. 1. Dale Capuano began training in 1981, and went on to win more than 3,600 races with $68 million in purse earnings. He led Maryland in wins eight times, with a total of 31 meet titles, and finished in the top three in wins in Maryland every year from 1991 to 2006. 

Among his most notable horses were 2007 Maryland-bred Horse of the Year Heros Reward, Just Call Me Carl, In the Curl, Miss Mischief, and Wind Splitter. Capuano’s stable, which currently includes stakes winners Alwaysinahurry, Vance Scholars, Justwaveandsmile, and Johnyz From Albany, will be transferred to his nephew, Phillip.