The $150,000 Maryland Million Classic at 1-1/8 miles features six runners, including defending champion Eighttofasttocatch, last year’s runner-up Cactus Charlie and third place finisher Not Abroad plus two others who competed in the race the last two years.
“I like the spot and I’m happy with the way he’s coming into the race,” trainer Tim Keefe said. “He’s as happy and sound as he’s ever been in his entire career. If he gets beat Saturday it’s because he gets beat by a better horse.”
Eighttofasttocatch has run just three times since winning the Harrison Johnson, including a fifth place finish in the Japan Racing Association Stakes here on the grass last month.
“He’s one of my favorite horses,” said Sheldon Russell, who has ridden 16 times and will be aboard Saturday. “I was disappointed the last time we ran him on the grass. I dropped the whip or it would have been better outcome. He keeps improving and loves the big days.”
Keefe also cross-entered his star in the $100,000 Turf as a backup plan.
“It is 99.99 percent we’re going in the Classic,” added Keefe. “I wanted options because I didn’t know how this race would come up.”
Not Abroad (2-1) finished second to Regal Solo in 2010 as a three-year-old before last year’s third place finish. The son of Not For Love comes into the Classic in fine form with first or second place finishes in four of his five races this year. Nick Petro rides the colt for his brother Mike.
After his second place finish in the Classic a year ago, Cactus Charlie (4-1) has finished in the money in three of five races, but the son of Not For Love has not visited the winners’ circle. Shannon Uske is the regular rider for trainer John Tammaro IV.
Regal Warrior (8-1) was third in the 2010 Classic while in the Mike Trombetta barn then finished fifth a year ago while being conditioned by Mitch Friedman. The son of Louis Quatorze was claimed by Rick Dutrow in February but has run just once, a fifth place finish behind Eighttofasttocatch in the Harrison Johnson Stakes in mid-March. Julian Pimentel has the riding assignment.
In the Juice (12-1) has finished sixth and fourth in the last two runnings of the Classic. This year, the son of Rock Slide is winless in five starts. Wesley Ho rides the Jerry Robb trainee.
The only newcomer to the Classic is Tujoes (6-1) who comes into the race off two straight victories, including the Roanoke Stakes at Parx Racing on September 8. Angel Arroyo will ride for trainer Steve Klesaris. The son of Oratory is also entered in the $100,000 Sprint.
The Classic is the 10th race on the program with a post time of 6 p.m.