By Maryland Jockey Club Staff – Harpers First Ride, recent upset winner of the historic Pimlico Special (G3), three defending champions and a total of seven past winners are among 245 pre-entries in 12 stakes on the 35th annual Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program Saturday, Oct. 24 at Laurel Park.
Five of the races on the Maryland Million program are scheduled to be contested over Laurel’s world-class turf course, including the return of the $100,000 Turf Sprint following an eight-year absence. Entries will be taken and post positions drawn Wednesday, Oct. 21.
First race post time on Maryland Million Day is 11:25 a.m.
MCA Racing Stable’s Harpers First Ride sprung a front-running upset of favored Triple Crown-tested Owendale in the 1 3/16-mile Pimlico Special Oct. 3 at Pimlico Race Course, for his second consecutive stakes win following the 1 1/16-mile Deputed Testamony Sept. 5 at Laurel, where the 4-year-old gelding owns six wins from seven career starts for Claudio Gonzalez, Maryland’s leading trainer the past three years.
Harpers First Ride is among 16 pre-entries to the $150,000 Classic, the richest race on the Maryland Million program, for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles. Also pre-entered are defending champion Forest Fire, trained by Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner John Servis; multiple stakes winner Cordmaker, third by two necks in the 2019 Pimlico Special; Laddie Liam, unraced since winning the 2019 Maryland Juvenile Futurity last December for trainer Hugh McMahon, eight wins shy of 1,000 for his career; 2019 Heft Stakes winner Monday Morning Qb; 2019 Classic runner-up Prendimi; and 2019 Iowa Derby winner Top Line Growth, four-for-four lifetime at Laurel.
Big Bertha Stable and Stormy Stable’s Taco Supream is pre-entered to defend his title in the $100,000 Sprint for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs. Trained by Damon Dilodovico, who upset the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) with Laki Oct. 3 at Pimlico, Taco Supream was most recently sixth in the six-furlong Polynesian Sept. 5 at Laurel to Eastern Bay, beaten a nose in the De Francis and one of four Sprint pre-entrants trained by Gonzalez.
Also prominent among 24 Sprint pre-entrants are Linda Zang’s homebred Lewisfield, Maryland’s champion sprinter of 2019 and winner of the 2018 Sprint for trainer Jeff Zunco; multiple stakes winner Introduced, whose four wins from seven tries at Laurel include the 2019 Miss Disco Stakes; and multiple stakes-placed Whereshetoldmetogo.
Kevin P. Morgan’s Maryland homebred Mr. d’Angelo sprung a 17-1 upset in last year’s $100,000 Turf for 3-year-olds and up traveling 1 1/8 miles, and tops 19 pre-entries for 2020. Second by a neck in an open one-mile allowance Sept. 17 at Laurel, the 4-year-old gelding is joined by Somekindofmagician and Pretty Good Year, respectively second and third in last year’s Turf, separated by a half-length; and Nick Papagiorgio, 12-for-16 in the money at Laurel including six wins.
A total of 28 horses were pre-entered in the $100,000 Distaff for fillies and mares 3 and older sprinting seven furlongs, led by Hello Beautiful and Limited View, whose multiple stakes wins include the 2019 and 2017 Maryland Million Lassie, respectively; three-time stakes-winning 4-year-old Las Setas; Never Enough Time, winner of the Alma North at Laurel and Skipat at Pimlico in her last two starts; 2020 Delaware Oaks (G3) winner Project Whiskey; stakes winner Artful Splatter; and Coconut Cake, riding a three-race win streak; and Introduced.
The $100,000 Ladies for fillies and mares 3 and up going 1 1/8 miles on the grass received 14 pre-entries including No Mo Lady, third in the 1 1/16-mile Gallorette (G3) last out Oct. 3 at Pimlico; Artful Splatter, upset winner over Anna’s Bandit in the Geisha Stakes Jan. 20 over Laurel’s main track; Shifra Magician, who has earned all seven of her career wins on the turf and was fourth, beaten a half-length, in last year’s Maryland Million Turf Distaff Starter Handicap; and Something Magical, fourth in the 2019 Ladies.
Last run in 2012 and won in each of its final three years by late Mid-Atlantic legend Ben’s Cat, the $100,000 Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds and up going 5 ½ furlongs drew 27 pre-entries in its return, led by A Great Time, a dramatic come-from-behind winner of the five-furlong The Very One Oct. 1 at Pimlico and Mike Trombetta-trained stablemate Oldies But Goodies, winner of the 2019 Ben’s Cat Stakes sprinting on grass; and So Street, Love You Much and Joseph, respectively second, third and fifth in the 5 ½-furlong Laurel Dash Sept. 7.
Most popular among horsemen was the $100,000 Lassie for 2-year-old fillies, which attracted 31 pre-entries led by Lucky 7 Stables’ Street Lute, undefeated in two starts including the Small Wonder Stakes Sept. 26 at Delaware Park. Street Lute is also among 24 pre-entries to the $100,000 Nursery for 2-year-olds, along with Jamestown Stakes winner Kenny Had a Notion and First State Dash winner Singlino. Both the Lassie and Nursery are contested at six furlongs.
Back for the fourth straight year are the $50,000 Turf Starter Handicap for 3-year-olds and up, which drew 20 nominations including 2018 winner Barin, and $50,000 Turf Distaff Starter Handicap for fillies and mares 3 and older, both at 1 1/8 miles on the grass.
Rounding out the stakes action are the $40,000 Distaff Starter Handicap for fillies and mares 3 and older and the $40,000 Starter Handicap for 3-year-olds and up, both sprinting seven furlongs.
Edgar Prado leads all Maryland Million jockeys with 18 wins, one more than fellow Hall of Famer Ramon Dominguez. Dale Capuano and Hall of Famer King Leatherbury, who together have combined for more than 10,000 career victories, rank 1-2 among Maryland Million trainers with 11 and 10 wins, respectively.
Named for the late Hall of Fame and 13-time Emmy Award-winning broadcaster who helped launch the groundbreaking concept in 1986, the Jim McKay Maryland Million has evolved into the second-biggest day on the state’s racing calendar behind only the Preakness Stakes (G1). ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’ celebrates the stallions who stand in the state as well as a rich and diverse racing history that dates back to the founding of the Maryland Jockey Club in 1743.