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38th Jim McKay Maryland Million Attracts 281 Pre-Entries
Defending Champ Ournationonparade Among 21 in $150K Classic
Laurel to Host ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’ Saturday, Oct. 14
BALTIMORE – Six defending champions, five prior winners and five past Maryland-bred champions are among 281 pre-entries in eight stakes and four starter stakes on the 38th annual Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program Saturday, Oct. 14 at Laurel Park.
Five races on the groundbreaking Maryland Million program are scheduled for the turf. Entries will be taken and post positions drawn Sunday, Oct. 8. Post time on Maryland Million Day is 11:30 a.m.
The richest race on the program, the $150,000 Classic going 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds and up, drew 28 pre-entries led by Morris Kernan Jr., Yo Berbs and Jagger Inc.’s defending champion Ournationonparade, whose victory came first off the claim for trainer and co-owner Jamie Ness. The 6-year-old gelding has been third or better in eight of nine subsequent starts.
Ournationonparade also won the Maryland Million Nursery in 2019. Only seven horses have won three Maryland Million races –Ben’s Cat, a 2023 inductee into Maryland’s Hall of Fame, Countus In, Docent, Eighttofasttocatch, Hello Beautiful, Mz. Zill Bear and Hall of Famer Safely Kept.
Docent (2002-03) and Eighttofasttocatch (2011, 2013-14) are also among just five horses to win back-to-back Classics, along with Timely Warning (1990-91), Algar (1997-98) and Admirals War Chest (2015-16).
Also prominent among Classic pre-entries are Grade 3 winner Double Crown, exiting an upset victory in the Sept. 10 Polynesian at Laurel; Tappin Cat, who has run in the race three times previously including a second in 2021 and a third in 2019, and fellow multiple stakes-winning stablemate Malibu Beauty, the lone female; and stakes winners Hello Hot Rod and Super Accelerate.
Eight Maryland-bred horses are pre-entered including Joe, Maryland’s champion 2-year-old male of 2021 and 3-year-old male of 2022 that is a stakes winner on turf and dirt but has not raced since June 17; and Post Time, the champion 2-year-old male of 2022 that is undefeated in four starts including the 2022 Maryland Juvenile and his Sept. 22 comeback start at historic Pimlico Race Course.
Horses that are Maryland-bred but not Maryland-sired may only participate in a Maryland Million race if less than eight Maryland Million-eligible horses are entered.
Defending champion Wicked Prankster is one of 26 pre-entries in the $125,000 Turf for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles, along with Street Copper, Crabs N Beer and Johng, who respectively ran 2-3-4 in last year’s race. Fletcher, third in the June 2 Penn Mile (G2) in his turf debut; 2022 Find winner Nick Papagiorgio; Wish Me Home and The Addison Pour, separated by a neck when third and fourth behind Field Pass in the 2023 Find, are also pre-entered.
The $125,000 Ladies for filles and mares 3 and up scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the grass attracted 18 pre-entries including defending champion Coconut Cake and Amplio Esquema, who ran third; 2020 Ladies winner Gennie Highway; Maryland-bred Gold Digging Broad, promoted winner of Laurel’s Aug. 19 All Brandy; all-weather stakes winner Maldives Model; Malibu Beauty and Proper Storm, winner of the one-mile Jersey Girl Handicap on the Monmouth Park turf July 8.
Most popular among horsemen with 29 pre-entries is the $100,000 Turf Sprint, a 5 ½-furlong dash for 3-year-olds and up. The group includes defending champion Sky’s Not Falling; Witty, who defeated Sky’s Not Falling in the five-furlong Ben’s Cat Sept. 16 at Pimlico; 2021 Turf Sprint winner Grateful Bred; Maryland-bred B Determined, winner of the 2021 Maryland Million Turf Starter Handicap; 2022 Maryland Million Nursery Johnyz From Albany; 2022 Ben’s Cat winner Justwaveandsmile, a Maryland-bred; Showtime Cat, third in the 2022 Turf Sprint; and dirt stakes winners Bandits Heart, a half to retired multiple stakes winner Anna’s Bandit, and Cynergy’s Star.
Johnyz From Albany is also among 26 pre-entries in the $100,000 Sprint for 3-year-olds and up going six furlongs, along with multiple stakes winners Coastal Mission, riding a five-race win streak, and Twisted Ride; Feb. 18 General George (G3) winner Eastern Bay, a Maryland-bred; Heldish, runner-up in the 2022 Nursery; Holy Synchronicity, third in the July 29 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash; Bandits Heart, Cynergy’s Star, Hello Hot Rod and Post Time.
The $100,000 Distaff for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting seven furlongs has 23 pre-entries led by defending champion Fille d’Esprit, who was voted Maryland’s champion older female, sprinter and Horse of the Year in 2022. Also notable among pre-entries are Luna Belle, Maryland’s champion 2-year-old filly in 2021 and 3-year-old filly in 2022 and a five-time stakes winner that hasn’t raced since last May’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2); Malibu Beauty; Malibu Moonshine, a two-time Laurel stakes winner that was Maryland’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2022; and 2022 Maryland Million Distaff Starter Handicap winner Mavilus.
Juveniles will be in the spotlight in the $100,000 Nursery for 2-year-olds and $100,000 Lassie for 2-year-old fillies, both sprinting six furlongs and each drawing 26 pre-entries. The Nursery includes eight last-out winners and multiple stakes-placed Maryland-bred Call Me Andy, while the Lassie is topped by undefeated Just Great and stakes-placed Remember Me.
Back for the seventh straight year are the $50,000 Turf Starter Handicap for 3-year-olds and up and $50,000 Turf Distaff Starter Handicap for fillies and mares 3 and older, both scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the grass. Rounding out the stakes action are the $40,000 Starter Handicap for 3-year-olds and up and $40,000 Distaff Starter Handicap for fillies and mares 3 and older, each sprinting seven furlongs.
Edgar Prado leads all Maryland Million jockeys with 18 wins, one more than fellow retired Hall of Famer Ramon Dominguez. Jeremy Rose is tops among active riders with 15 wins.
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 15 and 10 wins, respectively. Sky’s Not Falling moved Michael Trombetta into a tie for second with 10 wins.
Great Notion, Maryland’s leading sire since 2016 based at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City, Md., has produced at least one Maryland Million winner for 13 consecutive years, a streak continued by Fille d’Esprit in 2022. Represented by 23 pre-entries, his 19 wins rank third behind Not For Love (37) and Allen’s Prospect (22).
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.