LAUREL PARK — Saturday was Maryland Million Day, designed to showcase the progeny of Maryland stallions. There were 12 races, eight stakes and four starter stakes, on the Laurel Park card.
Nearly a dozen runners bred in Kent County — representing Dance Forth Farm (veterinarian Dr. Tom Bowman and his wife Chris Bowman), Thornmar Farm (Charles and Cynthia McGinnes) and Buckingham Farm (the late Elizabeth “Binnie” Houghton) — competed for various titles on dirt and turf, led by Monday Morning Qb.
The Bowman-bred captured the penultimate race, the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic for 3-year-olds and up at one-mile and one-eighth on the main track.
Monday Morning Qb (Sheldon Russell), the lone 3-year-old in the race, was dismissed as the 6-1 fourth choice —although he had run second in the Federico Tesio Stakes in his last local outing on the main track.
When the gates opened, Prendimi broke well along the rail to gain command passing the wire the first time, with Monday Morning Qb just off his flank entering the clubhouse turn. Also, 4-5 favorite Harpers First Ride, hero of the Grade III Pimlico Special in his most recent outing, was reserved well off the pace.
Prendimi and Monday Morning Qb set an honest tempo early, getting the opening quarter in 23.1 and the half in 46.4.
Midway down the backside, Monday Morning Qb surged to command and then awaited the late bids from Harpers First Ride and Cordmaker. But neither of them ever threatened the talented sophomore.
Under modest urging from Russell in the lane, Monday Morning Qb held safe Harpers First Ride for a four-length score while stopping the timer in 1 minute, 48.13 seconds for the nine furlongs — the fastest time since the race was moved to its current distance in 2009.
The Classic was run at 1 ¼ miles from 1986 to 1992 and 1 3/6 miles from 1993 to 2008.
Trainer Robert E. “Butch” Reid Jr. pocketed his second win in four starts this year.
Monday Morning Qb, the 3-year-old son of Imagining bred by the Bowman & Higgins Stable and Cary Frommer, now owns a 3-2-0 slate and $225,000 banked from seven career tries.
Several races earlier in the $100,000 Maryland Million Nursery for 2-year-old males traveling six furlongs on the main track, Alwaysinahurry rallied from well off the pace to finish second, beaten five lengths.
The juvenile son of Great Notion is trained by Dale Capuano and bred by the Bowmans.
He now owns a 1-3-1 slate and $64,000 banked from six career tries.
There were three juveniles with local ties entered in the $100,000 Maryland Million Lassie for 2-year-old fillies contesting the one-turn sprint distance.
Street Lute, sent out as the 6-5 favorite for trainer John “Jerry” Robb of Little Bold John fame, finished a sharp second behind Miss Nondescript who rallied widest of all late to edge the choice by a neck in 1:10.15.
A Bowman-bred daughter of Street Magician out of a Midnight Lute mare, Street Lute suffered her first setback in three career outings after two scores at Delaware Park, including the Small Wonder Stakes last month.
One race earlier in the Maryland Million Ladies on the turf, two of the three local products were able to earn minor spoils. Masala, the 7-2 second choice, saved ground throughout and rallied to finish third, a length better than Little Lion Girl. Both fillies were bred by the Bowmans and both ran respectably.
Something Magical, the 2-1 favorite and another Bowman-bred, faded after prompting the early pace.
In the Maryland Million starter handicap on dirt for fillies and mares, I Love You pressed favored Odd Gal on the far turn then gave way late and settled for third in a good effort. The 4-year-old daughter of Seville was bred by Buckingham Farm and trained by A. Ferris Allen III.
A consistent sort, I Love You owns a 1-1-3 slate from eight starts this year and a 3-1-7 slate and nearly $100,000 banked from 18 career outings.
In Saturday’s opener, the Maryland Million starter for fillies and mares, Brushing rallied from well off the pace to finish second with a strong late bid along the rail in the lane. The 5-year-old Hunters Bay mare is trained by Bernie Dunham and bred by the Bowmans.
Brushing had won her two previous starts at Mountaineer Park before running second on Saturday.
She owns a 4-1-1 slate and $45,000 banked from seven starts this year and sports a 7-4-2 slate and bankroll of more than $145,000 from 32 career tries.
NOTES: Sheldon Russell captured the $50,000 Starter Handicap with trainer Dale Capuano’s Jumpstartmyheart in the opener and went on to wins in the $100,000 Distaff with Hello Beautiful, trained by his wife Brittany, and $100,000 Turf with Pretty Good Year.
The number of spectators permitted for the 35th Jim McKay Maryland Million Day was capped at 250, compared to the 20,000 or so typically on hand.