The 34th running of the Maryland Million is Saturday at Laurel Park, the brainchild of legendary sports broadcaster Jim McKay, who passed away in 2008.
This year’s event features purses of over $1 million on the 12-race card that gets underway at noon eastern.
The marquee event on the day for Maryland sired horses is the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic which drew 11 along with three also-eligibles.
Clubman, a six-time winner over the Laurel Park main track is the 2-1 morning line favorite. The gelding will break from the four post with Julian Pimentel in the irons.
The gelding makes his third start in the Classic after checking in fourth in 2017 and third last year.
“He has run great in this race the last two years,” said his trainer Rodolfo Sanchez-Salomon said. “He is doing great. We’ve got a really good shot in there. Hopefully, we get a little bit lucky and get a good trip and win the race.”
The defending champion is the Katie Voss trained Saratoga Bob (9-2), who will be making his first start since June.
“A couple weeks ago I worked him gate to wire out of the starting gate and then, when it looked like we were heading to the Classic, I went ahead and worked him a mile last Saturday,” Voss said. “He’s doing well. He’s a decent work horse, [but] getting a race under his belt would have made a big difference.”
One to look for the John Servis trainee Forest Fire (6-1), who is coming off back to back wins at Parx Racing and has won six of his 12 career starts.
“He came up with a little issue last year and we had to stop on him. Then we brought him back and just thought that maybe he didn’t come back the same, but actually there was another issue that we had to address,” Servis said. “We got that straightened out and he came back and knocked out two wins, back to back. He’s back on track and doing good.”
Let’s head out to Laurel Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Laurel Park Race 10 The Maryland Million Classic Post time 4:30 ET
7 Forest Fire 6-1
8 Tappin Cat 10-1
1 Saratoga Bob 9-2
11 Torch of Truth 6-1
The John Servis trainee is coming off back to back wins against Pennsylvania bred optional claimers with his top two career speed figs. Last out he set the early fractions and battled on gamely in the stretch to prevail by a neck going a mile. He has won half of his dozen starts but will attempt to get nine furlongs for the first time here. He has a win and a second over the main track here, running second in the Private Terms last March. He gets a jock upgrade to Lopez and looks as if he should be able to handle the extra ground, by Friesen Fire out of a Forestry mare.
This gelding is coming off a sharp win against $25,000 starter allowance foes last out at Delaware Park going six furlongs. His only trip beyond six panels was a runner up finish here in June against Maryland bred or sired runners. The winner and third place finisher came out of that race to win next out. He is by Tritap out of a Broken Vow mare, a decent enough pedigree to handle nine furlongs. The Capuano barn is 17% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from sprint to route. Looks as if this guy is going to be a decent price here in a wide-open race.
The Voss trainee won this race last year at 7-2 but has won just once in seven starts since. The gelding has not run since a fifth against Alw-3 optional claimers on turf in June. The Voss barn is showing a 2 for 18 mark with runners coming back off a 61-180-day layoff dating back five years. His win in this race last year was his first trip at nine furlongs. The gelding has done his best work over the main track here, landing in the money in 10 of his 14 trips. He worked seven furlongs and then a mile in his last two works and should be fit enough to handle nine furlongs off the bench.