The Maryland Million spirit is everywhere these days at Laurel Race Course.
Even Cellular One, the maker of a one-minute documentary-style television commercial that will air for a year in Maryland beginning Oct. 18, was in the swing of things yesterday at the track.
Cellular One opted to use Timely Warning, winner of the Maryland Million Classic in 1990 and 1991, as the featured horse in the black-and-white commercial that follows a day in the life of a jockey and talks about a commitment to winning in relationship to the company's product.
The commercial centers on jockey Mike Luzzi and his grandfather, Virgil "Buddy" Raines, a longtime trainer. Luzzi rode Timely Warning to the 1991 victory in the Maryland Million Classic, and Raines trains the 8-year-old gelding.
There had been talk until this week of bringing back Timely Warning for Saturday's Maryland Million Classic, but Raines has decided not to and is considering retiring the horse.
At the most, Raines said he would like to get one more race out of Timely Warning.
It took two full days to film the one-minute spot that includes scenes in the jockeys' room, during the morning workouts and throughout yesterday's 10-race card.
Other jockeys in the commercial are Frank Douglas, Mark Johnston, Larry Reynolds, Tommy Turner, Walter Cullum, Steve Hamilton and Billy Moorefield.
With three horses scratched yesterday in the featured ninth race, the top attraction was reduced to a four-horse race that was won easily by Mr. Radioactive.
Mr. Radioactive, with Mark Johnston aboard, ran away to a 4 1/4 -length victory over Higher Strata.
The sentimental favorite was Got Everything who was ridden by 44-year-old Phil Grove. But Grove and his mount got left at the gate and finished last.
Prado and Elliott win two
Edgar Prado, the leading rider at the recently completed Pimlico meet, and Stewart Elliott each had two winners yesterday on opening day of the Laurel Race Course meet.
Prado rode Ragtime Dancing to a first-place finish in the first race, and came back in the sixth to win aboard Princess Pickle.
Elliott notched his two wins in the third and fourth races, guiding After While home first in the third and Blood Bath to a victory in the fourth.
Handle up, attendance down
The attendance was down but the handle was up yesterday at Laurel on the opening day of the fall meet, in comparison to the first day of the summer meet opener on June 10 at Laurel.
There were 5,425 at Laurel yesterday and they bet $674,513. On June 10, a crowd of 5,674 at Laurel bet $569,053.