Million staff keeps eyes on sky and turf track Bets are rain won't halt 3 grass races Laurel notebook


Unless there is substantial rainfall, the three turf events on today's Maryland Million card at Laurel Race Course probably will remain on the grass.

Track superintendent John Passero said yesterday that weather forecasts indicated "a slight chance of light showers. We don't think they're going to affect anything."

Scheduled for the grass are the $25,000 Maryland Million Juvenile Turf, $100,000 Maryland Million Turf and the $125,000 Maryland Million Ladies.

"The worst thing that can happen is rain during the races," said Passero. "The water comes to rest on top [of the grass] in that case. The jockeys don't like that situation. But the minute it stops raining, the water starts settling in.

"So if it rains during the night and ends before the events themselves, we'll be all right."

Prado to ride today

The leading rider in the Maryland jockey colony, Edgar Prado, took off his four scheduled mounts yesterday because of flu-like symptoms.

But Prado is expected to return today for the Million card, said his agent, Steve Rushing.

"He's had a touch of it all week," said Rushing. "The forecast was for rain [yesterday], which we didn't get. He figured if he rode and got wet, he might get sicker. It was more or less precautionary."

Prado is taking medication for a sore throat and congestion and could have ridden yesterday.

Omar Klinger picked up a winner (Native Northrop in the second) on one of Prado's scheduled mounts and two others hit the board -- Greyful Girl (second with Stewart Elliott up in the first) and Afflying (third with Freddy Castillo aboard in the fifth).

Prado is listed to ride in every race today except the Million Juvenile Turf and the Steeplechase Handicap. His only two Million victories came last year on Brilliant Brass in the Distaff and Silent Testamony in the Maiden Turf.


Next Saturday's $100,000 Selima Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf has drawn New York-based Chelsey Flower, who won the Grade III Miss Grillo Stakes at Belmont Park last weekend. That race was at the same distance as the Selima. Chelsey Flower is a granddaughter of the great Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner in 1978. She is unbeaten on the grass. . . . David Sipe and Patrick Dunning will begin 15-day suspensions this weekend after horses they trained tested positively for excessive levels of phenylbutazone (bute) after winning races last month. . . . A two-hour Maryland Million special will air today at 4 p.m. on Home Team Sports.

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