Now that the Washington D.C. International has been discontinued, it may be time for the Maryland Million to add a turf race for older male horses to its lineup.
Two of the year's best Maryland-sired horses, Awad and Warning Glance, are Maryland Million eligibles, but there's no place for them to run on the Oct. 14 Million card.
Each horse is strictly a grass runner and won the Maryland Million Turf, limited to 3-year-olds, earlier in their careers. But now that they are older, there is no specific Maryland Million race for them to run in unless they go in the Classic on the dirt.
Maryland Million president Stuart Janney III, owner of Warning Glance, remarked last weekend at Belmont Park about the scarcity of fall grass races in Maryland for his horse, which finished ninth in Grade I company in the Man o' War Stakes.
"He [Janney] can take care of that pretty easily himself," said Pimlico/Laurel track operator Joe De Francis. "He can card a Maryland Million turf race for older horses."
When the Maryland Million was conceived 10 years ago, the race committee didn't card such a grass race because of the International. Now it seems likely that the International, and its accompanying Turf Festival races, won't be revived in Maryland anytime soon. De Francis said it's too premature to think about bringing the Festival back in 1996.
But, he added, there doesn't seem to be any real demand for it "and the way things are going, we need that [Turf Festival money] to boost purses for our overnight races."
Cigar could be Dubai-bound
After he won the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park last weekend, Bill Mott, trainer of Horse of the Year candidate Cigar, said the $4 million Dubai World Cup, set for March 27 next year, is on the schedule for the horse after a winter vacation in Florida.
If Cigar wins his next two races -- the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders' Cup Classic -- he will collect a season record of $4,819,800 for owner Allen Paulson.
If Cigar adds the Dubai Cup, worth $2.4 million to the winner, next year, he will have projected earnings of $7,489,015, enough to surpass the $6,679,242 amassed by all-time U.S. leader Alysheba.
Purse bonus safe -- for now
Pimlico/Laurel racing director Lenny Hale said that as of Sept. 10 there was a surplus of $460,000 in the tracks' purse account and that current purse bonuses -- started about four months ago -- should be able to be maintained until the end of the year.
"As for next year, we'll have to assess that as we go along," he said.
The track is currently paying about $140,000 a day in overnight purses, "an all-time high," said Wayne Wright, executive director of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "If you add in stakes and Maryland Fund money, it amounts to about $175,000 to $180,000 a day. That's unprecedented."
But, Wright said, he's less optimistic that the purse bonus can be maintained indefinitely. "We're distributing some serious money and we're not on easy street, by any means," he said.
Wright added that he's "reserving judgment until the end of September," regarding the continuation of the bonus plan. "If we get through August and September, our worst business months, without accruing a deficit, then I'll feel a lot better," he said.
Raines in Aiken, S.C.
Buddy Raines won't be making his usual fall invasion of Laurel Park. He has gone straight to his winter training headquarters at Aiken, S.C., from Monmouth Park instead of making his regular fall stop in Maryland.
During the recent Monmouth meet, Raines was kicked in the face by a horse and his stakes-winning 2-year-old gelding, Foolish Pole, was injured, eliminating a run in the Maryland Million Juvenile for owner Anderson Fowler.
Redcall out for season
Oliver Goldsmith's double Damascus Handicap winner, Redcall, injured his left ankle after winning the $100,000 stakes for the second time last weekend and won't run any more this year.
"He came back a little bit off after the race," said trainer Ron Cartwright. "Then the next day there was filling in the ankle. It's not that bad and he should be able to run again next year."