The 11th running of Maryland Million Day yesterday at Laurel Park came up aces on all counts: a gorgeous autumn day, splendid racing and a down-home feel akin to a community cookout.
"You'd like to have every Saturday like Maryland Million Day," said Tim Capps, executive vice president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. "You'd like to have more special events that put the focus on racing as a fun thing to do."
A crowd of 12,603 lived it up at Laurel -- and another 5,800 at the state's off-track betting sites -- as 10 races were run for horses sired by Maryland stallions. Purses totaled $975,000 -- not $1 million as usual -- because the $25,000 Steeplechase Handicap was canceled because of soggy turf.
"What can you say? It's just a beautiful day," said Jim McKay, the ABC sportscaster from Monkton who conceived of the day for celebrating the Maryland breeding industry. "It's kind of become an old-home day for everybody in Maryland racing."
The $200,000 Classic -- won by 9-year-old Frugal Doc at 35-1 odds -- headlined the card. But there was much more.
Edgar Prado became the winningest Maryland Million jockey with three victories in three consecutive races. That increased his total to nine, one more than Julie Krone, who did not ride here yesterday, and two more than Kent Desormeaux, who did.
King of Maryland jockeys in the late 1980s, Desormeaux flew in from his California base, but flew home winless. He rode six races, but missed two more because his mounts were scratched: Latin Dancer, the highest-priced yearling ever at the Timonium sales ($210,00), because of a fever, and Venus Genus, a hard-running son of Lord Gaylord, because of an injured knee.
Prado won aboard Heavenly Punch in the $100,000 seven-furlong Distaff Handicap, Carrolls Favorite in the $100,000 seven-furlong Nursery for 2-year-olds, and The Ruler's Sister in the $100,000 1 1/8-mile Oaks.
The Ruler's Sister is a 3-year-old filly out of Horatius, who stands at Thornmar Farm in Chestertown. The winning filly is owned by brothers Clayton and John Childs and trained by Donald H. Barr. She paid $9.60 to win.
A son of Allen's Prospect owned by the Bethesda real-estate developer Eugene F. Ford and trained by H. Graham Motion, Carrolls Favorite retained his undefeated record, winning for the third time.
"I've never had such a mature 2-year-old," Motion said. "He handles everything professionally."
Heavenly Punch was one of two winning offspring by Two Punch, who stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City. A 4-year-old filly owned and trained by Canadians, Heavenly Punch had been racing at Woodbine near Toronto. He drew off in the stretch to win by 3 3/4 lengths. He paid $18.20. Churchbell Chimes, seeking her third Maryland Million win, finished fourth. The highly regarded Halo America finished a disappointing seventh.
The other victor by Two Punch was Punch Line, who captured the $100,000 six-furlong Sprint Handicap wide and driving. The 6-year-old gelding paid $6 to win.
"The old horse just keeps rolling along," said his trainer, Billy Turner.
Trained by Ben Perkins and owned by Everett Novak's New Farm in New Jersey, Lovely Tasha won the $100,000 Lassie at 10-1 odds. The 2-year-old filly is out of Private Terms, now standing in Kentucky but formerly a resident of Northview Stallion Station.
Julie's Brilliance won the $100,000 Ladies, and Trump Mahal the $100,000 Turf -- both 1 1/8 miles on the deep, soft grass.
The five-length win by Julie's Brilliance, a 4-year-old filly by Marine Brass who stands at Murmur Farm in Harford County, lifted her trainer King T. Leatherbury into a tie with J. William "Bill" Boniface for most wins (six) on Maryland Million Day. Yesterday, Boniface's entrants were winless.
In the Turf, Trump Mahal won by 2 3/4 lengths and paid $15. He is a 6-year-old gelding by Another Reef, who stands at Shamrock Farms in Woodbine.
Frank P. Wright, who shares breeding credit for Trump Mahal with his wife Ginny, who owns the horse, said it has been her dream to win a Maryland Million race and the Preakness.
"Now we've accomplished half of it," he said.
Winsox finished second, Warning Glance third and the favorite Virginia Carnival eighth. Virginia Carnival's jockey Larry Reynolds said: "When I asked him to run, there was nothing. There's always another race."
Rebuff, the 11-year-old campaigner trained by Frances Ann Merryman, was scratched from the Turf because he disdains soggy grass.
Pub Date: 10/13/96