Before Algar successfully defended his title in the Maryland Million Classic yesterday, Winsox captured the Turf for the second straight year.
Winsox bolted into the lead under jockey Edgar Prado and never looked back, winning the 1 1/8 -mile race by 1 3/4 lengths. Winsox's victory at even money gave his trainer, Bill Boniface, his seventh Maryland Million winner. No trainer has more.
And Winsox also pushed his sire, Bonita Farm's Deputed Testamony, into the lead for sires of Maryland Million winners -- into the lead for two races, that is. When Algar won the Classic, he kept his sire, Horatius, apace Deputed Testamony. They've both sired nine Maryland Million winners.
"He's like a fine wine," Boniface said of the 7-year-old Winsox. "He gets better with age."
Boniface attended the birth of the Maryland Million in 1986, when Jim McKay came up with the idea of a day of races for Maryland-sired horses. It became so successful that 13 other states copied it. Yesterday was the 13th Maryland Million.
"It's become a warm-feeling kind of day," Boniface said. "It's achieved the flavor we'd hoped for at the beginning -- a real Maryland day of racing."
Maragold Princess, ridden by Prado, became the day's third repeat winner, although her victory a year ago was in the Lassie.
Her owner, Michael Cascio, flew in from Bermuda. The 4-year-old filly's trainer, Todd Pletcher, based at Belmont Park, did not make the trip.
"This is our only horse," Cascio said. "You're looking at the full arsenal. We've had more fun with this horse."
Said his wife, Anna: "It's wonderful -- just the moment, the winning, the friends."
Maragold Princess was sired by Smartan, as was Greenspring Willy, won the Sprint with a powerful late surge. At the head of the stretch, eight horses side-by-side charged for the wire.
Ridden by Larry Reynolds, Greenspring Willy is trained by Dick Dutrow, who wasn't at Laurel Park, but his son, Tony said: "Just say he did a terrific job with this horse."
Alvin Akman, spokesman for the seven businessmen who own the 3-year-old as Post Time 96, gave credit to the Dutrows and Reynolds.
"The jock gets a big number for this race," said Akman, the retired president of a union. "He took him through there."
Added Reynolds: "This was a great victory, and I want to dedicate it to Mr. Dutrow."
After failing twice to win a Maryland Million race, Weather Vane dominated eight competitors, winning by three lengths.
The day's only odds-on favorite, Weather Vane at 3-5 darted into the lead and was never challenged. She carried 124 pounds, more than any other horse on the Maryland Million card.
"She raced her race today," said one of her owners, Pete Dillon. "The only thing I was worried about was the 124 pounds."
Weather Vane has won 16 of 34 races. And 13 of her wins were stakes. She has earned nearly $700,000.
"She's one of the quickest horses I've ever been on," said her jockey, Mario Pino.
H. Graham Motion was the only trainer with more than one winner, and he won the Ladies with a 6-year-old mare he thought had no chance.
Lonesome Sound stormed home from 10th in a field of 12 to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Motion didn't think she'd like the soft turf. He had entered her in a race Tuesday night at the Meadowlands, but scratched her when it came off the turf.
When Ken Tomlinson learned that, he said: "Yes! We'll take him to the Million."
Tomlinson owns the mare with his wife, Rebecca, in the name of Sandy Bayou Stables.
Mario Verge rode Lonesome Sound for one of his two Maryland Million victories.
Motion also saddled the easy winner of the Starter Handicap, the 5-year-old gelding Main Quest. Prado rode for Helen and Mike Ueltzen, who live in Virginia.
"Between Edgar Prado and Graham Motion," Mike Ueltzen said, "we've got a winning combination."
The second victory for the jockey Verge came with Pulling Punches. Making his third start, the 2-year-old son of Two Punch challenged for the lead, fell back around the far turn and then rallied on the outside to win by 1 3/4 lengths.
Michael Moran trains the horse at Fair Hill for his mother, Betty Moran, who races as Brushwood Stable. A resident of Malvern, Pa., she owned Creme Fraiche, who won two Jockey Club Gold Cups, and 40 percent of Colonial Affair, who won the Belmont.
Ridden by Omar Klinger, Perfect Challenge returned $62 to win for her trainer, Linda Albert, and owners 3 B Stables (Helen Kelly, Kathy Vetter and Netherland Wilson). Smiling broadly, Kelly said 3 B stands for "three beauties."
She has owned horses 16 years, but Perfect Challenge is the first for Vetter and Wilson, who live in Virginia.
Distaff Starter Handicap
Set the Pace gave trainer Vernon Allison his first Maryland Million winner and owner Herbert B. Mittenthal of Towson his first stakes win of any kind.
Allison trains a stable of three at Bowie. For a year and a half, he had only one horse, Set the Pace. Yesterday, his patience was rewarded.
The longest shot in a five-horse field, Aggro Crag, broke away for a 40-length lead and "stole" the $22,500 Million Steeplechase, holding on by 12 lengths. It was Aggro Crag's first victory since he broke his maiden over jumps at Saratoga in July. Bitsy Patterson was aboard the winner. The day's biggest oddity in numbers occurred when only $49,049 comprised the Twin Trifecta pool, which guaranteed a $100,000 payoff. Six bettors had the correct combination in the ninth race, the second half of the bet, to collect $16,666 each.
Sun staff writer Kent Baker contributed to this article.
Pub Date: 10/18/98