Two weeks before the best horses and horsemen in the world gather for a lucrative weekend of championship racing, Laurel Park will once again play host to Maryland's version of the Breeders' Cup . The Jim McKay Maryland Million will celebrate its 33rd year Saturday featuring a program of races for horses by 110 stallions conceived in Maryland and fully nominated and certified to the Maryland Million program, led by the $150,000 Classic. Already the second-biggest day on Maryland's racing calendar behind the spring's Preakness Stakes (G1), "Maryland's Day at the Races" will include the inaugural Clubhouse Festival, modeled after the Preakness' InfieldFest and featuring Grammy-nominated Steve Aoki . "It's our Breeders' Cup," Laurel-based Hall of Fame horseman King Leatherbury said. " Jim McKay said to me on the first day we had one, I had won a race and he said, 'You know what makes this great, don't you King?' And I said, 'Yeah, it's Maryland's day.' He said, 'You're right.' This is a day where the Marylanders all get to participate and get to run and get the money." Of the great horses to come out of the Maryland Million, Leatherbury had one of the best. He bred, owned and trained late Mid-Atlantic legend Ben's Cat to 32 wins, 26 in stakes, and more than $2.6 million in purse earnings from 63 starts before his retirement in June 2017 at age 11. Ben's Cat shares the record for most starts in the Maryland Million with seven and most wins with three, taking the Turf Sprint from 2010-12. When the race was discontinued, he finished a close second in the 2013 and 2014 Turf and 2015 Sprint. "We've been lucky to have seen so many great horses over the years. Of course, in my mind it's the great Ben's Cat. He was very special to me and to the fans. He was an amazing animal," Leatherbury, 85, said. "I used to joke with them because he won a race three times and they retired the race. It wasn't drawing as many horses so they kind of combined that with the Sprint, which is run on the dirt. We really have drawn some really nice horses over the years. It's a great day."
Towson's Flacco added to national FCS watch list
Towson junior quarterback Tom Flacco was one of seven players added to the National Player of the Year watch list for the STATS Walter Payton Award, which is given to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. Flacco is fourth in FCS with 350.8 yards of total offense per game. He also ranks 14th nationally with 278.3 passing yards per game and tops the conference with 15 touchdown passes. Flacco also has rushed for 435 yards and two scores.
Division III honors: Stevenson junior linebacker Hanif Jones was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week. Jones had two interceptions and three tackles in Stevenson's 20-6 win at Widener. ... Salisbury sophomore safety Sean Carroll also was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week after leading the Sea Gulls with seven solo tackles in a win over Montclair State.
Sprint football: Navy kicker Jared Swenson earned his third Collegiate Sprint Football League Special Teams Player of the Week accolade this season for his performance in the Midshipmen's 45-14 victory over Caldwell.
Loyola Maryland's Karcz earns preseason honors
Loyola Maryland junior Stephanie Karcz has been named to the five-member Preseason All- Patriot League Women's Basketball Team, while the Greyhounds were picked to finish third in the preseason poll. Karcz was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, to the All-Patriot League First Team for a first time and to the All-Defensive Team for a second-straight season. She was one of three players in the Patriot League to average a double-double on the year (14.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg), while she was the only one to do so in conference play (14.2, 11.7).
Cross country: Salisbury's Ashley Mazer (Centennial) was named Capital Athletic Conference Women's Runner of the Week. Mazer led the Sea Gulls to a team victory on Saturday at the Hood College Invitational in Frederick with her individual title. Mazer has placed in the top five three times in four events this year.
Field hockey: Salisbury's Emily Lemanski (Seton Keough) has been selected to participate in the the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III Senior Game. The Severn resident has started all 14 games this season, scoring five goals and adding a pair of assists. She has scored two game-winning goals while attempting 14 shots. For her career, Lemanski has scored 20 goals and dished out nine assists for 49 career points in 62 games played.
— From Sun staff and news services