Making his second start in two weeks off a 10-month layoff, Maryland homebred Showalter swept to the lead at the top of the stretch and won Saturday's featured ninth race at Laurel Park by 4 3/4 lengths.
Bred in Maryland by Peter Angelos' Marathon Farms and named by the Orioles majority owner for his manager, Buck Showalter, the gelded 3-year-old son of Quality Road ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1 minute, 3.48 seconds over a fast main track.
Showalter ($6.20) was the beaten favorite in his seasonal debut, a similar 51/2-furlong entry-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up run over a sloppy, sealed track Oct. 1 at Laurel. It marked his first race since being moved to trainer Gary Capuano after two starts at age 2, including his debut win in November.
"He ran big today," Capuano said. "I was a little worried it might be a little close back for him, but he has training good and came out of his last race good, so what the heck. It was a salty race. It was pretty competitive, so I was happy with that."
Rolin With Olin rocketed to the lead and ran a quarter-mile in 22.47 seconds with Showalter and jockey Jevian Toledo poised to pounce on his right flank. They cruised to the front around the far turn after a half in 45.68 and straightened for home in command, pulling away down the stretch to win by 4 3/4 lengths.
Sir Navigator came on for second with Sir Orinoco third and Rider On the Storm and narrow 2-1 favorite Daily News in a dead heat for fourth.
"[The rail] post position got us last time, but he ran huge and then came back and won today pretty impressively," Capuano said. "Mr. Angelos will be happy. He's always happy when they win. They've been in it for a long time and Mr. Angelos is great for the game. He deserves a decent horse. So far, he's moving in the right direction, so we'll see what he can do."
El Areeb Impresses in Maiden Triumph: M M G Stables LLC's El Areeb took the lead from the gate and never looked back, graduating from the maiden ranks with an 8 3/4-length victory in Saturday's fifth race, a $40,000 maiden special weight for 2-year-olds on the main track.
Sent to the lead from Post 6 by jockey Trevor McCarthy, the juvenile son of Exchange Rate, purchased for $340,000 at Ocala's 2-year-old-in-training sale in March, was never challenged in the six-furlong sprint, opening up daylight with each stride down the stretch to hit the wire in 1:10.30 and return $6.20 as the 2-1 favorite.
"He got a little unlucky when he bucked shins in his first start at Philadelphia. He came back here the last time and was drawn in the 13 hole. It came off the turf, he missed the break, circled the field and still got up for second," winning trainer Cal Lynch said. "We were impressed. We knew he was talented and he's been working really well. It was no secret. Today he just showed up and put it all together, thank God."
Unhurried racing next-to-last in a field of 10, Quest Realty's Virginia homebred Speed Gracer ($19.40) came flying on the outside and got up to win by a length in the fifth race, a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight turf sprint for 2-year-olds. Sixth in the Jamestown Stakes Sept. 24 at Laurel in his career debut, the Lemon Drop Kid gelding won in 1:03.45 over a firm Bowl Game Turf Course.
In Saturday's opener, a $40,000 maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies on the Bowl Game layout, Heider Family Stables LLC's Contributing ($17.40) got her nose down on the wire to edge Stormin Babe under Feargal Lynch.
Maryland Million: Ben's Cat, whose 26 lifetime stakes victories include three in the Maryland Million, had his final work Saturday morning for the 31st edition of "Maryland's Day at the Races" set for Saturday.
Under regular rider Trevor McCarthy, the 10-year-old gelding bred, owned and trained by Hall of Fame horseman King Leatherbury was clocked in 1:05 for 5 furlongs over the main track.
"We didn't want to do too much with him since the race is right around the corner," McCarthy said. "He felt great. He did everything smooth. He galloped out real well and he came back great, so we're ready for Maryland Million."
Notes: Jockey Forest Boyce posted a natural hat trick with three straight victories aboard Shifra Magician ($27.40) in the sixth race, Speed Gracer ($19.40) in the seventh and Moral High Ground ($20.60) in the eighth. Toledo had a pair of winners with I.C. Lightning ($21.80) in the fourth and Showalter ($6.20) in the ninth. Both Showalter and Jeezum Jim ($12.20) in the second race are trained by Capuano.