2020 Maryland Million Classic Cheat Sheet

Racing
Racing at Laurel Park. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Saturday’s Maryland Million is the day in the sun for the Maryland Thoroughbred breeding industry, one of the fastest-growing state breeding programs. The card at Laurel Park features 12 races, restricted to horses sired by a stallion standing in Maryland (in short, horses whose fathers are based at stallion farms in Maryland). Highlighting the card, as usual, is the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic Stakes. It will be the 11th race on the card, with a scheduled post time of 4:53 PM EDT. 

The 35th running of the Maryland Million Classic attracted a field of seven, with several names very familiar to mid-Atlantic racing fans. The entire Maryland Million card will be televised on TVG.

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Read on for information on all of the contenders in ABR's 2020 Maryland Million Classic Stakes Cheat Sheet.


Ryan Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

1. Prendimi

Jockey: Daniel Centeno

Trainer: Luis Carvajal Jr.

Owner: GJ Stable

Career record: 23 starts – 5 wins – 7 seconds – 4 thirds

Career earnings: $344,520

Earnings per start: $14,979

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 102

Pedigree: Dances With Ravens – Cigno d’Oro, by Tour d’Or

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 5

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: A Monmouth Park regular, this New Jersey-bred gelding almost upset last year’s Maryland Million Classic, finishing second at odds of 11.90-1. He battled for the lead all the way around with Forest Fire, and ended up losing to him by half a length. His lone win this year was another gutsy effort. In the Charles Hesse III Handicap at Monmouth, he dueled down the stretch with the classy Golden Brown, and ended up edging him out by a head. While he’s a fun horse to root for, the pace scenario in Saturday’s Maryland Million Classic doesn’t favor him. He should encounter a lot of heat up front, making it more difficult for him to hold on late. When he finished second in the Classic last year, he got away with an opening half-mile in 49.25 seconds, and three-quarters of a mile in 1:13.40. It’s unlikely the pace will be that slow again, with so much quality speed signed on.


Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

2. Tattooed

Jockey: Kevin Gomez

Trainer: Tim Keefe

Owners: Montuori Holt and Palumbo Racing Stable

Career record: 28 starts – 5 wins – 9 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $268,669

Earnings per start: $9,595

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 104

Pedigree: Etched – Tough Talkin Lady, by Oratory

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 5

Running style: Stalker/Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This gelding has been the epitome of the phrase “close but no cigar” in his recent races. In his past 14 starts, his only victory has come via a disqualification. He tends to sit in mid-pack and then make what looks like a menacing move, only to flatten out late. In his last start, a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claiming race at Pimlico on Oct. 2, he had every chance to go by Tap the Mark after making up tons of ground, but he couldn’t do it. His pace figures indicate that he’s got a pretty good closing punch, so he’s definitely worth using if you’re playing exactas or trifectas; he could blow up those tickets at a price. 


3. Monday Morning Qb

Jockey: Sheldon Russell

Trainer: Robert Reid Jr.

Owners: Cash Is King and LC Racing

Career record: 6 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $140,000

Earnings per start: $23,333

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 102

Pedigree: Imagining – How My Heart Works, by Not For Love

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 3

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: No 3-year-old has ever won the Maryland Million Classic, but this lightly-raced colt will seek to change that. He’s got a good shot at getting his name in the history books, too. He made his first start off a long layoff in the Federico Tesio Stakes on Sept. 7, and set the pace before finishing second to heavy favorite Happy Saver. That colt went on to win the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes in his next start. In his most recent race, Monday Morning QB was a non-factor in the Oct. 3 James Murphy Stakes on turf. Now, he gets back to dirt, and makes his third start off the bench. He should be one of the factors in setting the early pace, and may try to take this field gate-to-wire. He’s coming into this race with improving form and should fire a big one. 


4. Cordmaker

Jockey: Victor Carrasco

Trainer: Rodney Jenkins

Owner: Hillwood Stable

Career record: 22 starts – 8 wins – 3 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $476,490

Earnings per start: $21,659

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 111

Pedigree: Curlin – Tanca, by Polish Numbers

Color: Chestnut

Age: 5

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: He ended 2019 on a strong note, winning the Governor’s Day Handicap at Delaware Park. Unfortunately for him, he hasn’t been able to find the winner’s circle since. In five races this year, all of them against stakes-quality competition, he’s been no better than second. He got good stalking trips in all of them, but never looked like a winner. While he’s coming off his season’s best speed figure, earned when finishing third in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special Stakes on Oct. 2, it’s a significant outlier compared with the rest of his races this year, and I’m not sure if he can duplicate it.


Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

5. Harpers First Ride

Jockey: Angel Cruz

Trainer: Claudio Gonzalez

Owner: MCA Racing Stable

Career record: 14 starts – 8 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $422,080

Earnings per start: $30,149

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110

Pedigree: Paynter – Polyester, by Tiz Wonderful

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 4

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This gelding won one for the home team during Preakness Stakes weekend, defeating out-of-town shipper Owendale to win the Pimlico Special Stakes by two lengths on Oct. 2. He was given a heads-up ride by Angel Cruz, who put him on the lead and held on for the win. Now, he faces easier competition, and returns to a track that he adores. He’s 6-for-7 lifetime on the Laurel dirt, including a 4-for-5 mark this year. As a prep for the Pimlico Special, he won the Deputed Testamony Stakes on this track, stalking the pace and drawing off to score by 3 ¼ lengths. Cruz and trainer Claudio Gonzalez are a dangerous jockey/trainer combination; they’ve won with 31% of their starters in the past 60 days. Harpers First Ride looks like the one to beat.


6. Tap the Mark

Jockey: Weston Hamilton

Trainer: Claudio Gonzalez

Owner: BB Horses

Career record: 21 starts – 7 wins – 4 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $198,054

Earnings per start: $9,431

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106

Pedigree: Tritap – Mark Up Tiny, by Benchmark

Color: Bay

Age: 4

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The “other” Claudio Gonzalez entrant in the field, this colt won a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claiming race at Pimlico on Oct. 2 by half a length (Maryland Million foe Tattooed finished third). He got a great setup in that race, chasing down a loose leader who came back to the field. He earned a career-top Equibase Speed Figure of 106 in that race which is his best by a wide margin; most of his figures this year have been a cut below those of the top contenders in Saturday’s race. He competed against Maryland-bred allowance horses several times this year, but couldn’t get the job done. He might be in over his head here. 


Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

7. Top Line Growth

Jockey: Julian Pimentel

Trainer: Kelly Rubley

Owner: The Elkstone Group

Career record: 9 starts – 5 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $349,325

Earnings per start: $38,814

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110

Pedigree: Tapizar – Orinoquia, by Whywhywhy

Color: Bay

Age: 4

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: He’s a track record-holder at Laurel, having covered a mile in 1:34.07 last June. After that win, he won the Iowa Derby via disqualification and finished third in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones Stakes. He’s been dominant at Laurel, with a perfect 4-for-4 mark over this track. Not only that, he’s won all of those races by at least 3 ¾ lengths. He’ll make his third start of the year in this spot, coming in off a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sept. 20. He’s going to sit just off the pace and make a strong middle move. It’s a strategy that’s worked for him many times over this track, and one that makes him very worthy of respect.

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