Saturday, Sept. 26, Laurel Park
The Low-Down: One of the last great days in Maryland racing, with the exception of the Preakness, of course, is Maryland Million day at Laurel Park. The event's founder, Jim McKay, is honored for this 24th renewal as the event has been rightly named in his honor as the Jim McKay Maryland Million. The 12-race card is loaded with stakes and 114 entrants, and a competitive field of 10 has assembled for the $200,000 main event. The Classic has been shortened to 1-1/8 miles this year from 1 3/16 miles.
Our Eyes: It's rare you see a race anymore with two 8-year-old and three 6-year-old campaigners in the lineup. The defending champ, CUBA, is among those back this year, but can he regain his winning form? The one thing he has going for him is that he's the ONLY horse in this race with a victory (2) at this distance. But CUBA has not won since January.
This race doesn't have much pace. Most appear to be pressers or deep closers. The intriguing horse in this race, from a pace standpoint, is SWEET GOODBYE, ridden for the seventh time in a row by jockey J.D. Acosta. She's also an undefeated 2 for 2, at Laurel. Last year she took the Maryland Million Oaks field wire-to-wire. At 8-1 on the morning-line, look out!
I have respect for RHYTHM MASTER who is reunited with jockey Jeremy Rose and ran very well since claimed by high-percentage conditioner Paul McLelland. He has good tactical speed and local rider Jeremy Rose will have him well positioned. The 9-5 morning-line favorite, with one-time Maryland ace Ramon Dominguez aboard, is BROADWAY PRODUCER for the sharp John Terranova barn. He should be sitting in perfect, stalking position.
You can probably deduce who I like in this race; it's the filly SWEET GOODBYE at 8-1 on the morning line. She's only run one bad race and it was at a mile-and-a-quarter, which she wanted no part of for trainer Chris Grove. Today she is spotted for action and can win gate to wire. The only horse I fear is BROADWAY PRODUCER. He's well drawn and has tactical speed to be in perfect position.
The Bottom Line: I'll be playing SWEET GOODBYE to win and boxing her in the exacta with BROADWAY PRODUCER.
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