Gonzalez Holds Strong Hand In Advance Of Oct. 24 Jim McKay Maryland Million

Claudio Gonzalez-trained stablemates Harpers First Ride, Galerio and Tap the Mark, each pre-entered for the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic Oct. 24 at Laurel Park, breezed a half-mile over its main track on a busy Saturday morning at the Laurel, Md., track.

The 1 1/8-mile Classic for 3-year-olds and up is the richest of eight stakes and four starter stakes on the 35th Jim McKay Maryland Million program. Created in 1986, “Maryland’s Day at the Races” celebrates progeny of stallions standing in the state and the groundbreaking concept has spawned copycat events across North America.

Winner of back-to-back stakes including the historic Pimlico Special (G3) last out Oct. 3 at Pimlico Race Course, MCA Racing Stable’s Harpers First Ride was clocked in 47.80 seconds. It was the fastest move of the Classic trio and ranked seventh among 58 horses at the distance.

Harpers First Ride has won four of his last six starts for Gonzalez, Maryland’s leading trainer three years running. Prior to the 1 3/16-mile Pimlico Special, the 4-year-old gelding captured the 1 1/16-mile Deputed Testamony at Laurel, where he has six wins from seven career tries.

Among other Maryland-breds to win the Pimlico Special are Hall of Famers Cigar (1995) and Challedon (1939-40) as well as Include (2001) and Vertex (1958).

Robert D. Bone’s Galerio breezed four furlongs in 48 seconds, eighth-fastest of 58 horses, while BB Horses’ Tap the Mark went the distance in 48.40, ranking 11th. Entered in a one-mile optional claiming allowance Oct. 22, Galerio also has a stellar record over Laurel’s main track with five wins and five seconds from 13 starts. After going winless in eight starts with five seconds in 2019, the 4-year-old gelding has won six of 10 races this year including his most recent, a 1 1/16-mile allowance Sept. 17.

Tap the Mark, a 4-year-old son of late Maryland sire Tritap, exits an optional claiming allowance victory going 1 1/16 miles Oct. 2 at Pimlico over fellow Classic pre-entrants Toughest ‘Ombre and Tattooed. He has an overall record of 7-4-3 from 21 starts with nearly $200,000 in purse earnings.

“He is pointing for the Classic,” Gonzalez said. “He breezed really good today. It all depends, if he continues like this we’re going to run in the Classic.”

Gonzalez also sent out Bone’s Eastern Bay for a half-mile move in 47.70 seconds, second-fastest on the morning. The 6-year-old gelding, winner of the Polynesian Stakes Sept. 5 at Laurel and second by a nose in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) Oct. 3 at Pimlico, is pre-entered in the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint for 3-year-olds and up. All three races are at six furlongs.

“All the horses that ran on the big weekend, Preakness weekend, they came back good, especially [Eastern Bay],” Gonzalez said. “We have to wait and see if we get in, but we wanted to be ready.”

Fellow Sprint pre-entrant Onmoregreattime was also on Saturday’s work tab, going four furlongs in 49 seconds. Clover Hill Farm Inc. and Clover Hill Racing’s 5-year-old gelding, trained by Jerry O’Dwyer, fifth in the Polynesian last out, will be making his fourth straight Million appearance. He finished third in the 2017 Nursery and respectively fourth and sixth in the 2018 and 2019 Sprint for previous trainer John Robb.

Robb has a pair of promising juveniles in Lucky 7 Stables’ undefeated Street Lute and No Guts No Glory Farm’s Moochie, each pre-entered in both the $100,000 Nursery for 2-year-olds and $100,000 Lassie for 2-year-old fillies. Both worked five furlongs Saturday at Laurel, with Moochie going in 1:02 (fifth-fastest of 16 horses) and Street Lute in 1:02.20 (ranking eighth).

Street Lute, by Street Magician, has made both her starts this year at Delaware Park, winning a five-furlong maiden special weight Sept. 7 and the 5 1/2-furlong Small Wonder Stakes Sept. 26, the latter by five lengths. Moochie was a debut winner June 29 at Delaware, then got loose and was fractious at the gate before running seventh in the Colleen, a turf sprint stakes Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park.

Another notable worker Saturday was 3-year-old filly Coconut Cake, going a half-mile in 49.20 seconds. Owned by NRS Stable, James Chambers and trainer Tim Keefe’s Avalon Farm, the daughter of 2014 General George (G3) winner Bandbox has won her last three starts and was beaten a half-length when third on debut May 31, her only loss.

The post Gonzalez Holds Strong Hand In Advance Of Oct. 24 Jim McKay Maryland Million appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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