MD Million business grows at renovated Laurel Park

Posted: Oct. 23, 2016

Though it rained an hour north, a break in the weather helped produce a successful Jim MacKay Maryland Million day Oct. 22 at Laurel Park.

The Maryland Jockey Club, which used the Maryland Million to showcase major facility improvements at Laurel, reported total pari-mutuel handle of $4.47 million for 11 races, up 18.5% from $3.77 million last year and a gain of 59.8% from the 2014 fall event. Attendance was announced at 21,772, an increase of 7.4% from last year.

“It was an incredible day full of exciting racing and memorable events,” MJC president and general manager Sal Sinatra said. “The horses and jockeys put on an incredible show and we want to thank the horsemen, breeders and owners for their support.

“It was great to walk around and see the apron, dining rooms, and bars and simulcast center at full capacity and see families watching the races and events as part of Maryland Million. We want to thank all the fans for coming out. We hope the improvements and renovations we continue to make help continue the reinvigoration of Maryland Thoroughbred racing.”

The about $20 million in improvements thus far have focused on the Laurel clubhouse, grandstand simulcast areas, and the barn area. The entire facility eventually will be renovated.

On the racetrack, there was a repeat winner in the $150,000 Capital Bank Maryland Million Classic as Sinatra Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding’s Admiral’s War Chest became the fifth back-to-back winner of the 1 1/8-mile stakes. The 5-year-old gelding by Elusive Charlie quickly took command in the six-horse field and never looked back en route to an easy 3 1/2-length victory over Diane Balsamo’s Bullheaded Boy, who finished 9 1/4 lengths ahead of Dr. Michael Harrison’s Just Jack in third.

Corby Caiazzo trains and Taylor Hole rode Admiral’s War Chest, who last year won the Classic by a neck over Bullheaded Boy. The repeat victory was particularly sweet for owner Dr. Stephen Sinatra, who also bred Admiral’s War Chest in Maryland.

“There were some solid horses in the race, but you saw what he did,” Sinatra said. “The horse likes the lead and there were no challengers out there. I was a little concerned when I saw the 47-and-change half. I got a little concerned, but around the seven-eighths pole I relaxed a little because I saw him pull away.”

Admiral’s War Chest now has five wins in 19 career starts for earnings of $302,121.

The Maryland Million is designed to showcase Maryland-sired horses, though they can be foaled in other states. Of the nine Maryland Million events on the Laurel program, five were won by Maryland-breds and four were captured by Pennsylvania-breds.

According to Maryland Million statistics, this year’s results push the number of victorious Maryland-breds in Million races to 249, with Pennsylvania-breds second on the list with 30 since the event was launched in 1986.

(Laurel Park photo by Jim McCue/MJC)