LAUREL, MD – Two-time winner Monster Sleeping is expected to make her fourth straight trip to the Maryland Million for ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’ Saturday, Oct. 22 at Laurel Park.
Charles J. Reed’s 7-year-old mare, a multiple stakes winner with 10 victories and $529,907 in purse earnings from 53 lifetime starts, worked seven furlongs in 1:27.80 over Laurel’s main track on Monday.
Monster Sleeping won the $100,000 Maryland Million Ladies for females 3 and up at 1 1/8 miles on the turf in 2013 and 2015 and was fifth in 2014.
“We’re looking at the Ladies on Maryland Million Day,” trainer Dale Capuano said. “She worked very well. Typically we don’t work them that far, but her last couple of races she hasn’t really gotten a lot out of them so I wanted to make sure we got a good, long work under her before that mile and an eighth race.”
A Maryland-bred daughter of Oratory, Monster Sleeping has one win from six starts this year, a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint April 3 at Laurel to kick off her 2016 campaign. She ran in four straight stakes, finishing third in the Jameela Aug. 20, and most recently was fifth in an optional claiming allowance Sept. 28 at Delaware Park.
“It’s been one of those unlucky years for her so far,” Capuano said. “She’s been really good and she’s trained really well but circumstances in the races just haven’t panned out for her. Hopefully on Maryland Million Day she’ll get a break.”
Capuano said he may also run Richard Vermillion’s stakes-placed 4-year-old filly Rocky Policy, second in the 2014 Maryland Million Lassie, in the Ladies. She was a one-length winner of a one-mile, 70-yard allowance over the all-weather track at Presque Isle Downs Sept. 19 last time out, and breezed six furlongs in 1:13.40 Tuesday at Laurel.
Ben’s Cat to Work Saturday for Maryland Million Sprint
Never worse than second with three wins from six previous starts in the Maryland Million, 10-year-old gelding Ben’s Cat will have his final breeze for next week's Million this weekend at Laurel.
Bred, owned and trained by Hall of Fame horseman King Leatherbury, Ben’s Cat will attempt to end the first four-race losing streak of his storied career in the Sprint, contested over six furlongs on the main track.
A 26-time stakes winner with more than $2.6 million in career purse earnings, Ben’s Cat was most recently fifth in the Laurel Dash Sept. 10. He has worked twice at Laurel since, going a mile in 1:50 Sept. 24 and four furlongs in 49 seconds Oct. 1, third-fastest of 25 horses. Leatherbury said the son of Parker’s Storm Cat had another leisurely work Oct. 8 and was expected to have a sharper drill a week before Maryland Million.
“He worked the other day a slow mile, a very slow mile,” Leatherbury said. “He’s going to work back on Saturday.”
Ben’s Cat won the 5 ½-furlong Maryland Million Turf Sprint from 2010-2012 and was second in the one-mile Maryland Million Turf in 2013 and 2014. Last year, he finished second by a nose in the Sprint, his three losses coming by less than a length combined.
The Sprint will be just the third race on dirt from 20 starts dating back to June 2014 for Ben’s Cat, who is 11-for-17 lifetime on the main track with two seconds and a third.
A victory would tie Ben’s Cat for the oldest Maryland Million winner with La Reine’s Terms, who captured the 2005 Turf at the age of 10, and give him the most wins in event history. Countus In (1989-91), Docent (2001-03), Eighttofasttocatch (2011, 2013-14), Mz. Zill Bear (1993-95) and Safely Kept (1989-91) also have three wins apiece.
“He’s coming along nicely,” Leatherbury said. “He’s right on schedule for whatever we can get out of him.”
Prado Can Catch Dominguez As Top Maryland Million Rider
Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado needs one victory to join Ramon Dominguez as the leading rider in Maryland Million history.
Prado, 49, dominated Maryland racing for nearly a decade winning 24 riding titles at Laurel and historic Pimlico Race Course from 1991 to 1999 before moving his tack to New York. After some time based in South Florida, he returned full-time to Maryland in May. Dominguez, inducted in the Hall of Fame this summer, has 17 career Maryland Million wins, one more than Prado and Mario Pino. Jeremy Rose is the only other rider in double figures with 15.
Prado’s last Maryland Million victories came in 1998 when he won with Algar (Classic), Main Quest (Handicap), Maragold Princess (Oaks) and Winsox (Turf). It ranked as the most wins by a jockey in one year before Dominguez won five in 2005.
At Laurel’s current fall meet, which opened Sept. 9 and runs through Dec. 31, Prado has three wins, four seconds and seven thirds with $165,432 in purses from 28 mounts through the first 15 days.