Originally published by Maryland Jockey Club - Oct. 23, 2021
In a crowded race loaded with speed, no one could catch Buff Hello.
Joseph Besecker’s Buff Hello ($13) broke running from his inside draw and never looked back, sprinting clear to a two-length triumph in Saturday’s $100,000 Maryland Million Nursery at Laurel Park.
The Nursery for 2-year-olds and Lassie for 2-year-old fillies, each contested at six furlongs, were among eight stakes and four starter stakes on the 36th Jim McKay Maryland Million program, ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’ celebrating the progeny of stallions standing in the state.
It was the sixth career Maryland Million win for trainer Claudio Gonzalez and second of the day for 18-year-old jockey Charlie Marquez, who also captured the Turf Starter Handicap to kick off the Maryland Million program. The winning time for the Nursery was 1:10.51 over a fast main track.
“It was not an easy race, especially with the [post] position we had today. The [rail] position is really hard, especially with  horses and a lot of horses that have speed,” Gonzalez said. “The good thing about Charlie is, he listens. He warmed up the horse really good, he broke and rushed up and took the lead and he did the right thing. He stayed on the rail and he won the race.”
A maiden special weight winner July 31 at historic Pimlico Race Course, where he also led from start to finish, Buff Hello entered the Nursery off a sixth-place finish in the one-mile Sapling Sept. 5 at Monmouth Park. Marquez wasted no time getting the Buffum colt involved, hustling to the front and posting fractions of 22.12 and 45.21 seconds with Hickory Tree winner Local Motive and narrow 7-2 favorite Mr. Mox alternating in second.
Buff Hello remained in command as the field straightened for home and was set down for a drive by Marquez, opening up after going five furlongs in 57.62 seconds. Coastal Mission came with a run on the far outside to edge Local Motive by a neck for second, with Buff Hello’s stablemate, Shady Munni, another 2 ½ lengths back in fourth.
“He had the blinkers on and I know, watching the replays, he kind of looked like a little lazy of a lazy horse, so we warmed him up good. I sent him out of there and he’s the kind of horse you have to keep on going the whole way. He really dup in deep today,” Marquez said. “I got headed at the top of the stretch but I knew that I had a lot of horse, and coming to the wire was a great feeling.”
Buff Hello was purchased for $26,000 as a yearling last fall at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. He was making his Laurel debut after racing twice each at Monmouth and Pimlico, where he was beaten a neck in a July 11 maiden special weight by Mr. Mox.
“I was really confident with both my horses in here. [Shady Munni got] bumped really hard in the gate and that’s why he finished fourth. But, doesn’t happen maybe he’s there, too,” Gonzalez said. “Buff Hello, all the time he showed he had talent, that’s why I gave him a chance in the stake at Monmouth. That day we didn’t get lucky, but today he proved he had talent.”