Originally published by Maryland Jockey Club - Oct. 23, 2021
Call it poetic justice.
After surviving a steward’s inquiry following a victory in the Maryland Million Ladies last year but being placed second upon review of the Maryland Racing Commission in May, Vivian Rall’s hombred Epic Idea left no questions Saturday, driving between horses entering the stretch to win the $100,000 Maryland Million Ladies by a half-length over Maldives Model. It was another three-quarters of a length to Judi Blue Eyes in third.
A 5-year-old mare by Great Notion trained by Michael Merryman and ridden by Daniel Centeno, Epic Idea covered a firm 1 1/8-mile turf course in 1:49.46.
“It’s big redemption for us,” said Merryman after the race. “I have to bite my tongue a little bit right now because everyone knows that (the disqualification) was not right. But all the credit to the breeder, Vivian Rall. She’s one of the best horsemen in Maryland. Credit to my mom for bringing this horse along with us…. just a credit to all the nice horsemen we have behind this filly.”
Breaking alertly from the gate, Epic Idea was rated fourth along the inside entering the first turn and down the backstretch by Centeno while longshot Tipsy Chatter set fractions of :23.63, :47.89 and 1:12.04. But entering the stretch, Centeno moved Epic Idea off the rail and outside a tiring Tipsy Chatter and outside Brushing to take the lead and the Maryland Million Ladies.
Epic Idea came into the Ladies off a third-place finish at 5 ½ furlongs Sept. 30. “She came flying last time,” Merryman said.
The race reunited Epic Idea with Centeno, who had ridden the mare last in October of 2020.
“If you look back at her form, the best race she ever ran was with Centeno,” Merryman said. “We wanted to win so I made him fly up from Tampa to ride her.”
Said Centeno: “I talked to Mike and he said she was training really good. She sprinted the last race and we were going back to long. I told him we had a little bit of speed outside, and she always breaks sharp, so going to the first turn she’s going to be right there. She broke really sharp, and she got a perfect trip. I found some room turning for home and she finished strong.”