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Third Time a Charm for Prendimi in $150,000 Maryland Million Classic

Originally published by Maryland Jockey Club - Oct. 23, 2021

G. J. Stable’s multiple stakes winner Prendimi took pressure right from the gate and was able to fend off 3-5 favorite Tappin Cat the length of the stretch for a gutsy neck victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Maryland Million Classic at Laurel Park.

The 1 1/8-mile Classic for 3-year-olds headlined the 36th Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program of 12 races featuring eight stakes and four starter stakes on ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races,’ celebrating the progeny of stallions standing in the state.

It was the first Maryland Million victory for Monmouth Park-based trainer Luis Carvajal Jr., coming four years after his first career graded-stakes triumph in the General George (G3) with Imperial Hint, who would go on to win four Grade 1 races and more than $2.2 million in purse earnings.

“I’m happy to come back and win another one,” Carvajal said. “Maybe I will [bring] some horses and stable here someday.”

Under jockey Mychel Sanchez, Prendimi ($26.20) completed the distance in 1:50.46 over a fast main track in his third consecutive trip to the Classic. He finished second by a half-length to Forest Fire in 2019 and was last of seven behind Monday Morning Qb in 2020.

“The first time we got beat, [jockey] Paco Lopez beat me. He’s my friend,” Carvajal said. “The next time he ran, he ran a little poorly but we always had faith in him. He was training very good, so we came back and tried to get the money and we did.”

Breaking from Post 2 in the field of 8, Prendimi was sent to the front by Sanchez and led through a quarter-mile in 23.61 seconds and a half in 46.84, with 25-1 long shot Ain’t Da Beer Cold pressing the pace on his right hip. Prendimi went six furlongs in 1:11.16 as Ain’t Da Beer cold began to drop back and Tappin Cat picked up the chase in the clear three wide. The top two straightened for home together and ran side-by-side through the lane, but Tappin Cat was unable to get past.

“He wouldn’t let him go by,” Sanchez said. “He has some good speed. He’s such a big horse and he’s a grinder. He goes and goes and goes. I rode him once at Monmouth Park … and you kind of have to use everything you’ve got for him to give you everything he has. Today, he showed it. We tried hard, and he did it. He was fighting. He fought the whole way. He kind of did a little jump turning for home when he saw like a little shadow. But, every time he saw the horse and felt him coming, he gave me another gear. They pressured me the whole way, but he’s a fighter.”

Tappin Cat, who entered the race on a three-race win streak, was three-quarters of a length ahead of The Poser in third. It was a half-length back to Torch of Truth in fourth followed by Dream Big Dreams, Crouchelli, Dashing Lou and Ain’t Da Beer Cold.

A 6-year-old New Jersey-bred gelding by Dances With Ravens, Prendimi now has six wins, nine seconds, five thirds and nearly $450,000 in purse earnings from 30 career starts. He has won three stakes, all at Monmouth, including the Charles Hesse III Handicap last August, his most recent victory. He was second in defense of his Hesse title Aug. 29, with Sanchez aboard.

“He’s a big horse and he doesn’t like to be behind horses, so Mychel knows that he needed to go,” Carvajal said. “He got a little pressure down the backside but I’m pretty proud of him.”