Maryland Million: Third Time The Charm For Ain’t Da Beer Cold? – Horse Racing News

Maryland Million: Third Time The Charm For Ain’t Da Beer Cold? – Horse Racing News

A winner of back-to-back races for the first time in his career, Matt Spencer, Kelly Jo Cox and Bonucccelli Racing’s Ain’t Da Beer Cold looks to make it three in a row when he returns to the Maryland Million for a third straight year in Saturday’s $150,000 Classic at Laurel Park.

Ain’t Da Beer Cold, a gelded 4-year-old son of Freedom Child based at Laurel with trainer Kenny Cox, drew the same No. 5 post position he had in last year’s Classic, when he pressed the pace for a half-mile before fading to be eighth behind Prendimi at odds of 25-1. He is listed at 6-1 on the morning line.

“Absolutely love the five,” Cox said. “They asked me earlier and I said four, five or six at the worst, so the five is perfect. We’ll just kind of leave it up to how the race sets up. He’s learned to rate. He’s not one-dimensional on the front end. As long as he’s on the outside and not stuck down in the middle, I think we’ll be fine.”

Sheldon Russell, who won four Maryland Million races in 2020 including the Classic with Monday Morning Qb, gets the riding assignment on Ain’t Da Beer Cold for the first time. Both Prendimi and Monday Morning Qb return in this year’s Classic.

“We worked him last weekend. Sheldon got on him for the first time and he went a minute and change, galloped out in [1:13],” Cox said. “We couldn’t have asked for any better than that. He looks great coming out of that work.”

Ain’t Da Beer Cold has been in career-best form since mid-June, when he ran second in an optional claiming allowance at the Classic’s 1 1/8-mile distance. He followed up by winning a similar spot over Crouchelli by 1 ¾ lengths July 29, and most recently overcame an early bump to edge The Poser by a neck Sept. 5 at Timonium with Crouchelli third. The Poser and Crouchelli are also part of the Classic field.

Cox entered but scratched Ain’t Da Beer Cold from the $100,000 Polynesian Sept. 24 at historic Pimlico Race Course with an eye on the Classic.

“He’s doing really good,” Cox said. “His feet were bothering him a little bit. The track was stinging him a little bit, so we decided to give him a little extra time and have him ready for this.”

A native of Gallupville, Md., near old Bowie Race Course, Cox has been training since 1987, a year after the Maryland Million was launched. He is still looking for his first win in the event, with Ain’t Da Beer Cold also running eighth in the 2020 Nursery.

“For me, just to be part of the Maryland Million, I grew up in Maryland racing. It’s big,” he said. “I’ve never had too much luck in these races, but we’ve never invested in the Maryland-bred horses. To finally have something that’s live in any race is a bonus. For the rest of it, it’s the Preakness, the Derby, the owners that don’t get to invest in million-dollar babies and have those days, this is the day they shine and feel like they’re part of something big for the whole state.”

Cordmaker, Whereshetoldmetogo Awaiting Next Spots

Hillwood Stable’s Cordmaker, unraced since becoming a graded-stakes winner in the Feb. 19 General George (G3) at Laurel Park, is entered to launch his long-awaited comeback in Saturday’s $150,000 Maryland Million Classic.

As a Maryland-bred, the 7-year-old gelding by two-time Horse of the Year and 2014 Hall of Famer Curlin is the first of two also-eligibles for the 1 1/8-mile Classic, and can only draw into the field if four of the 11 Maryland-sired horses in the main body are scratched.

Cordmaker has raced once in the Maryland Million, finishing a troubled fifth in the 2020 Classic.

“We’ve got him ready. He’s doing well,” trainer Rodney Jenkins said. “I’d love to see him run.”

The General George was Codmaker’s 10th career stakes victory and fourth in a row. Bred by trainer Katy Voss and the late Bob Manfuso, he has 14 wins and $989,640 in purse earnings from 36 lifetime starts and has been training steadily since early September for his return.

“I watch the horse. When the horse seems like he’s ready to do something, that’s the way I train him,” Jenkins said. “Once they show you they are ready to go back to work, they progress very quick. If you try to rush them back, sometimes they don’t progress at all.”

With his horse unlikely to get into the Maryland Million, Jenkins will continue to look for the right comeback spot. Cordmaker is the two-time defending champion in the $100,000 Richard W. Small for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles, to be run Nov. 26 at Laurel.

“I’d say if he found the right race, he could run now. I’m not going to put him in against some bulldog that’s going to beat him up, but in a normal allowance race he’d be very tough still,” Jenkins said. “It makes you feel good when you know you’ve go ta horse that can run like he can and tries like he does.”

Also sitting out the Maryland Million as a Maryland-bred is Madaket Stables, Ten Strike Racing, Michael Kisber and BTR Racing, Inc.’s Whereshetoldmetogo. The 7-year-old El Padrino gelding was pre-entered in the $100,000 Sprint and $100,000 Turf Sprint, though he has just one career start on grass. The Sprint drew 14 Maryland-sired horses and a pair of Maryland-bred also-eligibles.

Whereshetoldmetogo owns 17 wins, 13 of them in stakes, and is also approaching the $1 million mark in career purses at $955,295 from 36 lifetime starts. Trained by Brittany Russell, he has also won four consecutive stakes in his only races this year, most recently the Sept. 30 New Castle at Delaware Park.

“He’s good. He had a little easy work the other day. We’re just trying to keep him where he is and keep him happy. We’ll let him tell us, we always do, but we’re very happy with him,” Russell said. “He’s the best. I just stay out of his way. Less is best, keep it simple. You keep it simple, and he runs for us in the afternoon.”

Upcoming stakes at Laurel for sprinters 3 and older are the $75,000 Howard & Sondra Bender Memorial going seven furlongs Nov. 25 and $100,000 Dave’s Friend at six furlongs Dec. 26. Whereshetoldmetogo won the Dave’s Friend in 2020 and was fifth in 2021, and won the Bender in 2021.

“That would probably be the goal, the next Maryland-bred stake,” Russell said. “I’d love to see him hit a million at home. I want to keep him winning and healthy, but it would be pretty cool for him to do it here.”

Maryland Million Day Attracts 171 Entries for 12 Races

Saturday’s 37th Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program, ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’ featuring eight stakes and four starter stakes, drew a total of 171 entries for the groundbreaking event highlighting stallions standing in the state.

Ten of the 12 races attracted overflow fields including the day’s richest race, the $150,000 Classic for 3-year-olds and up featuring the past two winners, Prendimi and Monday Morning Qb, as well as 2019 Maryland Million Nursery winner Ournationonparade.

Laurel Park will open its doors at 10 a.m. The morning handicapping show with Tim Tullock and special guest Dan Illman of Daily Racing Form will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a special first-race post time of 11:30 a.m. The Classic will go off as Race 11 at approximately 5 p.m.

On-track entertainment between races includes pony racing and the Suttler Post Farm Clydesdales. Fans can register for the hat contest, held in partnership with Christine A. Moore Millinery, and visit the new kids’ zone featuring a pony kissing booth, face painting and more.