Saturday’s Maryland Million day was — as always — a great day at the races. Big fields abounded, and an on-track crowd of more than 15,000 gave the old track a jolt of excitement. Longshots won, and classy hard-hitters won, too. Bold Affair dazzled the crowd with a 13-length romp in the Distaff, while millionaire Ben’s Cat added to his already glittering record with his third straight Turf Sprint victory.
And our longshots?
Up and down. Out of eight runners — all of them but one at least 10-1 in the morning line (and that one, Tujoes, was 6-1 in a six-horse field in the Classic) — we had a win (Classy Coco in the first) and a couple of thirds (Brushed by Love in the Distaff, Tujoes). Three other horses ran very credible races in tough spots, while two (Bluegrass Atatude and Capital Fellow) got burned up on the front end of their races and dropped to the rear in their races. Two of our choices were bet down significantly from their original odds (Classy Coco, 9-2 after a 10-1 morning line and Tujoes, 3-1 off a 6-1 in the morning line), while for the most part, the others went off right around their morning line odds.
For today’s Race o’, we turn to the wide-open seventh, which is a first allowance for three and up going 5 1/2 furlongs on the lawn. After scratches, it’s drawn a field of 10 with Saturday at Ten drawing in from the also-eligible list. Dogwoods Lance is the lukewarm 7-2 favorite, His better speed figures are more than adequate for this race, he’s been competitive against better, and he’s been known to return running after lengthy layoffs before. There’s the rub, though: he’s returning from a break of more than a year this time, and whatever ailments trouble him, they’d also led to declining form before his break. On top of that, he’s lost this race several times previously on both grass and synthetic. And if you’ve learned one thing from reading these writeups, it’s that I hate a favorite with major questions. Three horses come out of the same September 22 race — Hesagoldmine, High Bar, and Ellipse — and they ran two, three, four that day. But I have questions about the quality of that one, as Ellipse set a rapid pace, but the runners were laboring to get to the wire. That leads me to look at the two runners out of a September 6 matchup, Saturday at Ten (#14, 5-1) , second that day, and Schlossed (#3, 15-1), third in that race. Two to run back from that race, including winner Greek Warrior, have returned triumphant. Saturday at Ten ran willingly but couldn’t stay with the winner, while clearly second. He does, however, have a touch of bridesmaid-itis, with seven seconds and thirds (in 17 starts) versus just two wins. Schlossed had somewhat the worst of the trip but ran on well enough into third. It will be just his second grass try, which makes him eligible to show some improvement. Quality Harbor (#6, 6-1) has some questions: he’s been away since December, trainer Kathleen DeMasi does not have a great record with horses off long layoffs, and the horse will be making his grass bow. But in his one start, he won like a good horse, setting a rapid pace and drawing away to win by six; two from that race won their next start. He’s got a shot to run well here. And let’s giveCorundum(#5, 20-1) one last try. We’d touted him to his first win, in maiden special weight company at Pimlico in April. He followed that with a good second in company similar to today’s but struggled in his next two. The horse hasn’t run since mid-June, but he has the ability to compete with these, attracts the services of Horacio Karamanos, and has three in-the-money finishes in five grass starts.