Fortheluvofbourbon rallies to take Maryland Million Sprint

LAUREL, MD. – Fortheluvofbourbon continued his winning ways Saturday at Laurel Park when he rallied from off the pace to take the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint for 3-year-olds and upward at six furlongs.

It was the sixth consecutive victory for Fortheluvofbourbon ($3), who has won 11 of 18 starts since being claimed by trainer Michael Pino for $50,000 out of a fifth-place finish at Churchill Downs on May 29, 2020. Among those wins were four stakes at his Parx Racing base.

Perhaps Fortheluvofbourbon wasn’t at his best as he returned on only 19 days’ rest following a win in Parx’s Liberty Bell over sloppy going on Oct. 3, but he was simply too good for this field.

Heir Port made the lead from the start and set splits of 22.57 and 45.87 seconds while pressured by 2020 Sprint winner Karan’s Notion.

Fortheluvofbourbon, parked outside of the leaders three wide, loomed turning into the stretch, and grinded down Karan’s Notion to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:10.96. Alwaysinahurry rallied belatedly for third, a neck behind Karan’s Notion.

Pino was a bit concerned about the short rest and noted that the Sprint wasn’t necessarily his first choice.

“To be honest, the owners [Smart Angle LLP] wanted to take a shot. They never bother me about anything, and I gave it to them.”

Bred in Pennsylvania by Hidden Acres 4-D Farm, Fortheluvofbourbon is eligible for the Maryland Million because his sire, Bourbon Courage, stands in the state.

Pino said that Fortheluvofbourbon will now receive a break.

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Starter handicaps:

Four $50,000 starter handicap races were also featured on the Maryland Million card.

* Apparently, Beltway Bob ($27.20) saves himself for the big days.

The veteran gelding fended off a furious late charge from Super E to become a two-time winner of the Turf Starter for 3-year-olds and upward at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Beltway Bob, 8, was bred by Robert Gerczak, is owned and trained by Gregory Wilson, and was ridden to victory by Lauralea Glaser. He completed the distance in 1:44.58 seconds. His sire, Baltimore Bob, won the race in 2020 when he upended Air Token at odds of 20-1.

* The Wolfman ($6) utilized stalk-and-pounce tactics to grab the starter handicap for 3-year-olds and upward at 7 furlongs.

Owned and trained by Joanne Shankle, The Wolfman won his third consecutive start. A 4-year-old gelding by Bandbox, The Wolfman was bred by Mr. and Mrs. Charles McGinnes and has won 8 of 23 starts.

* Ruiz utilized different tactics from his Nursery victory when he guided Mavilus ($5.20) to a late-running score in the Distaff Starter for fillies and mares at seven furlongs.

Unrequited Love set very quick fractions of 22.52 and 45.86 seconds while hounded by Sommer Velvet. Meanwhile, Ruiz had Mavilus well off the pace. They swung to the far outside in the stretch and rambled by a tiring Sommer Velvet in the final sixteenth.

Mavilus completed the distance in 1:25.59 seconds as the betting favorite. Fellow closer Startwithabang rallied for second over longshot Sheriff’s Kid with Unrequited Love a tired fourth.

* Pounding Music ($19.40) dug in gamely along the inside to nip late-running favorite Downtown Katie by a head in the Turf Distaff Starter Handicap.

It was the second win from 17 starts for Pounding Music, a 5-year-old mare by Hangover Kid. Trained by Linda Albert for Mrs. Allen Murray Jr., Pounding Music hit the board in her previous three starts. Most recently, she was beaten a nose in a $16,000 claimer for non-winners of two races lifetime.

Carrasco sidelined

Jockey Victor Carrasco was injured in a spill at Laurel Park on Friday and did not compete on Maryland Million Day.

Carrasco’s agent, Scott Silver, said the rider suffered a dislocated thumb and will miss 1-2 weeks. Carrasco was scheduled to pilot Sky’s Not Falling in the Turf Sprint.

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