10/22/2016 5:25PM

Admirals War Chest wins by wider margin in Maryland Million Classic repeat

Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club
Admirals War Chest, with Taylor Hole aboard, wins the Maryland Million Classic by 3 1/2 lengths.

LAUREL, Md. - This year's running of the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic looked like a rerun of last year's race, except this time around Admirals War Chest won by 3 1/2 lengths rather than a neck.

Admirals War Chest is a big, free-running horse. He does his best work on the lead when he can settle into a steady gallop. When he does, he can be difficult to catch, especially in Maryland-sired company.

Taylor Hole has given Admirals War Chest identical rides in each of his Classic wins. He sent him with purpose to the lead Saturday and then smoothly rationed out his speed.

"My instructions were to go as far and as fast as possible, and that's what he did," Hole said. "He's a year older, a year wiser, and more relaxed. Really, he's big and he just out-gallops them."

Hole is a winner of more than 2,000 races. On Saturday, he did a veteran's job of rating Admirals War Chest on the lead and then kept his mind on business in the stretch, keeping him under a strong hand ride.

Stephen Sinatra bred and owns Admirals War Chest, who is stabled and trains at his Berkley Farm in Darlington, Md. Corby Caiazzo is his trainer.

Caiazzo was not on hand for Admirals War Chest's victory. He was at Belmont Park on Saturday, where he sent out Mecke's Madelyn to finish second for Sinatra in the $250,000 Empire Distaff Classic.

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Admirals War Chest set fractions of 24.94 seconds, 47.99, 1:12.68, and 1:38.43 in the Classic and completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.28. He paid $7.20 as the race's second choice.

For the second consecutive year, Bullheaded Boy finished second. The 3-year-old Just Jack, the 9-5 favorite in the six-horse lineup, raced three wide early. He tried to run down Admirals War Chest on the far turn but couldn't and flattened out and finished third, 9 1/4 lengths behind Bullheaded Boy.

Distaff: Rockin Jojo gets up

Lovable Lady, the 4-5 favorite in the $100,000 Maryland Million Distaff Handicap, wouldn't settle down for jockey Horacio Karamanos, which likely cost her the race. It also set the table for the late-running longshot Rockin Jojo.

Lovable Lady was stretching out to seven furlongs following three six-furlong victories. She dragged Karamanos up outside pacesetting Cee Bee Gee Bee early, took the lead on the far turn, and then repulsed a bid from Scip's Sonata entering the stretch. Lovable Lady showed the way until the sixteenth pole before her efforts caught up with her.

Rockin Jojo was unhurried by jockey Angel Cruz early. She mounted her rally wide nearing the stretch and was up for a half-length victory nearing the wire.

The victory continues a hot streak for Cruz, who scored his first two graded victories in the last few weeks at Keeneland. Cruz won the Grade 1 Alcibiades on Dancing Rags on Oct. 7 and the Grade 3 Sycamore aboard Renown on Thursday.

Rockin Jojo, who is trained by Lupe Preciado, paid $65 to win in the Distaff. She was timed in 1:25.04.

Cee Bee Gee Bee persevered in the stretch to come back on and outfinish Lovable Lady for second by a nose. It was a half-length back to Scip's Sonata in fourth.

Turf: Phlash Phelps runs big

Phlash Phelps ran into traffic problems in his last two starts but jockey Victor Carrasco wasn't taking any chances in the $125,000 Maryland Million Turf. The result was a 1 1/4-length victory.

"Last time I got him in a little trouble, trying to save ground and all these things," Carrasco said. "Today he was the favorite and I decided to go out and just ride him like he was the best horse."

Owned by Ellen Charles and trained by Rodney Jenkins, Phlash Phelps was fanned five wide into the first turn of the one-mile Turf. Carrasco waited patiently with him until the second bend and then set him down. Phlash Phelps advanced three wide, took the lead outside horses in midstretch, and pulled away to a comfortable victory.

He was timed in a quick 1:34.57 while covering his final furlong in 11.90 seconds. He paid $3.40 in the nine-horse field.

Sapartianos, who set a realistic pace of 24.12, 46.94, and 1:10.85 on an open lead, held second by a neck over Grandiflora, who challenged him from the outside nearing the stretch.

Late-running Lord of Love finished fourth. Corvus, a 3-year-old, lodged a four-wide bid nearing the stretch but could not sustain his bid and finished fifth.

Jenkins said he did not yet have a next race in mind for Phlash Phelps, a 5-year-old gelded son of Great Notion. Phlash Phelps has won six of his last nine starts in 2015-16.