10/08/2003 11:00PM

Docent permitted to double dip

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Saturday is Maryland Million Day at Laurel Park, a showcase for the best in the state. But that can't stop a classy Pennsylvania-bred from being favored in the richest race on the card, the $200,000 Maryland Million Classic.

Docent, a 5-year-old son of the Maryland stallion Waquoit, is 3-5 on the morning line against eight other horses. He brings a record of 14 wins in 26 starts into the Classic, which he won last year by two lengths, and his off-the-pace style gives him a great chance in the 1 3/16-mile Classic.

Docent was foaled in Pennsylvania, but the 11 races on Maryland Million Day are open to any horse who is sired by a Maryland stallion. So Docent, who won two Pennsylvania-bred stakes earlier this year, gets to drink from two troughs.

The Classic caps a card worth $1,025,000. Seven stakes carry purses for $100,000; two starter handicaps are worth $50,000 each; and a sprint starter handicap goes for $25,000. A total of 114 horses sired by Maryland stallions are expected to run Saturday, an average of 10.4 horses per race.

Full fields and the lure of good money have made Maryland Million Day one of the highlights on the Maryland racing calendar. Track officials promote the day as the second-biggest day of racing in the state, behind only the Preakness Stakes.

This year's Maryland Million Day has also attracted the three national leaders, by wins, among owners, trainers, and jockeys. Rider Ramon Dominguez is named on a horse in every race; trainer Scott Lake has a horse in the Maryland Million Distaff; and owner Michael Gill will run at least one horse in eight of the races. All will be on hand.

Though Docent has the best chance to win the Classic, 3-5 in a nine-horse field may be a little short. Bettors looking for a price should consider the 5-year-old mare Shiny Sheet, who has won two of her last three races and ran third earlier this year in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap.

Shiny Sheet has won $346,170 in her career, second only to Docent in the field, and trainer Charlie Hadry thinks she fits well in the race.

"It looked like this year the race came up a little bit light," Hadry said. "She's doing really well and is relatively fresh. She'll get the distance and we are just going to give it a try."

First Amendment, quick out of the gate in all his starts this year, and Presidential Affair, making only his second attempt at a distance longer than 6 1/2 furlongs, are likely to go to the lead in the race, setting up the off-the-pace runs of both Docent and Shiny Sheet.