10/16/2014 1:48PM

Eighttofasttocatch tries to rebound for third Maryland Million Classic win

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Eighttofasttocatch. shown winning the Jennings Handicap last November at Laurel, will attempt his third win in the Maryland Million Classic on Saturday at Laurel.

Local favorite Eighttofasttocatch has won half of his 26 starts over the Laurel Park main track and is 2 for 21 at other tracks or over the local turf. He will be a heavy favorite to win the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic for a third time Saturday.

Eighttofasttocatch didn’t have a perfect prep for the 1 1/8-mile Classic when he returned from a nine-month layoff Sept. 6. He ran off with his rider in the Japan Racing Association Stakes on turf and then tired to finish last. Trainer Tim Keefe has given him two works since, including a six-furlong breeze in 1:12.20 on Oct. 9. Eighttofasttocatch has scored 14 of his 15 career wins on dirt and should enjoy this return to the main track.

“He’s coming into the race well,” Keefe said. “He’s had a lot of time off, longer than I wanted. He’s been training well.”

Eighttofasttocatch, 8, is expected to make his final start in the Jennings Handicap at Laurel on Dec. 6. He began his career here in 2008 and has earned more than $900,000.

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Excessive Drama was cross-entered in the Maryland Million Turf but is expected to run in the Classic.

“He’s okay on turf or dirt,” said trainer Francis Abbott III, who has trained Excessive Drama for his last two starts. “He’s pretty versatile, at what level I don’t know. If he runs well, it opens up a lot of options for him, including the Claiming Crown.”

For the first time this year, the Maryland Million stakes were opened up to Maryland-breds if fewer than six Maryland-sired runners were entered in any race. Four of the nine horses in the Classic are Maryland-bred, not Maryland-sired.

In other Maryland Million Day races:

◗ Sprint: Javerre won the Grade 3 General George at Laurel in 2013 and ships in from Parx off a sharp series of workouts for trainer Cathal Lynch. This will be Javerre’s first start since May.

◗ Ladies: Devilish Love was a two-time turf winner at Saratoga this summer for trainer Tony Dutrow, taking a first-level allowance and a second-level optional-claiming race. This 1 1/8-mile turf stakes will be the longest race of her career.

Monster Sleeping won this race last year for trainer Dale Capuano.

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◗ Distaff: Classy Coco may hold a slight edge in the seven-furlong Distaff. She is coming off a runner-up effort for trainer T. Bernard Houghton in a third-level optional claimer at Penn National.

◗ Nursery: Golden Years was a stylish debut winner here for trainer Rodney Jenkins on Sept. 10, and the 76 Beyer Speed Figure he earned makes him a strong contender in this group of seven 2-year-old colts and geldings.

Bullheaded Boy, trained by Todd Pletcher, also figures prominently if he ships in from New York. Bullheaded Boy was cross-entered in the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes for New York-breds at Belmont Park on Saturday.

◗ Lassie: Miss Bullistic has won her maiden and the Selima Stakes at the meet for trainer Hamilton Smith. She will face 12 rivals in this six-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies.