09/28/2011 3:47PM

Laurel Park: Maryland Million draws familiar names

Barbara D. Livingston
Ben's Cat goes in the Maryland Million Turf Sprint.

Seven horses who won races on last year’s Maryland Million, led by Breeders’ Cup prospect Ben’s Cat in the Turf Sprint, highlight the 11-race lineup drawn Wednesday for Saturday’s 26th annual Jim McKay Maryland Million at Laurel Park.

The event, worth a collective $1.05 million, begins at 12:35 p.m. Eastern and consists of nine stakes, plus two starter handicaps. All 11 races are restricted to the offspring of Maryland-based stalions.

Ben’s Cat, who qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint by winning the Turf Monster at Parx on Labor Day, heads a field of seven in the $100,000 Turf Sprint (race 2).

Others looking to repeat are Blind Date in the $100,000 Distaff Handicap (race 4), My Sweet Nenana in the $100,000 Ladies (race 7), and Pocket Patch in the $100,000 Turf (race 9).

Blind Date’s seven opponents include Silver Heart, the winner of last year’s Distaff Starter Handicap. Baltimore Belle, winner of the 2010 Oaks on dirt, shifts surfaces to challenge My Sweet Nenana in the 1 1/8-mile Ladys on turf.

Regal Solo, who has not raced since winning last fall’s Classic at 1 1/8 miles, is back to compete, but will shorten up to six furlongs for the $100,000 Sprint Handicap (race 8).

The Classic (race 10), the richest race on the card with a purse of $150,000, attracted a field of seven older horses. That group includes 2009 winner Sumacha’hot, who missed last year’s race with a minor leg injury; multiple stakes winner Eighttofasttocatch, who has recorded a pair of triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures this season; and the horses who finished two-three-four in last year’s Classic – Not Abroad, Regal Warrior, and In the Juice.

Love’s Reason, winner of the Maryland Juvenile Fillies Championship in December, is among six 3-year-old fillies in the Oaks (race 1).

Jack’s in the Deck, winner of the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont Park in July, tops a group of 13 2-year-old colts and geldings in the $100,000 Nursery (race 6).

Aside from the Preakness, Maryland Million Day is the biggest draw on the state’s racing calendar. Attendance has topped 20,000 21 times. Saturday’s forecast calls for the chance of showers with highs in the upper 50s.