12/27/2004 12:00AM

Md. Million worth more

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The Maryland Million is getting a bonus for its 20th running next fall. The program restricted to state-sired racehorses will undergo a major increase in funding this year, according to officials with Maryland Million Ltd. in Timonium, Md.

Last October, the one-day Maryland Million series was worth $1,125,000 when it was run at Pimlico, according to Maryland Million Ltd. president Mike Pons. This year, the series not only will be worth as much as $1.5 million when it is run on Oct. 8 at Laurel Park, but an additional $300,000 in purse funds will be available to eligible horses on various dates leading up to the Maryland Million.

Pons said about $225,000 of the extra funds will be distributed during a series of races on a single date in April, "probably opening weekend at Pimlico," he said. "Then we could have another $50,000 starter handicap on Preakness Day. We're trying to set a plan in motion to have a Maryland Million presence on every major racing day in the state."

Pons said Monday that new funding for the Maryland Million was made available through a Senate bill that established an escrow fund.

"It could generate as much as $800,000 to $900,000 in additional funding each year for the Maryland Million," Pons said.

The nominating deadline for foals and stallions for next year's Maryland Million is Friday.