10/19/2016 10:16AM

Phlash Phelps tries to right ship with repeat win in Maryland Million Turf

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Phlash Phelps wins last year's Maryland Million Turf.

Phlash Phelps was perfect last year, winning all four of his starts, including the Maryland Million Turf. This season, things haven’t gone as smoothly.

Phlash Phelps is 1 for 4 this year as a 5-year-old, but on Saturday at Laurel Park, he’ll have a chance to get back on track when he seeks a repeat victory on Maryland Million Day. Phlash Phelps will be a top contender in the Turf, as he will be moving back into restricted company after making three of his starts this year against open company.

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Phlash Phelps is a gelded son of the Maryland stallion Great Notion, who stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City. He was purchased by the Hillwood Stable of Ellen Charles for $85,000 at the Fasig-Tipton eastern fall yearling sale at Timonium and is trained by Rodney Jenkins.

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“He’s doing real good,” Jenkins said. “He just hasn’t had a lot of luck this year. Nothing has really gone right for him.”

Phlash Phelps finished third to Rose Brier in the open Henry Clark Stakes at Laurel in April. Rose Brier is 4 for 6 this year, including wins in a pair of Virginia-bred stakes. He was a close third in the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth in June and second in the West Virginia Speaker’s Cup in August.

Phlash Phelps won his second start of the year in an open optional-claiming race at Pimlico. He has had trouble in his two most recent races, the Maryland-bred Find Stakes at Pimlico and the Grade 2, $200,000 Commonwealth Turf Cup at Laurel.

In the Find, Phlash Phelps bobbled at the start and entering the first turn, then was steadied nearing the backstretch. In the Commonwealth Turf Cup, he was rallying in the stretch when he had to be steadied and finished fifth, beaten 1 1/2 lengths.

“He was in the middle of everything in the stretch, and another horse cut him off,” Jenkins said. “It happens.”

The 11-race Maryland Million card will include seven stakes and two starter handicaps for Maryland-sired horses. The nine Maryland Million races will offer total purses of $900,000. If fewer than six Maryland-sired horses are entered in a race, it will be opened up to nominated Maryland-breds.