10/15/2015 1:46PM

Phlash Phelps tries to stay perfect this year in Maryland Million Turf

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Phlash Phelps wins the Find Stakes in August at Laurel.

The Classic and Sprint are arguably the two most anticipated races on the Maryland Million card Saturday at Laurel Park, but the five supporting stakes also have attracted some interesting participants.

Phlash Phelps will try to stay perfect on the year in the $125,000 Maryland Million Turf. After going 0 for 6 to start his career last year, Phlash Phelps is 3 for 3 this season for trainer Rodney Jenkins. He was gelded last winter.

“Sometimes these horses don’t concentrate, and they keep looking around,” Jenkins said. “I just thought by gelding him, he would be a better horse. He’s much more focused.”

Phlash Phelps won a maiden turf sprint in April and a two-turn, off-the-turf allowance in May, both at Pimlico. In his most recent start, he came from just off the pace to win the $60,000 Find Stakes at Laurel in August.

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Jenkins cross-entered Phlash Phelps in the $150,000 Classic but intends to run him in the one-mile Turf.

One of his chief rivals is the 8-year-old Roadhog, who defeated Ben’s Cat in the 2013 Turf and finished third in the race last year. Roadhog was third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths, in the Find.

◗ Longtime Maryland breeder and owner Howard Bender, who died Sept. 28 at age 84, will be represented by Maryland’s Love in the $100,000 Maryland Lassie, a six-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies. Bender and his wife, Sondra, who died in 2012, were honored as the breeders of the year three times by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. Maryland’s Love is trained by Lawrence Murray, who worked for the Benders for more than 30 years.

◗ Bode Miller, one of the greatest alpine skiers of all time and a six-time Olympic medal winner for the United States, will start Ravenheart in the $100,000 Maryland Nursery.

Ravenheart, whom Miller purchased for $27,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale in 2014, overcame a slow start to win his career debut by 1 1/2 lengths at Delaware Park on Oct. 3. The 60 Beyer Speed Figure he earned that day is the highest in the 11-horse field of 2-year-olds.

Miller bought a barn at the Fair Hill Training Center this year. Ravenheart is trained by Francis Abbott III.

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◗ Aix En Provence comes into the $100,000 Distaff, a seven-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, off a second-level optional-claiming win at Monmouth Park. Aix En Provence was claimed by trainer Joe Orseno for $30,000 two starts back.

The horse Aix En Provence beat in her last start, Jubilant Vision, came back to win an optional-claiming race at Penn National in her next race.

Miss Bullistic, the champion Maryland-bred 2-year-old filly of 2014, will make the third start of her comeback in the Distaff. Miss Bullistic tired to finish 11th in the $150,000 Commonwealth Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile turf race Sept. 26. This is a much easier spot.

◗ The $125,000 Ladies, a 1 1/8-mile turf race, will match Monster Sleeping and Can’t Explain.

Monster Sleeping, trained by Dale Capuano, won the statebred Jameela Stakes going six furlongs on turf in August. She was fifth last out against open company in the $150,000 Lady Baltimore at 1 1/16 miles over yielding ground.

Can’t Explain, trained by Ralph Nicks, upset the off-the-turf Wasted Tears Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Sept. 5. She has since worked four times over the synthetic track at GoldMark Farm in Ocala, Fla.