LAUREL -- Pre-entries for the sixth Maryland Million closed yesterday, with 118 horses, including several cross-entries, listed for the nine races that constitute the main program.
Two races -- a $50,000 steeplechase event and a $15,000 sprint for amateur riders -- have been added in the years since the Maryland Million began at Laurel Race Course in 1986, technically making it an 11-race, $1,065,000 program.
The Million will be run at Pimlico Race Course on Sept. 8. After alternating between Laurel and Pimlico its first four years, the program will be run at Pimlico for the third straight year.
Safely Kept is the most accomplished among those pre-entered. The 5-year-old mare will be a heavy favorite to register a third straight triumph in the $100,000 State of Maryland Distaff Handicap.
In the richest race, the $200,000 Budweiser Maryland Classic, Baron de Vaux and Timely Warning are the logical favorites among seven pre-nominees.
Joe Kelly, Maryland Million publicity director, compiled the pre-entry rosters yesterday afternoon and said a few other horses might be pre-entered before yesterday's midnight deadline.
To run in the Maryland Million, a horse must have been nominated as a yearling; its sire must have been nominated, and standing at stud in Maryland, in the year of conception. For the $100,000 races, it costs an owner $500 to pre-enter, $500 to enter and $500 to start; fees for the other events are also one-half percent of the total purse.
* Today's 11-race program at Laurel Race Course closes the 37-day summer meet. The $40,000-added My Juliet Handicap for fillies and mares is the featured event.
The first of 10 straight racing days will be held tomorrow at the Timonium Fairgrounds. After two dark days, Pimlico will begin a 25-day meeting on Sept. 5.
* Little Bold John, 9, posted his 35th career victory in the $26,000 Laurel feature yesterday.
Ridden by Greg Hutton, Little Bold John surrendered the lead in the early stretch, then rallied back to win by nearly a length over Icey Call. He paid $4.40 to win as the favorite in a field of seven.
After the race, Little Bold John was vanned off in a horse ambulance after appearing lame in his right hind leg. The gelding was not pre-entered for the Maryland Million by late yesterday afternoon.