Chris Antley and Gary Stevens, the jockeys that finished 1-2 in this year's Kentucky Derby, will ride on Sunday at Pimlico in the Maryland Million.
They join Julie Krone, the country's leading woman jockey, as a ** trio of nationally ranked riders that are competing on the specially-designed program for Maryland-sired horses.
The program was started six years by ABC sportscaster Jim McKay, who is also a Maryland horse breeder.
For the first time, a steeplechase has been added to the 11-race card. Antley, who won the Derby on Strike the Gold, is expected to have at least three mounts, including highweighted Lord March in the Maryland Million Sprint, Subtle Step in the 3-Year-Old Turf and Ritchie Trail in the Maryland Million Oaks.
Most of the races are valued at $100,000, although the featured 10th race, the Budweiser Maryland Classic, has a $200,000 purse.
Stevens, who finished second on Best Pal in the Derby but who leads all jockeys with more than $8 million in earnings this year, has picked up the mount on Safely Kept, Maryland's Horse of the Year in 1989-90. He also has a mount in the 2-year-old filly stakes and Star Standing in the Maryland Ladies Stakes.
Safely Kept goes for her third Maryland Million victory in the Distaff Handicap, carrying a career-high of 130 pounds.
"It [the weight] is enough to get her beat," her trainer Alan Goldberg acknowledged earlier this week. But he still plans to run the 5-year-old mare.
Krone could be the busiest of the three "name" jockeys. She will ride heavily favored Countus In in the Maryland Ladies Stakes, Eagle Mill and Mill Song for trainer Bud Delp in the Maryland Sprint Handicap and Maryland Million Oaks, respectively, as well as Noblest Heart, Lord Cardinal and Thirty Eight Knots in various other races.
The top jockeys could steal the attention away from the horses, who, for the most part, lack stakes-class credentials.
The defection of such stallions as Deputy Minister and Val de l'Orne, a decline in the number of foals produced and mares bred, as well as a 300 percent increase in stallion fees for the Maryland Million, have caused some breeders to be concerned about the quality of future cards.
This is counter-balanced by the breeders' parochial enthusiasm and fan and sponsor support, which have contributed so far to the program's success.
A short synopsis of each Maryland Million race follows:
* First race (1 p.m.) -- Amateur Race: Limited to amateur riders, this 1 1/16-mile race carries a $15,000 purse. Big Upheaval, cross-entered in the fifth race, and Chester Peekin, are the favorites.
* Second race (1:27 p.m.) -- Ryland Homes Steeplechase: At 2 1/16 miles. Pacific Spy has not raced over fences since Saratoga a year ago. But he's the lone stakes-winning jumper in the field, has had two recent preps on the flat. He and Dum Crambo are the favorites.
* Third race (1:55 p.m.) -- State of Maryland Distaff Handicap: At six furlongs, the race figures once again to be a tour de force for Safely Kept, even carrying 130 pounds.
* Fourth race (2:28 p.m.) -- Crown Central Petroleum Md. Nursery: Coolin It looked good winning the Rollicking Stakes at ,, Laurel, but faces challenges from North Carroll and Wood Fox, a pair of colts sired by Baederwood.
* Fifth race (3:01 p.m.) -- Mercedes-Benz Maryland Handicap: Three-year-old Icey Call nearly beat Little Bold John in a prep for this $50,000 "starter" race. He's fresh, has a good chance to beat old veteran Big Upheaval and the rejuvenated mare Sweet Bunny.
* Sixth race (3:34 p.m.) -- Maryland Million Lassie: Stakes winners Gala Gold Digger and Good Lookin Terri take on promising maiden Star Minister and recent winner One's Not Enough. Star Minister has upset potential.
* Seventh race (4:07 p.m.) -- USAir Maryland Sprint Handicap: Jeweler's Choice figured to dominate this race, but was injured right before the pre-entry. In his absence, the race is wide open. Iron horse Hooliganism has a good chance to upset more highly regarded Lord March, Antley up, and Eagle Mill, with Krone.
* Eighth race (4:40 p.m.) -- Maryland Million Turf: This 1-1/16 mile race is for 3-year-olds and might be the most competitive race on the card. Scottsville won at Saratoga, can compete with the likes of Subtle Step, Lord Cardinal and Fahrvegnuggen, all of whom are pretty evenly matched.
* Ninth race (5:13 p.m.) -- First National Bank of Maryland Ladies: Countus In has won this race two previous times, on both occasions ridden by Julie Krone. A Grade One stakes winner, Countus In appears much the best.
* 10th race (5:47 p.m.) -- Budweiser Maryland Classic: Baron De Vaux is bred to run all day, should love the 10 furlongs. Timely Warning, last year's winner, and Midas are possible threats.
* 11th race (6:15 p.m.) -- Maryland Million Oaks: Richard's Lass worked sharp (five eighths in 59 seconds) in New York for this race, is the one to catch. Ritchie Trail and Little Bold Lookin are threats on their best efforts.