A bunch of old friends met in the winner's circle at the Maryland Million yesterday -- and those were just the horses.
Safely Kept and Countus In, familiar enough to be regarded as old pals to Maryland bettors, became three-time winners in their respective races, the $100,000 Distaff Sprint and the $150,000 Ladies Turf Stakes.
Safely Kept paid $2.60 for a winning $2 ticket; Countus In returned $3.
Owner Anderson Fowler of Far Hills, N.J., won his third consecutive $200,000 Maryland Million Classic.
Fowler's big winner was Timely Warning, a 6-year-old gelding sired by former Belmont Stakes winner, Caveat, who stands at stud at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City.
It was Timely Warning's second victory in the featured race, and if trainer Buddy Raines has his way, it won't be his last.
"We'll point him for the race again next year, when he's 7," Raines said.
Timely Warning was ridden by Raines' 22-year-old grandson, Mike Luzzi, a leading rider at Pimlico.
Fowler had won the race in 1989 with Master Speaker. In 1988 the same horse had won the Maryland Million Turf for 3-year-olds.
The Maryland Million races, founded six years ago by ABC sportscaster Jim McKay, are restricted to the progeny of Maryland stallions. They are patterned after the nationally acclaimed Breeders' Cup series. Locally sired horses must be made eligible for the nine races by the time they are 2-year-olds. There is also a race for amateur riders, won yesterday by Brenda Jordan on Cool Brilliance. The program was expanded to include a steeplechase. Dogwood Stable's Make Azilian, trained by Charlie Fenwick, won over Caveat Fumator.
Three nationally ranked jockeys were expected to ride on the card. But one of them, Kentucky Derby winner Chris Antley, failed to show up. He phoned and said his mother had been in a car accident, said a racing official.
Julie Krone, the country's leading woman rider, won with one of Antley's canceled mounts, the 2-year-old filly Missy White Oak, which paid $89 to win. Krone also won on Countus In.
Gary Stevens, the California-based rider whose mounts have own more than $9 million this year, rode Safely Kept, Maryland's two-time Horse of the Year, for the first time, but just barely won.
Safely Kept carried a career-high of 130 pounds in the Distaff Sprint, and lasted by just a half-length over In The Curl, carrying 12 pounds less. During the race, Safely Kept grabbed a quarter, which means she took out a chunk of her left front foot, but it is not thought to be a career-threatening injury. Other impressive winners were Coolin It, a 7 1/2 -length winner in the 2-year-old colt stakes, and Richard's Lass, a 14-length winner against 3-year-old fillies.
Coolin It, owned by former Pimlico owner Ben Cohen and his wife, Zelda, is undefeated in three starts.
Five Maryland farms stand the stallions that produced eight of the nine featured Maryland Million winners.
Northview Stallion Station led all farms with three winners sired by its stallions, followed by Thornmar Farm in Chestertown, which had two winners and Shamrock, Bonita and Country Life Farms, one winner each.
nTC The winning Northview stallions were Caveat (Timely Warning), Smarten (Smart Alec) and Baederwood (Missy White Oak).
Horatius (Safely Kept) and North Pole (Coolin It) won for Thornmar. Dancing Count (Countus In), Deputed Testamony (Sweet Bunny) and Allen's Prospect (Richard's Lass) each sired a winner.
Scottsville, winner of the Maryland Million Turf, is sired by Deputy Minister, who formerly stood at the defunct Windfields Farm and is now located in Kentucky.
A crowd of 23,254 wagered $2,385,129 on the 11 races. It was a record crowd for the Maryland Million and the second largest handle in the series' six-year history.