Trainer hopes rested Testafly delivers classic Million effort Mills eyes state prestige

Algar to defend crown

October 17, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The owners and trainer of Testafly passed up the possibility of $140,000 in bonuses when they held their horse out of the final race of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships (MATCH).

They skipped the race, the Brandywine Handicap two weeks ago at Delaware Park, so they could have a fresh horse today. Their goal was the $200,000 Maryland Million Classic -- not only the $120,000 winner's share but also the prestige of winning one of the state's marquee races.

"That's been our goal all along," said J. D. Brown, one of the owners of the 4-year-old colt. "This race would go a long way in establishing the reputation of this horse and his trainer. Neither one has gotten the recognition he deserves."

Dale Mills, 34, trains Testafly. A former trainer and rider of show horses, he has trained thoroughbreds since 1993. He transformed Testafly, a $14,500 claimer, into one of the state's top handicap horses. He is considering sending the horse to southern Florida this winter for the Grade I Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

"Right now he looks like he's worth shipping anywhere," Mills said. "He's doing great. He's right on target. You give him four to six weeks off, that's when he runs his eyeballs out."

Testafly has been off five weeks after running second in the Polynesian Stakes at Colonial Downs. He was not at his best for that race, Mills said; he was tired from a battle two weeks earlier with Skip Away.

In the Philip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park, Testafly dueled with Skip Away early but then faded to third. Later, Testafly was disqualified to seventh for testing positive for clenbuterol, a drug that helps horses breathe. Mills denies administering the drug, and his owners have appealed the disqualification.

But Testafly had proved, by winning five of 11 races this year, that maturity and Mills' handling produced a first-rate horse. Today, in the featured race of 11 for horses sired by Maryland stallions, he faces a stellar cast of challengers from Maryland and out of state.

In JoAnne Hughes, trainer of Mary's Buckaroo, he also faces one of the country's hottest trainers. In a span of 10 days at Colonial Downs, Hughes won four races with the three horses she trains at Bowie: Reason's Romeo, Questa and Mary's Buckaroo.

The latter two race today. For Mary's Buckaroo, his allowance win at Colonial was his prep for the Classic. One year ago, after an extremely wide trip, Mary's Buckaroo lost the Classic by a neck to Algar, who returns to defend his crown.

NOTES: Two other horses who won Maryland Million races last year will defend their titles: Aberfoyle in the Sprint and Winsox in the Turf.

Three others who won last year will compete in different races: Maragold Princess, who won the Lassie, races in the Oaks; Proud Run, who won the Oaks, runs in the Ladies; and Warrenpeace, who won the Starter Handicap, competes in the Classic.

Deputed Testamony and Horatius lead state stallions in siring the most Maryland Million winners: eight. But Allen's Prospect is hot on their heels with seven.

Today, 12 offspring of Allen's Prospect start compared to six of Horatius and five of Deputed Testamony. Three of Deputed Testamony's offspring compete in the Classic: Testafly, Testing and Warrenpeace. Allen's Prospect also has three in the Classic: Prince Guistino, Waited and Herc's Prospect.

In addition to Allen's Prospect, Horatio and Deputed Testamony, eight other stallions are represented by at least five starters: Norquestor and Polish Numbers nine, Smarten seven, Waquoit six, and Carnivalay, Caveat, Proud Truth and Two Punch five.

Hal C. B. Clagett has bred the most Maryland Million winners: five. Phyllis and Bill Dixon's Mea Culpa Stables owns the most winners: five. Bill Boniface has trained the most winners: seven.

And Edgar Prado has ridden the most winners: 12. The nation's winningest jockey, Prado rode three Maryland Million winners last year as well as three the year before. Today, he rides in every race except the steeplechase.

Pub Date: 10/17/98

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