BALTIMORE, SEPT. 19 -- The second Maryland Million was more of a showcase for Maryland horses than anyone could have imagined.
Horses based in the state won eight of the nine races, pulling a succession of upsets against highly rated out-of-towners. Little Bold John scored the most impressive and most lucrative victory at Pimlico today when he won the $200,000 Budweiser Maryland Classic, running away from the favored Canadian colt Golden Choice.
But the star of the day was Billy Boniface, the trainer and breeder from Darlington, Md., who helped ABC commentator Jim McKay bring into existence this day of stakes for Maryland-sired horses. He won three $100,000 races today, one of them with Sean's Ferrari, a 2-year-old bred by McKay and part-owned by McKay's wife.
Boniface was also responsible for bringing jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. from California for this event, and Pincay gave the local riding colony a lesson, winning with three of his seven mounts.
Maryland's all-time leading trainer, King Leatherbury, contributed to the home team's domination, with two victories and two second-place finishes on the card.
The crowd of 20,669 had been stung by a series of upsets early in the day: three odds-on favorites and two even-money choices had already gone down to defeat. But the victory of Little Bold John was, in some respects, the most abrupt form reversal of all.
The star 4-year-old had run a prep race here last Saturday and finished dead last against a weak field, prompting bettors to make Golden Choice the 8-to-5 favorite against him today. But it quickly became clear that this was a different Little Bold John.
Jockey Donald Miller hustled him to challenge the pacesetting Where's Bob for the lead, and Little Bold John easily disposed of the front-runner on the turn. Golden Choice never made a serious threat, but Bagetelle, the early trailer, launched a strong move on the outside. Little Bold John brushed off his challenge and drew away with ease, outclassing the opposition. He covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:03 4/5. Miller, who had ridden the colt in his defeat last week, got as many boos as he did cheers on his way back to the jockeys' room.
The emotional and dramatic high point of the day -- as well as the most stunning upset -- was the victory of Sean's Ferrari in the Business Express Maryland Nursery. King's Snow was the 2-to-5 favorite, and McKay said, realistically, "If we got third, it would be terrific." Most Marylanders were rooting for him. McKay's efforts had brought together different factions of the thoroughbred industry, enlisted corporate sponsorship and made the Maryland Million possible.
Pincay gave his colt a flawless ride, sitting on the rail as the favorite dueled with a long shot, and then driving through along the rail when Maryland's top jockey, Kent Desormeaux, gave him room. Sean's Ferrari won the head-bobbing photo finish over King's Snow to pay $35.40 and bring about a chummy scene in the winner's circle.
Jim McManus, president of the sponsor Business Express, didn't have to hand the trophy to anyone. He and his wife own part of the colt which they bought from McKay -- whose real name is also Jim McManus. They got acquainted years ago when they started receiving each other's mail.
Boniface and Pincay were also responsible for another of the day's biggest shocks -- the victory of Gold Glove in the $150,000 First National Bank of Maryland Ladies. Chapel of Dreams was the 3-to-5 favorite on the strength of impressive performances in New York and California, but she tired to finish a distant third. Pincay kept Gold Glove far off the pace on the tiring turf course and swooped past the whole field in the stretch. She paid $25.
Boniface had begun his hat trick by winning the the Omni International Maryland Oaks with Angelina County.
Leatherbury won the USF&G Maryland Lassie when a 2-year-old filly he bred, Thirty Eight Go Go, upset 4-to-5 favorite Lady Danger. "It was like old times," he said, for his jockey was Chris McCarron, who launched his career in Maryland before going to California and becoming one of the stars of his profession. Leatherbury's entry of Ms. Rutledge and Edgar's Girl ran one-two in the State of Maryland Distaff Handicap, as the favorite Capp It Off tired to finish eighth.
In other races, Ringing won the Ryland Group Maryland Turf, Cool Joe captured the Jiffy Lube Maryland Sprint Handicap, and Jolly Jackie capped the day of upsets by winning the Sagamore Farm Maryland Handicap at odds of 21 to 1.
The wagering on the day's nine races totaled $2,040,886 -- much less than the $2.6 million wagered on the first Maryland Million at Laurel last year. The difference was due in part to the demise of all nine favorites.
This was a sharp contrast to last year, when obvious standouts dominated all the races and seven favorites won. Nobody will ever say after today that the Maryland Million is too predictable.