Blocked by a wall of horses for nearly six furlongs, Dr. Michael Harrison’s 8-year-old homebred Talk Show Man found room on the far outside turning for home and used the length of the stretch to run down favored Phlash Phelps for a half-length victory in the $125,000 Maryland Million Turf at Laurel Park on Saturday, Oct. 20. It was a Great Notion exacta, as the sons of Northview Stallion Station’s leading Maryland sire returned $9.90 for the $1 exacta as the race’s two favorites.
Talk Show Man’s victory kept 3-5 favorite Phlash Phelps from becoming the first horse to win the Turf three times. Talk Show Man, making his fifth start on a Maryland Million Day, recorded his second Turf win in four years. He was also third in the 2017 running, and in two Classic efforts was fourth in 2015 and fifth in 2013. He missed the entire 2016 season.
“They looked like the two best horses in the race on paper, and it proved to be just that. It was very exciting,” winning trainer Hamilton Smith said. “To beat Phlash Phelps, he’s a pretty dang nice horse. They had him ready, as well. We’re very happy, I’ll tell you that.”
Talk Show Man finished up the mile over a yielding All Along turf course in 1:38.64 to give Smith his eighth career Maryland Million victory and jockey Jevian Toledo his third on the day and second in a stakes, following the $100,000 Sprint aboard Lewisfield.
“This is a nice horse. He always tries. He’s all horse. This year, he’s feeling better than ever,” Toledo said. “I rode him a few years ago and last year as well; this year he feels [much] better. When I hit him with the left hand, I knew it was over. He was running so much, I said, ‘He’s going to get there.’”
Talk Show Man was racing for just the second time this year after a 10-month break between races. In his lone previous start, he came from far back to be fourth, beaten three lengths, in the six-furlong Laurel Dash Sept. 22, also contested over a yielding surface.
The win was the eighth from 36 career starts for Talk Show Man, boosting his bankroll to $453,306. He also won the Henry S. Clark Stakes in 2015.
“He’s been one of the soundest horses I’ve ever trained. The owner wanted to give him some time and he deserved it. When he came back he just kind of cramped up and wasn’t hitting the ground right and we don’t know what it was,” Smith said. “We sent him back home and they turned him out in the paddock and left him alone and he kind of took care of himself.
“I’m very, very pleased. We worked with him for two years to get him back to this level and he ran great today,” he added. “I don’t get excited too many times, but I was pretty excited today.”
Talk Show Man is the second foal out of the winning Haymaker mare Mark Me Special, whose first five foals of racing age are all winners. The mare’s 2013 son, Just Jack (by Great Notion), won or placed in eight of his 12 starts, three stakes, in his only year to race at 3, including a victory in the Howard M. Bender Memorial, and earned $204,853. Another Great Notion son, Slick William, has earnings of $113,832. The mare has a 2-year-old unraced daughter of Liaison named Hanky Panky, a yearling colt by Cowboy Cal named Wlcometothpartycal, and foaled a colt by Great Notion this past March. She was bred back to Great Notion.