The 37th Jim McKay Maryland Million started with a familiar face in the winner’s circle, as Greg Wilson’s Beltway Bob, a Maryland-bred son of Baltimore Bob, won the Maryland Million Turf Starter Handicap for the second time on Oct. 22 at Laurel Park.
The 8-year-old gelding captured the 2020 Turf Starter in a 20-1 upset, but had won just one time from 15 starts since. He went off at 12-1 in a 14-horse field this year.
Early on, Beltway Bob drafted towards the middle of the pack, then moved up towards the leaders on the rail as they approached the far turn. At about the five-sixteenths point, jockey Lauralea Glaser angled him one path off the rail around tiring early leader Alpha Queue. Entering the stretch, Beltway Bob had clear sailing and moved three-wide after Samui Sunset and He’s a Shooter.
As they passed the eighth pole, Beltway Bob continued to close determinedly on the outside, but Samui Sunset refused to give in and fought back on the inside. Meanwhile, Super E and Seville Row began to gobble up ground from the back and started flying towards the leaders. Beltway Bob wore down Samui Sunset in the final few yards and held off Super E’s frantic late rally to win by a head. Seville Row finished a neck behind Super E for third, while Samui Sunset was just a nose back in fourth. The final time for the mile and a sixteenth over the firm turf course was 1:44.58.
The Turf Starter Handicap marked the first Maryland Million victory for Glaser, and second for Wilson as an owner (his third as a trainer as he also conditioned 1986 Distaff winner Capp It Off) and second for breeder Robert Gerczak. The victory improved Beltway Bob’s career record to 52 starts, eight wins, five seconds and four thirds for earnings of $243,569.
Beltway Bob is from the first crop of Baltimore Bob, Gerczak’s three-time stakes winner who earned $381,577 in a 36-race career. The Maryland-bred son of Malibu Moon stood his first season in Florida before relocating to Shamrock Farm in 2014, where he stood until 2021. He’s from the family of Maryland Million champions Phlash Phelps, Action Andy and Baltimore Belle.
Beltway Bob is out of the Awesome Again mare Freeway Fun, the dam of six winners from nine starters. She’s produced a total of three six-figure earners, the others being In Her Hey Day (Golden Missile) and Holy Highway (Holy Bull). Freeway Fun was bred to Baltimore Bob every year from 2013 to 2019, and produced five foals, three starters and two winners – Beltway Bob and current 3-year-old Hov Lane, who broke her maiden by seven lengths at Laurel on the next day’s card, Oct. 23. Freeway Fun was most recently bred to Barbados, producing a filly in 2021, but does not have a foal reported for 2022.