After a long stretch duel and a contentious objection, Ain’t Da Beer Cold was declared the winner of the $150,000 Northview Stallion Station Maryland Million Classic, held Oct. 14 at Laurel Park.
The 5-year-old son of former Country Life Farm stallion Freedom Child entered the Classic winless in nine starts on the year, although he was third in the John B. Campbell Stakes back in February. He came into the day a well-beaten eighth in an allowance at Laurel on Sept. 30 and went off at 36-1 in his fourth Maryland Million appearance, making him the longest shot in the eight-horse field.
Jevian Toledo was aggressive with Ain’t Da Beer Cold early, hustling him to the front from his seven post and clearing to the rail to take the lead in the mile and an eighth test by the time they hit the first turn. He encountered little early pace pressure, running the first quarter in :23.59 and the opening half in :48.40. Many of the closers, including favored Double Crown, found it difficult to close into such a slow tempo, and Ain’t Da Beer Cold maintained a comfortable advantage as they approached the far turn.
Market Maven (Super Ninety Nine), who stalked the pace from the inside, angled off the rail and made his move after Ain’t Da Beer Cold on the final turn. All Threes, another pace-stalker, made a three-wide bid and it looked as if Ain’t Da Beer Cold would be swallowed up. However, he dug in gamely on the inside and fought back against Market Maven, who had put a half-length in front at the top of the stretch. Inside the eighth pole, Market Maven delivered some bumps to Ain’t Da Beer Cold, and ultimately hit the wire a neck in front in a final time of 1:52.39. Double Crown (Bourbon Courage) rallied for third.
A few minutes after the field crossed the wire, Toledo claimed foul against Carlos Lopez, the rider of Market Maven, for alleged interference. The stewards looked at the head-on replay for several minutes, and made the decision to disqualify Market Maven and place him second. Ain’t Da Beer Cold was consequently moved up to first.
The victory, the first stakes win of Ain’t Da Beer Cold’s career, elevated his earnings to $383,559, with a record of 6-5-4 from 32 starts. He was bred by Matt Spencer and Kelly Jo Cox, who own him with Bonuccelli Racing. Kenny Cox is the winning trainer. This is the first Maryland Million victory for the breeders, owners and trainer, and the fourth Maryland Million winner for Freedom Child. The win was Toledo’s fourth of the day – he also won the second race (Starter Handicap) with Disputed Claim, eighth race (Turf Sprint) with Witty, and 10th race (Distaff) with Intrepid Daydream, to up his total to 17 wins. That puts him in a tie for second all-time with Hall of Famer Ramon Dominguez, and one win behind Hall of Famer Edgar Prado.
Ain’t Da Beer Cold is out of the With Distinction mare Distinct Affair, who was claimed by Spencer for $6,250 at Laurel in December 2014. She retired the following July with a career record of 8-7-1 and earnings of $129,275 from 30 starts. The mare’s first three foals have started, with two winning. Her most recent reported foal is a weanling colt by Irish War Cry, born April 30 of this year.