A total of 44 Maryland-bred or Maryland-sired horses were nominated to the Howard and Sondra Bender Stakes and the Politely Stakes, both of which will be contested at Laurel Park on Friday, Nov. 24.
The $75,000 Bender, for 3-year-olds and up going seven furlongs, attracted 23 nominees, 20 of whom are Maryland-breds. Fole's Notion and Witty, both Pennsylvania-bred sons of Great Notion, and Coastal Mission, a West Virginia-bred son of Great Notion, are the exceptions.
Six Maryland-breds who are stakes winners in 2023 were nominated. They include a pair from Lynn and Lola Cash's Built Wright Stable LLC: Polynesian Stakes winner Double Crown, bred by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman and Rebecca Davis, and Eastern Bay, bred by Nancy Lee Farms and the winner of the General George Stakes-G3 earlier this year. Following his Polynesian Stakes win, Double Crown finished third in the Maryland Million Classic at Laurel on Oct. 14 and was most recently seventh in the Forty Niner Stakes-G2 at Aqueduct on Oct. 28. Eastern Bay most recently finished fifth in an Aqueduct allowance on Oct. 12.
A pair of Maryland-bred Maryland Million winners are also on the nominee list. Seven's Eleven, a homebred for Cottonwood Stable LLC, won the Sprint by five lengths and was most recently third in a second-level allowance at Laurel on Nov. 2. Classic winner Ain't Da Beer Cold, bred by Matt Spencer and Kelly Jo Cox, is nominated for a bid at his second career stakes win. He was entered in a third-level allowance at Laurel on Nov. 12, but was scratched.
In addition, Coffeewithchris and Super Accelerate were nominated to the Bender. Coffeewitchris, bred by Tom Rooney and owned by trainer John Salzman Jr., Fred Wasserloos and Anthony Geruso, won the Miracle Wood on Feb. 18 and has since been stakes-placed three times. He returned to the worktab in mid-October following an eighth-place finish in the Robert Hilton Memorial at Charles Town in late August, and has worked three times since. Super Accelerate, bred by Bowman and Higgins Stable and owned by Steven Walfish, won the Star de Naskra on July 29 and most recently finished second in a first-level allowance at Laurel on Oct. 28.
Other notable nominees include 2020 Maryland Million Classic winner Monday Morning Qb, bred by Bowman and Higgins Stable and Cary Frommer, last year's Maryland Million Nursery winner Johnyz From Albany, a homebred for Chip Reed, and two-time Maryland-bred champion Joe, a homebred for The Elkstone Group LLC.
The Politely, for Maryland-bred or Maryland-sired fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs on dirt, drew 21 nominees, all but two of whom are Maryland-bred. Six runners from the Maryland Million Distaff, including the top three finishers, are nominated.
Distaff champion Intrepid Daydream, a homebred for Larry Fowler Jr., has won three consecutive races and has finished no worse than third in six starts this year. Distaff runner-up Response Time, bred by Country Life and owned by Mens Grille Racing, won the Timonium Distaff on Aug. 26. Third-place finisher Luna Belle, bred by the late Fred Greene Jr., Deborah Greene and trainer Hamilton Smith, is a two-time Maryland-bred champion and a five-time stakes winner. Both Intrepid Daydream and Luna Belle were entered and scratched from the Thirty Eight Go Go on Nov. 12. Response Time most recently finished fifth in an open allowance at Laurel on Nov. 3.
Trainer Jerry Robb has nominated four runners, headlined by 2022 Maryland-bred Horse of the Year Fille d'Esprit. The 7-year-old Great Notion mare, bred by Sweet Spirits Stables LLC, won the What a Summer on Jan. 21 and was second in the Barbara Fritchie-G3 on Feb. 18. She won five stakes races last year, including the Politely. She most recently finished fifth in the Maryland Million Distaff. In addition, Robb nominated No Guts No Glory homebreds Fuhgeddaboudit and Mama G's Wish, along with Genieinabridle, a Pennsyvlania-bred daughter of Great Notion.
Other notable nominees to the Politely include ZWP Stable and Non Stop Stable homebred Malibu Beauty, a three-time stakes winner in 2022 who finished fourth in the Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes last Saturday, and last year's champion Maryland-bred 2-year-old filly, Malibu Moonshine, bred by Dr. Ronald Harris Parker, who hasn't raced since July 29 but has been working steadily since early September.
Entries for the Bender and the Politely will be taken on Saturday, Nov. 18.
Six Maryland-breds were nominated to the Nov. 25 City of Laurel, for 3-year-olds sprinting seven furlongs. Four of them - Super Accelerate, Coffeewithchris, Seven's Eleven and Johnyz From Albany - were cross-nominated in the Bender. Other Maryland-breds nominated include Post Time, last year's champion Maryland-bred 2-year-old. The gray Brittany Russell trainee, bred by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman, Dr. Brooke Bowman and Milton P. Higgins III, most recently finished third in the Perryville at Keeneland on Oct. 21. Feeling Woozy, bred by Sycamore Hall Thoroughbreds LLC, was most recently third in a second-level allowance at Laurel on Oct. 19.
The Nov. 25 Safely Kept, for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs, attracted one Maryland-bred nominee: Liquidator, cross-nominated to the Politely. Bred by Country Life Farm and Stone LLC and by Country Life stallion Divining Rod, she's won five times this year, most recently in a conditioned claiming event at Laurel on Oct. 27 from which she was claimed by Joanne Shankle.
Three Bender nominees: Larry Fowler homebred Tappin Cat, Dolice Vita, bred by Dominick Juno and Grandview Stable Inc., and All Threes, bred by Walter Vieser, were cross-nominated in the 1 1/8-mile Richard W. Small, for older horses on Nov. 25.
Entries for the Nov. 25 stakes will be taken on Sunday, Nov. 19.