LAUREL, Md. – A winner of back-to-back races for the first time in his career, Matt Spencer, Kelly Jo Cox and Bonucccelli Racing’s Ain’t Da Beer Cold looks to make it three in a row when he returns to the Maryland Million for a third straight year in Saturday’s $150,000 Classic at Laurel Park.
Ain’t Da Beer Cold, a gelded 4-year-old son of Freedom Child based at Laurel with trainer Kenny Cox, drew the same No. 5 post position he had in last year’s Classic, when he pressed the pace for a half-mile before fading to be eighth behind Prendimi at odds of 25-1. He is listed at 6-1 on the morning line.
“Absolutely love the five,” Cox said. “They asked me earlier and I said four, five or six at the worst, so the five is perfect. We’ll just kind of leave it up to how the race sets up. He’s learned to rate. He’s not one-dimensional on the front end. As long as he’s on the outside and not stuck down in the middle, I think we’ll be fine.”
Sheldon Russell, who won four Maryland Million races in 2020 including the Classic with Monday Morning Qb, gets the riding assignment on Ain’t Da Beer Cold for the first time. Both Prendimi and Monday Morning Qb return in this year’s Classic.
“We worked him last weekend. Sheldon got on him for the first time and he went a minute and change, galloped out in [1:13],” Cox said. “We couldn’t have asked for any better than that. He looks great coming out of that work.”
Ain’t Da Beer Cold has been in career-best form since mid-June, when he ran second in an optional claiming allowance at the Classic’s 1 1/8-mile distance. He followed up by winning a similar spot over Crouchelli by 1 ¾ lengths July 29, and most recently overcame an early bump to edge The Poser by a neck Sept. 5 at Timonium with Crouchelli third. The Poser and Crouchelli are also part of the Classic field.
Cox entered but scratched Ain’t Da Beer Cold from the $100,000 Polynesian Sept. 24 at historic Pimlico Race Course with an eye on the Classic.
“He’s doing really good,” Cox said. “His feet were bothering him a little bit. The track was stinging him a little bit, so we decided to give him a little extra time and have him ready for this.”
A native of Gallupville, Md. near old Bowie Race Course, Cox has been training since 1987, a year after the Maryland Million was launched. He is still looking for his first win in the event, with Ain’t Da Beer Cold also running eighth in the 2020 Nursery.
“For me, just to be part of the Maryland Million, I grew up in Maryland racing. It’s big,” he said. “I’ve never had too much luck in these races, but we’ve never invested in the Maryland-bred horses. To finally have something that’s live in any race is a bonus. For the rest of it, it’s the Preakness, the Derby, the owners that don’t get to invest in million-dollar babies and have those days, this is the day they shine and feel like they’re part of something big for the whole state.”
Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
Photo: Ain’t Da Beer Cold winning an Allowance at Laurel Park July 29. Photo by Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club