Graham Motion. (Ryan Thompson photo)
Maryland-Based Conditioner Tops Standings for First Time
Russell earned the top prize for trainers having the most points in non-stakes races
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club/Edited
BALTIMORE, Md. – Graham Motion, a native of England who has been a mainstay on the Maryland circuit for now four decades, claimed the top prize of $50,000 in the Maryland Jockey Club’s $100,000 trainer bonus offered to horsemen for their participation in stakes races over Preakness weekend, May 19 & 20, at historic Pimlico Race Course.
Motion started seven horses in three stakes over the two days, finishing with 34 points. All his runners came on the undercard of the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1), capped by 3-year-old Nagirroc’s popular 3 ¼-length victory in the $100,000 James W. Murphy on the grass.
Prior to the Murphy, Motion saddled three of the top five finishers in the $100,000 Gallorette (G3) for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the grass – Sopran Basilea (second), Bipartisanship (third) and Vergara (fifth) – and two of the top four finishers in the $200,000 Dinner Party (G3) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the turf in Hurricane Dream (second) and Speaking Scout (fourth). Easter, also from Motion, ran sixth.
To be eligible for the bonus, trainers had to run a minimum of five horses in the 15 Thoroughbred stakes races during Preakness weekend, not including the $100,000 UAE President Cup (G1) for Arabians. Points were accumulated for finishing first (10), second (seven), third (five), fourth (three) and fifth through last (one).
The trainer with the most points earned $50,000, followed by $25,000 for second, $12,000 for third, $7,000 for fourth, $4,000 for fifth $2,000 for sixth.
This marked the seventh straight year the MJC has offered the trainer bonus program. Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen earned the top prize in 2017, 2018, 2021 and 2022. Brad Cox (2019) and Mike Maker (2020) have also led the standings.
Motion, who turned 59 Monday, is based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. He is a career winner of 2,653 races including the 2011 Kentucky Derby (G1) with Animal Kingdom. He has also won Breeders’ Cup races with Sharing, Main Sequence, Shared Account and Better Talk Now and was co-leading trainer at Pimlico’s 2017 Preakness Meet.
Motion is celebrating his 40th year as a trainer having saddled his first winner at Laurel Park in 1993.
Chad Brown finished second with 31 points. On the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) Day program he won the $100,000 Hilltop for 3-year-old fillies going a mile on the grass with Aspray, also finishing fourth with Up and Down. He had three more starters on Preakness Day, respectively running first and seventh with Whitebeam and Eminent Victory in the Gallorette and losing the $1.65 million Preakness, Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, by a head with Blazing Sevens.
Ken McPeek finished third with 22 points. McPeek ran two of his five starters on the Black-Eyed Susan undercard, finishing fifth with Butterbean in the $100,000 Allaire du Pont Distaff before sending out Grade 1 winner Rattle N Roll to a popular victory in the historic $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3). The next day he ran third with Denington in the $100,000 Sir Barton and Frosted Departure in the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) and sixth with Gunning in the $100,000 Skipat.
Cox and Maryland-based Brittany Russell tied for fourth with 21 points apiece and shared a $5,500 prize. Of Russell’s seven starters she hit the board with Prince of Jericho, second in the Chick Lang; Circling the Drain, third in the James Murphy; and L Street Lady, third in the $100,000 Miss Preakness (G3) for 3-year-old fillies. Cox had six starters, his best finish a runner-up effort by Tapit’s Conquest in the Sir Barton.
Maker rounded out the top finishers with 17 points from seven starters. His best finishes were a second in the du Point with Misty Veil and a fourth in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint, a five-furlong dash for 3-year-olds and up, with Artemus Citylimits.
Bonus money totaling $50,000 was also offered for trainers having the most points in non-stakes races during Preakness weekend. Points were accumulated in similar fashion with $25,000 going to the leader, $10,000 to second, $7,500 to third, $4,000 to fourth, $2,500 to fifth and $1,000 to sixth.
Trainers needed to have a minimum of three starts to qualify for the bonus.
Russell earned the top prize with 43 points, followed by Maker (35), Motion (26), Michael Trombetta (19), Jamie Ness (12) and Rudy Sanchez-Salomon (11).