Richest of Eight Stakes, Four Starter Stakes, on ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’
LAUREL, Md. – Happy Go Lucky Stable, Inc.’s Ournationonparade, racing first time for his new connections, paid immediate dividends with a popular and decisive 5 ¾-length triumph in Saturday’s $150,000 Maryland Million Classic at Laurel Park.
The 1 1/8-mile Classic for 3-year-olds and up headlined the 37th Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program of 12 races featuring eight stakes and four starter stakes on ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races,’ celebrating the progeny of stallions standing in the state.
It was the second win of day for trainer Jamie Ness and jockey Jaime Rodriguez, who also teamed up in the $100,000 Lassie with 2-year-old filly Chickieness, bred and co-owned by Ness’ Jagger Inc. It was also the second Maryland Million win for Ournationonparade, coming three years after his victory in the 2019 Nursery.
Ournationonparade ($6) was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in a field of 11 that included the past two Classic winners, Prendimi and Monday Morning Qb along with multiple stakes winners Double Crown and Tappin Cat. Bred in Maryland by John Williamson III, Ournationonparade is a 5-year-old Cal Nation gelding out of the mare Parade of Colors, who Ness also trained.
“She was slow. She really was,” Ness said. “He approached me and said, ‘What about that old mare? When you’re done racing her, can I have her?’ He said, ‘I don’t know what it is about her, but I just like her.’ She’s produced winner after winner after winner. Good for him. He was pretty choked up after the race, and that made me a little choked up.”
As he did in his front-running 2020 triumph, Monday Morning Qb took the initiative from outermost Post 11 and was in front after a quarter-mile in 24.65 seconds and a half in 49.74, chased by Prendimi and Vance Scholars, winner of an off-the-turf Bald Eagle Derby Aug. 6 at Laurel.
Rodriguez had Ournationonparade settled in fifth with an eye on Predimi who, like Monday Morning Qb, was trying to become just the sixth multiple winner of the Classic and first since Admirals War Chest in 2015-16.
“He kind of broke a little bit slow out of the gate and when I saw the outside horse go so wide, I just let him go and I just sat off the pace. When [Prendimi] moved I just sat right behind him and every time he moved, I just moved with him,” Rodriguez said. “When I got to the half-mile pole, I was loaded.
“By the time I got to the quarter pole, he just exploded. I didn’t even ask him. I’m just sitting on him and he was cruising on,” he added. “When he changed leads he gave me another gear. Thank God everything came out good and we got it done today.”
Ournationonparade ranged up on Prendimi midway around the turn, matching strides approaching the stretch and surging past once straightened for home, going a mile in 1:38.71 and continuing to gain separation to the wire, finishing up in 1:51.78 over a fast main track. Vance Scholars came on to be second, a half-length ahead of The Poser, with Double Crown another head back in fourth.
Monday Morning Qb, Prendimi, Crouchelli, Ain’t Da Beer Cold, Tappin Cat, Virginia Fulla and Torch of Truth completed the order of finish. Maryland-breds Cordmaker and Benandjoe were scratched.
Ness claimed Ournationonparade for $50,000 out of a Sept. 28 win at Churchill Downs sprinting seven furlongs. He had never been 1 1/8 miles before but did win a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer by 9 ¾ lengths Aug. 2 at Horseshoe Indiana one start before he was claimed.
“It looked like the distance was no problem. That was the only thing I was worried about,” Ness said. “I didn’t really know the horse that well. I’ve only had him a short period of time, so I just tried to keep what the previous trainer was doing and that’s what we did.
“I think he’s just a good horse. He’s just a little bit better than these horses, and he proved it today,” he added. “I didn’t do a lot with him since I claimed him. He had a nice, easy work at Parx where I am most of the time and he looked like he was much the best today.”
Ournationonparade extended his win streak to four races and now owns eight wins from 25 starts, the victory pushing him over the $300,000 mark in purse earnings.
“We’ll probably leave him here. I don’t think there’s a lot of Maryland-bred races left, but he looks like a horse that could compete in open company,” Ness said. “We’ll probably point for some open company stakes races and go from there.”
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Photo by Maryland Jockey Club