Live Racing Returns Thanksgiving Day with Special 11:25 A.M. Post
LAUREL, Md. – Larry Rabold’s Polished Gal provided trainer Hugh McMahon with his 1,000th career victory in thrilling fashion, getting her nose down on the wire ahead of late-running Splendor Gal in Sunday’s sixth race at Laurel Park.
Polished Gal ($8.60), a 4-year-old Maryland-bred filly ridden by Victor Rosales, ran six furlongs in 1:12.93 over a fast main track to earn her fourth lifetime win from 19 starts in the claiming event for fillies and mares 3 and older.
Rosales settled Polished Gal in third as Midnight Crossing led the way through splits of 24.86 and 47.92 seconds before being passed by 6-5 favorite Gottaflathaveher midway around the far turn. Once straightened for home, Polished Gal steadily reeled in Gottaflathaveher down the stretch and held off a furious late run to her outside by Splendor Gal for the milestone victory.
McMahon, a 52-year-old native of Doncaster, England, has won with four of his last nine starters, winning once on each of Laurel’s four racing programs this week. Polished Gal – his only starter on Sunday’s card – was preceded by Paynterbynumbers Nov. 19, He’s ZippinOn By Nov. 20 and Gary Doing Biz Nov. 21.
“I’m excited. It’s a significant landmark,” McMahon said. “It’s humbling as well. I was just speaking with one of our grooms and he congratulated me and I told him it’s not really me, it’s a team, But, we’re more than a team, we’re a family. My name is up there but it’s not really me. There are a lot of people that are involved in this, but more than anything it’s God’s gift to us. Everything that we have is a gift.”
A steady presence among Maryland’s leading trainers since first going out on his own in 2011, McMahon was the state’s overall wins leader in 2013. This year, one abridged by the coronavirus pandemic, he has 33 wins from 206 starters with purse earnings of more than $930,000. McMahon has topped the $1 million mark in each of the past nine years, with highs of 166 wins and $3.981 million in 2013.
McMahon is currently tied for fourth with nine wins from 37 starters at Laurel’s calendar year-ending fall meet, which began Oct. 8.
McMahon was introduced to the sport by watching the races on television with his father, a coal miner in northern England. He was encouraged to become a jockey and attended the riding academy there, winning 59 races after coming to the U.S. in the 1990s before hanging up his tack in 1998.
In 2005 McMahon became an assistant to trainer Scott Lake, at the time running one of the biggest operations in the country with a peak of 287 horses in 2008. McMahon worked for Lake, a winner of more than 6,100 career races, through 2010, having saddled 108 winners in his own name starting with Flying Retsina Run June 9, 2005 at Pimlico Race Course at odds of 35-1.
McMahon won 98 races the first year on his own and followed with seasons of 146, 166 and 108 wins from 2012-14. He won individual meet titles at Laurel’s 2013 winter and fall stands and shared its 2014 winter crown, and has also been the leading trainer at Timonium and Colonial Downs.
Ranked third overall in 2012, McMahon’s 74 wins led all Maryland trainers in 2013. His first big horse was Don’tgetsuspicous, who he inherited from Lake and trained to 10 wins, three in stakes, and $324,817 in purse earnings from 28 starts from 2010-12.
Other top horses for McMahon include 2018 Dave’s Friend winner Colonel Sharp, 2017 Jameela winner Daylight Ahead and 2017 Camptown winner Northern Eclipse. He trains a 5-year-old Maryland-bred gelding named Brooks Robinson for owner-breeder Mary Boskin and helped facilitate a meeting between the horse and its namesake, a Hall of Fame third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles from 1955-77, in mid-February.
“A lot of what gets lost is that we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the owners. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of great owners over the years that have carried us, especially through the dry spells,” McMahon said. “They’ve been very loyal to us, even through the losing streaks, and gotten us where we are.”
Laurel Park Race 6 Replay
Notes: Jockey Sheldon Russell bookended card with wins in Sunday’s opener aboard Bound for Broadway ($6.40) and the eighth-race finale with Champagne Toast ($29) … Live racing returns with a special Thanksgiving Day holiday program Thursday. Post time for the first of eight races is 11:25 a.m. … There will be carryovers of $9,593.05 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 and $5,237.62 in the $1 Super Hi-5 wagers. Tickets with four of six winners in Sunday’s Rainbow 6 each returned $218.28.
Photos: Hugh McMahon; Polished Gal with Victor Rosales up. (Maryland Jockey Club)