G. J. Stable's multiple stakes winner Prendimi sped to the lead and fended off 3-5 favorite Tappin Cat the length of the stretch for a gutsy neck victory in Saturday's $150,000 Maryland Million Classic at Laurel Park.
The 1 1/8-mile Classic for 3-year-olds headlined the 36th 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 first Maryland Million victory for Monmouth Park-based trainer Luis Carvajal Jr., coming four years after his first career graded stakes triumph in the General George Stakes (G3) with Imperial Hint , who went on to win four grade 1 races and more than $2.2 million.
"I'm happy to come back and win another one," Carvajal said. "Maybe I will (bring) some horses and stable here someday."
Under jockey Mychel Sanchez, Prendimi ($26.20) completed the distance in 1:50.46 over a fast main track in his third consecutive trip to the Classic. He finished second by a half-length to Forest Fire in 2019 and was last of seven behind Monday Morning Qb in 2020.
"The first time we got beat, (jockey) Paco Lopez beat me. He's my friend," Carvajal said. "The next time he ran, he ran a little poorly but we always had faith in him. He was training very good, so we came back and tried to get the money and we did."
Breaking from post 2 in the field of 8, Prendimi was sent to the front by Sanchez and led through a quarter-mile in :23.61 seconds and a half in :46.84, with 25-1 long shot Ain't Da Beer Cold pressing the pace on his right hip. Prendimi went six furlongs in 1:11.16 as Ain't Da Beer cold began to drop back and Tappin Cat picked up the chase in the clear three wide. The top two straightened for home together and ran side-by-side through the lane, but Tappin Cat was unable to get past.
"He wouldn't let him go by," Sanchez said. "He has some good speed. He's such a big horse and he's a grinder. He goes and goes and goes."
Tappin Cat, who entered the race on a three-race win streak, was three-quarters of a length ahead of The Poser in third. It was a half-length back to Torch of Truth in fourth followed by Dream Big Dreams, Crouchelli, Dashing Lou, and Ain't Da Beer Cold.
A 6-year-old homebred New Jersey-foaled gelding by Dances With Ravens, Prendimi is 6-9-5 in 30 starts with $472,005 in earnings. He is the lone stakes winners from his dam, the stakes-winning Tour d'Or mare Cigno D'Oro.
Of her nine foals, six are winners from as many starters. She also has a 2-year-old gelding by Artful Run named Party At Artie's, a yearling colt by Shame On Charlie, and she foaled a Madefromlucky colt this year.
Prendimi also has won three stakes at Monmouth, including the Charles Hesse III Handicap last August, his most recent victory.
Other black-type winners on the Maryland Million card included Bird Mobberley's Buff My Boots in the Maryland Million Lassie, Vivian Rall's Epic Idea in the Maryland Million Ladies, Gordon Keys' Grateful Bred in the Maryland Million Turf Sprint, Madaket Stables, Albert Frassetto, Mark Parkinson,K-Mac Stable, and Magic City Stables' Hello Beautiful in the Maryland Million Distaff, Joseph Besecker's Buff Hello in the Maryland Million Nursery, Bell Gable Stable's Somekindofmagician in the Maryland Million Turf Stakes, and Corrales Racing's Air Token in the Maryland Million Sprint.