Reeves Thoroughbred Racing's Ournationonparade, making his second start and first since being purchased privately off a narrow loss in his career debut, paid early dividends for his new owners with a commanding 3 ¾-length triumph in Saturday's $100,000 Maryland Million Nursery at Laurel Park.
The six-furlong Nursery for 2-year-olds was among seven stakes and four starter stakes worth $1.02 million that helped comprise the 34th Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program, the groundbreaking concept named for the late Hall of Fame and 13-time Emmy Award-winning broadcaster that debuted in 1986.
Based at Penn National with trainer Bernie Houghton, Ournationonparade ($4.20) was sent off the even-money favorite in a field of 10, covering the distance in 1:09.73 over a fast main track. Stone Courageous, racing first time with blinkers, was second, 3 ¾ lengths ahead of Laddie Liam in third.
Ournationonparade was beaten a neck in his debut after setting the pace and getting caught late by Double Crown, who missed the Nursery with a foot abscess. Dean Reeves purchased both horses after the race.
“I think he just got beat because he was looking at the grandstand and he was a little green,” Houghton said. “Mr. Reeves was smart enough to see him galloping out and he knew he was something special. I told him he just needed that race under his belt and he was going to be a lot better today and he proved it.”
So Street, winner of the Howard County Stakes on the Laurel turf last out, broke quickly from the rail and was in front through a quarter-mile in 22.26 seconds, chased by D C Fireman and Ournationonparade, kept in the clear three wide. Around the turn jockey Inoel Beato set his sights on the leader, taking over after a half in 45.49 and pulling clear through the stretch.
“My jock gave him a great ride. He had me nervous because he was just sitting there but I could see at the head of the lane he had plenty of horse and he was just waiting,” Houghton said. “I wanted him to just wait a little bit because he is green. I didn't want him looking at the grandstand and that kind of stuff. He's a very, very smart horse and he picks things up real easy.”
Houghton trained 2017 and 2018 Maryland Million Distaff winner Crabcakes, recently retired to become a broodmare. He is hopeful of keeping Ournationonparade for the Atlanta-based Reeves, who has horses in New York and Florida.
“I hope so. We haven't discussed that. It's up in the air right now,” Houghton said. “I just met Mr. Reeves today. We had lunch and had a good talk and the horse won, so we'll see.”
Reeves was on hand to see Ournationaonparade, a gelded chestnut son of Grade 2-placed Cal Nation.
“Maryland is building up its program here at Laurel. It's fantastic what Tim [Ritvo] and The Stronach Group have done here in Maryland,” Reeves said. “I like racing here. I've got three Maryland-breds right now and we'll continue to race here.”
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