Yesterday, during Maryland Million Day at Laurel Park, Mary Shunk, director of The Retreat at Beckleysville, received the 2017 Joe Kelly Maryland Million Unsung Hero Award. The award is presented annually by the Board of Directors of the Maryland Million Ltd. in honor of the memory of Joe Kelly. It recognizes honesty, hard work and humility – qualities that serve as inspiration to others.
Shunk is also the founder of The Retreat at Beckleysville, located in Hampstead. She is a Certified Advanced Instructor through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International. She is also the co-director of Equestrian Sports for Maryland Special Olympics and a head instructor with the 4-H Therapeutic Riding of Carroll County.
“It is truly a well-deserved honor for Mary to be awarded the Joe Kelly Maryland Million Unsung Hero Award,” said Kitsi Christmas, president of Maryland Council of Equestrian Therapies (MCET). “She was one of the founding members of MCET, and was president for many years and, along with Rene Dixon, founded the Maryland Challenge Equestrian Trials. Mary always has a smile on her face and is there to help everybody.”
It was Bonus Points, bred by Country Life Farm, that won the 32nd running of the Maryland Million Classic, brought to you by Capital Bank. Owned by Three Diamonds Farm and trained by Todd Pletcher, the 2014 bay colt is by Majestic Warrior (by A.P. Indy) and out of a Not For Love mare, Baby Love.
Bonus Points covered the 1 1/8 mile race in 1:50.50 over a fast main track, the third-fastest Classic in history behind Sumacha’hot (1:50.26) in 2009 and Eighttofasttocatch (1:50.42) in 2013. The Classic completed a happy homecoming for the 24-year-old jockey Nik Juarez, the son of Laurel-based jockey-turned-trainer Calixto Juarez, who earlier won the $100,000 Nursery with Clever Mind and the $125,000 Turf with Spartianos.
Leading rider with 75 wins and nearly $2.2 million in purse earnings at Monmouth Park’s summer meet who will be spending his second winter at Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet starting Dec. 2, Juarez now has four career Maryland Million wins. He also won the 2015 Distaff Starter Handicap on Wild for Love. “It’s special. It’s really great to come back home and just to be back here for a day like this, but to win three is even better,” Juarez said. “I’m just very thankful.”
Over 22,600 people attended this year’s Maryland Million Day, which was the largest crowd since 2010 when over 23,000 attended.