By Katherine O. Rizzo (first published in the May 2022 Equiery)
Thoroughbred racing throughout the world is known as the “Sport of Kings,” with reference mainly to the amount of money it takes to produce a winning horse. Racing lovers acknowledge, however, that the horses themselves are truly the kings – and queens – of the sport.
As of December 31, 2021, there are 28 Maryland-bred Thoroughbred racehorses that are true royalty because each of them have at least $1 million in career earnings. Some of these great horses are still running, others have entered the breeding shed, and still others are running in heavenly pastures. But together they make up an elite list of Maryland-bred Thoroughbred millionaires.
Here are the Top 10 Maryland Thoroughbred Millionaires:
#1 Cigar $9,999,815
Foaled in 1990 at Country Life Farm in Bel Air, Cigar was sired by Palace Music out of Solar Slew, by Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. Bred by Allen E. Paulson, the bay horse was originally owned by his breeder’s wife, Madeleine A. Paulson until she traded him to her husband for a filly named Eliza, the 1992 Eclipse Award Champion Two-Year-Old Filly.
Allen E. Paulson named the colt after a navigational mnemonic for airplanes, as Paulson was a major figure in American aviation and owner of Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation.
Cigar started his racing career as a three-year-old under the training of Alex Hassinger, Jr. He won only twice out of nine starts his three-year-old year, none of them stakes races. The following year, Cigar was sent to trainer Bill Mott who did not race him again until July 1994. Cigar finished third at Saratoga and Belmont before winning an allowance race at Aqueduct by eighth-lengths on October 28, 1994. He continued winning every race after that for nearly two years.
In 1995, Cigar had a perfect season of 10 wins in 10 races including the $3 million purse Breeders’ Cup Classic. The following year, Cigar headed overseas to run in the inaugural Dubai World Cup, which posted a $4 million purse. He won by less than a length to become the world’s highest stakes-winning racehorse with his win streak standing at 14.
Cigar finished his career at the end of his six-year-old season with earnings of $9,999,815. During his career, Cigar earned Eclipse Award titles for Older Male and Horse of the Year in 1995. He won both titles again in 1996.
Cigar retired to stud for the 1997 breeding season at Coolmore Stud in Kentucky. Unfortunately, he proved to be infertile as a stallion and was moved to the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of Champions to live out his retirement. He died on October 7, 2014 from complications after a surgery to correct a spinal osteoarthritis issue.
#2 Knicks Go $8,673,135
The 2016 grey horse Knicks Go, by Paynter out of Marylad-bred Kosmo’s Buddy, retired from racing at the beginning of this year with career earnings of $8,673,135. His final race was the 2022 Pegasus World Cup in January in which he finished second to Life is Good. Had Knicks Go won that race, he would have moved in to the number one spot on the Maryland-bred Thoroughbred Millionaires list.
Bred by Angie and Sabrina Moore at GreenMount Farm in Reisterstown, Knicks Go is owned by the Korea Racing Authority. Sired by Paynter, he is out of the Outflanker mare Kosmo’s Buddy.
Knicks Go spent his two- and three-year-old seasons with trainer Ben Colebrook and made his first start on July 4, 2018 in a maiden special weight at Ellis Park. He won easily by 3 1/2 lengths. That first season, he won two out of six races but finished on the board a total of four times. The following season was less successful with only two seconds out of eight starts. He was then sent to trainer Brad Cox at the end of 2019.
In 2020, he won three out of three starts, and he continued to blossom in Cox’s barn in 2021 when he earned $7,324,140 in a single season. Career titles include the 2021 American Horse of the Year – the highest earning horse in the country – for the season in which he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Whitney Stakes, and Pegasus World Cup. In 2020, Knicks Go won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile to become the sixth horse to win two different Breeders’ Cup races.
Knicks Go is currently standing at stud at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky.
#3 Awad $3,270,818
Bred and raced by Jim Ryan’s Ryehill Farm in Mt. Airy, Awad was foaled in 1990. He was by Maryland-bred Caveat out of Dancer’s Candy, by Noble Dancer. Ryan named the colt after the Palestinian peace activist Mubarak Awad. Awad made 70 starts over a six-year career, winning 14 times, 11 of which were stakes wins.
Trained by David Donk for the majority of his career, Awad’s most successful season was 1995 when he earned $1,207,426 with four wins and three seconds out of 15 starts.
Awad was named Maryland-bred Champion Turf Horse four times (1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997). He won the Maryland Million Turf Stakes in 1993 and he set course records for both the 1995 Arlington Million Stakes (G1) and the 1995 Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap. Standing at only 15.3 hands, Awad beat out high profile runners Sandpit, Tinners Way, and Northern Spur to win the Arlington Million Stakes, after which he faced a 20-race dry spell for wins. Even so, he still managed to earn nearly $1 million racing all over the U.S. and in Japan.
Despite Award’s impressive results, Awad was never named Horse of the Year, as his best seasons were the years Cigar and Smoke Glacken earned those titles.
At the end of his racing career, Awad stood at stud at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City starting in 1999. He then moved to Northview’s Pennsylvania farm in 2005. His most notable offspring are stakes winners John’s Pic, Let Me Be Frank, and Underbidder. Both Let Me Be Frank and Underbidder are Maryland-breds.
Awad retired from stud at the end of the 2006 breeding season and moved to Old Friends in Kentucky where he lived until he was 21 years old. He died of an apparent heart attack in 2011. Awad was inducted in the Maryland Thoroughbred Hall of Fame in 2015.
#4 Concern $3,079,350
In only three seasons of running, Concern earned $3,079,350 over 30 starts with seven wins, seven seconds, and 11 thirds. Bred and owned by Robert E. Meyerhoff, Concern was foaled at Meyerhoff’s Fitzhugh Farm in Phoenix. Sired by Meyerhoff’s Maryland-bred Broad Brush, Concern is out of Fara’s Team, by Tunerup.
Trained by Richard W. Small, Concern spent his two-year-old season racing in Maryland, winning two maiden specials and finishing third in the $60,000 Rollicking Stakes for 2-Year-Old Maryland-breds at Laurel Park. As a three-year-old, Concern finished in the money in all 12 of his starts. His biggest win that season was the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G2). That year, his connections decided to skip the Kentucky Derby to keep Concern fresh for the Preakness Stakes ,where he made a late rush to finish third behind Tabasco Cat and Derby winner Go for Gin.
In 1994, he beat Preakness winner Tabasco Cat to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Concern retired to stud in 1996 at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City. He was moved to the Oklahoma Equine Reproductive Center for the 2004 breeding season and stayed there until pensioned in 2011.
Although his offspring had some success in stakes races, his biggest success as a sire came with a steeplechase horse, the Maryland-bred Good Night Shirt, who won Eclipse Awards for Champion Steeplechase Horse in 2007 and 2008. Good Night Shirt was elected into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2017.
Concern died in 2015 at the age of 24 and is buried at Oklahoma Equine.
#5 Broad Brush $2,656,793
Concern’s sire Broad Brush sits in the number five spot of Maryland-bred Thoroughbred millionaires. Also bred and owned by Robert E. Meyerhoff, Broad Brush was foaled at Fitzhugh Farm in 1983 and is sired by Hall of Fame stallion Ack Ack. Broad Brush is out of Hay Patcher, by Hoist The Flag. Richard W. Small, who also trained Broad Brush’s most successful son, Concern, started the horse in 1985 winning three of his first four starts.
The following year, Small pointed Broad Brush for the Triple Crown with several preparatory races. Although he finished third in both the 1986 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Broad Brush won the Meadowlands Cup, the Wood Memorial, the Jim Beam Stakes, the Pennsylvania Derby, the Ohio Derby, the Federico Tesio Stakes, and the General George Handicap, all as a three-year-old.
As a four-year-old, Broad Brush won another four races including the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (G1) and the Suburban Handicap (G1). He retired at the end of his four-year-old year with career earnings of $2,656,793.
Broad Brush became an outstanding sire and was named Leading Sire in North America in 1994. He stood at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky where he was ranked in the Top 10 Leading Sires for four straight years. In addition to Maryland-bred millionaire Concern, Broad Brush also sired Maryland-bred millionaire Include, and additional stakes winners such as Farda Amiga, Hesanoldsalt, and Nobo True. He also sired the champion mares Broad Appeal, Justenuffheart, and Arlucea.
Broad Brush was pensioned in 2004 and died in 2009 at the age of 26.
#6 Ben’s Cat $2,643,782
A local legend and crowd favorite, Ben’s Cat was bred by Hall of Famer King T. Leatherbury, who was also the gelding’s trainer and owner. Sired by Parker’s Storm Cat, Ben’s Cat was out of Maryland-bred Twofox, who was by Thirty Eight Paces. He was foaled at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City in 2006 and suffered a broken pelvis as a two-year-old. After nearly two years of recovery, Ben’s Cat did not have his first start until age four.
He won his first start on May 8, 2010 at Pimlico in a maiden claiming race. He won his second race a month later at Delaware Park, also a claiming race. Ben’s Cat continued on a win streak that included his first stakes win, the Mister Diz Stakes at Laurel Park. He went on to win the Maryland Million Turf Sprint Handicap for the first time in October of that year. He won that race again in 2011 and 2012.
In a career that lasted eight years with 63 starts, Ben’s Cat won 32 times (26 stakes victories) and finished in the money another 16 times, for career earnings of $2,643,782. He won the Mister Diz Stakes six straight years in a row. He won the Jim McKay Turf Sprint in 2011 and then again every year from 2013 through 2016.
Ben’s Cat was named Maryland-bred Horse of the Year each year for 2011 through 2014. He won the 2017 Secretariat Vox Populi Award, which was established by Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery to recognize horses whose “popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing.”
Ben’s Cat was retired to Chris Welker’s Kentucky farm in 2017. He suffered a serious bout of colic soon after arriving and was euthanized on July 18, 2017 due to post-surgery complications. He is buried on the northeast side of the Laurel Park paddock. Ben’s Cat was featured on the February 2018 Equiery cover.
#7 Richard’s Kid $2,482,259
The 2005 bay horse Richard’s Kid also came from the Broad Brush lines bred by Robert E. Meyerhoff at Fitzhugh Farm. Sired by Lemon Drop Kid (2000 Eclipse Award Champion Older Horse and 1999 Belmont Stakes winner), Richard’s Kid is out of Maryland-bred Tough Broad, by Broad Brush.
Richard’s Kid had a fairly modest start here in Maryland, winning only three out of 10 starts in 2007 and 2008. He was purchased by Arnold Zetcher in 2009 and moved to Hall of Famer Bob Baffert’s barn in California where he began to win major stakes races including the Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) in 2009 and 2010. He earned $915,000 in his 2010 season alone for new owners Zabeel Racing International.
Richard’s Kid spent the 2011 season in Dubai but ran no better than fourth in five starts. He came back to the U.S. in the spring of 2012 and moved into Doug O’Neill’s barn under new ownership. Richard’s Kid finished his racing career in 2013 with $2,482,259 in earnings over 47 starts. He is currently standing for stud at Rancho San Miguel in California.
#8 Safely Kept $2,194,206
Bred by Mr. and Mrs. David Hayden at Dark Hollow Farm in Upperco, Safely Kept is currently the top Maryland-bred mare by earnings of all time. Sired by Horatius and out of Safely Home, by Wining Hit, Safely Kept was foaled in 1986 and won 24 out of 31 starts during a three-year career. Most of her wins were against colts and geldings because there were very few sprint races restricted to females in the mid 1980s. Safely Kept finished in the money 30 out of 31 runs for career earnings of $2,194,206.
Trained by Alan E. Goldberg for owners Barry Weisbord and Jayeff B Stable, Safely Kept won the Maryland Million Distaff Handicap in 1989, 1990 and 1991. She also won the Garden State Handicap each of those years. In her four-year-old season, she bested the best of the boys to win the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Sprint beating notable horses Dayjur and Black Tie Affair. She had run second in that race the previous season.
Safely Kept earned the 1989 Eclipse Award for Champion Sprinter and entered into the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame in 2011. A stakes race at Laurel Park is run each year in her name. Safely Kept was euthanized in 2014 due to the infirmities of old age. She was 28.
#9 Little Bold John $1,956,405
Hal C.B. Clagett bred Little Bold John at Hidden Hill Farm in Edgewater. The 1982 gelding is by John Alden out of Maryland-bred Little Bold Sphinx, by Bold Ambition. Clagett sold Little Bold John to Jack Owens after the gelding’s fourth start. MHC-Industry Professional member Jerry Robb trained him during his whole career and purchased the gelding from Owens in 1990.
Little Bold John ran 105 times over nine seasons, the most of any of the millionaire horses, winning 38 times. Twenty-five of those wins were stakes victories. He is ranked fourth in terms of stakes victories for Thoroughbreds in North America.
Big wins include the $200,000 General George Handicap (1989) and $200,000 Maryland Million Classic (1987), both run at Laurel Park. Little Bold John finished his career at the age of 10 with $1,956,405 in career earnings. Robb gave Little Bold John back to Clagett in 1996 and the horse moved back to Hidden Hill Farm but spent the last few years of his life at Weston Farm in Upper Marlboro. He died in 2003 of colic at the age of 21.
#10 Include $1,659,560
Rounding out the Top 10 Maryland-bred Thoroughbred Millionaires is another Broad Brush offspring, Include. Bred by Robert E. Meyerhoff at Fitzhugh Farm, the 1997 horse is by Broad Brush out of Illeria, by Stop The Music. Meyerhoff remained Include’s owner throughout his career. Include won 10 out of 20 starts including the 2002 Pimlico Special (G1), the 2001 New Orleans Handicap (G2), and the 2001 Massachusetts Handicap (G2).
Include started out his racing career in 1999 with only a third place finish out of two starts for his first trainer, Richard W. Small. Meyerhoff moved him to Bud Delp’s training shed for the 2010 season, where Include earned his first win, a seven furlong maiden special at Laurel Park. He raced primarily at Laurel Park that season before wining the Vincent A. Moscarelli Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park in August.
The following year, Include finished in the money eight out of nine starts, winning five times, to amass $1,435,400 in a single season. He ran an additional four times in 2002, winning once to bring his career earnings up to $1,659,560.
In 2003, Include entered the breeding shed at Airdrie Stud in Kentucky. His most notable offspring include Prioress Stakes (G1) winner Her Smile and Kentucky Oaks (G1) runner-up St. John’s River. Include also stood at Haras La Biznaga (2009-2011) and Haras La Providencia (2013) in Argentina, which earned him the Champion Sire in Argentina title in 2015.
Include was pensioned at the end of the 2021 breeding season.
Maryland’s Remaining Millionaires
#11 Valley Crossing (1998 horse, Private Account x Chic and Sassy)
#12 Our New Recruit (1999 horse, Alphabet Soup x Delta Danielle)
#13 Aloha West (2017 horse, Hard Spun x Island Bound)
#14 Heros Reward (2002 gelding, Partner’s Hero x Life Passage)
#15 Shine Again (1997 mare, Wild Again x Shiner)
#16 Cathryn Sophia (2013 filly, Street Boss x Sheave)
#17 Delaunay (2007 gelding, Smoke Glacken x Perilous Night)
#18 Ten Keys (1984 horse, Sir Ivor Again x Mabs a Babs)
#19 Cherokee’s Boy (2000 horse, Citidancer x Charokee Wonder)
#20 Homebuilder (1984 horse, Mr. Prospector x Smart Heiress)
#21 Under Counter (2005 horse, Stravinsky x Counter Cat)
#22 Sharing (2017 filly, Speightstown x Shared Account)
#23 Dave’s Friend (1975 gelding, Friend’s Choice x Duc’s Tina)
#24 Eighttofasttocatch (2006 gelding, Not For Love x Too Fast Too Catch)
#25 Good Night Shirt (2011 gelding, Concern x Hot Story)
#26 Jameela (1976 mare, Sambunctious x Asbury Mary)
#27 Silmaril (2001 mare, Diamond x Kattebuck)
#28 Urbane (1992 mare, Citidancer x Dumfries Pleasure)
Statistics for this article gathered from Equibase.com, Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, National Racing Hall of Fame & Maryland Thoroughbred Hall of Fame.