It took a whole calendar year for Admirals War Chest to win another race, but the wait was well worth it. The five-year old gelding led wire-to-wire at the 2016 Maryland Million Classic, repeating as champion. It was the first time in the race’s history that a horse has posted as the winner in back-to-back efforts.
Going off as the 5/2 co-favorite, Admirals War Chest was trailed by the other first choice in Flash McCaul. They hit the quarter-mile at :24.94 with the defending champ pulling out to a four length lead. Big Branch was also in the mix as a 25/1 longshot with Just Jack trailing to fourth as the 9/5 second choice.
Hitting the half-mile at :47.99 and the pole with a time of 1:12.98, the race was well in hand for Coby Calazzo’s star pupil, who opened up the throttle down the home stretch and would not be denied. Admirals War Chest cruised towards the finish line and was even able to let up as he strode to complete the final lengths. In other words, he was untouchable.
The win paid out $7.20, $4.60 and $2.60 across the board for the gelding’s faithful. Bullheaded Boy surged in to second and held for a return of $3.80 and $3.20. Just Jack paid $2.40 in third despite being hyped as the expected victor.
“We haven’t raced for seven weeks, so I was a little concerned, especially with those two 3-year-olds in there. There were some solid horses, but you saw what he did,” said owner and breeder Stephen Sinatra. “The horse likes the lead and there were no challengers out there. I was a little concerned when I saw the :47-and-change half. I got a little concerned, but around the seven-eighths pole I relaxed a little because I saw him pull away. That’s when I said, ‘Oh, my, gosh, he can do it,’ and he did.”
The win was massive for the confidence of Admirals War Chest and his connections and confirmed that he’s one of Maryland’s finest, at least for now.