Participate's third win in the Fantasy Ownership Challenge was the biggest of her career, and it moved her to second in the standings for the earnings contest that began March 18 at Laurel Park.
Owned by Jeff Musgrove and trainer Ann Merryman, Participate on Oct. 21 at Laurel captured the $60,000 Maryland Million Starter Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the turf by 5 3/4 lengths over Beyond Forever and Shifra Magician, who finished in a dead heat for second. The 4-year-old Maryland-bred filly by Include covered the distance in 1:51.29 on a course rated firm.
Participate, who paid $9 to win as the second choice under Jevian Toledo, earned $33,000 for the victory, which took her contest bankroll to $79,633. She trails only Indian Paint, who has earned $105,745 since the contest began in March.
Participate, bred by Dale and Joan Everett, had been trained by Jason Egan through July 28 and had maintained a spot in the top five in the Fantasy Ownership Challenge standings since the first day. Merryman claimed her for $11,000 when the filly finished second July 28.
When asked after the Maryland Million Starter Stakes why she made the claim, she said: "This race."
"She's pretty hyper, and there was a lot of speed (on paper) in this race, so we took off the blinkers," Merryman said of the equipment change. Her son, Michael Merryman, who recently saddled his first horse as a trainer, was in the winner's circle.
Two other contest horses competed in the race. Old Coach Farm's Eyerish Inspired picked up fourth and earned $3,000, while Ram Racing Stable's Pardontori'sfrench checked in ninth but still received $1,200.
(Photo by Tom LaMarra)