EightToFastToCatch getting a work in the slop

EightToFastToCatch getting a work in the slop (Photo: Anne Frederick / Maryland Million Ltd)

When we last left our four-legged equine hero, EightToFastToCatch, a local Thoroughbred named for Alex Ovechkin, he had just won the 2011 renewal of the Maryland Million Classic. Just ahead of puck drop against the Panthers at Verizon on Saturday, horsey Ovi will be looking to score his own hat trick, right up the road at Laurel Park.

Since 2011, ETFTC has had 19 races and found the winners’ circle 7 times, most notably with a repeat win in the 2013 Classic. Where was our coverage in those intervening years? Simple – in the 2012 Classic he ran 5th and we were so gripped by NHL lockout paralysis we could barely get out of bed, let alone play the races. I’m sure we have some other excuse for 2013… maybe we blame Oates, but that’s a bad horse pun.

Now an EIGHT year-old, this gelding (don’t ask!), is wrapping up his career, and has one more race on his schedule after today’s mile-and-an-EIGHTH Classic. And if his engine and the Racing Gods have their way, he’ll cross the finish line first on Saturday, ahead of his EIGHT rivals, and get his 3rd Classic win, a rare racing hat trick. The track odds-maker installed his as the prohibitive 3-5 favorite. It may not make dollars and sense to bet on him at such a low price, but we’re going to cheer for him just as loud (and obnoxiously) as we do his namesake.

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Horse Named After Alex Ovechkin wins Maryland Millions

Sylvia Heft poses with jockey Sheldon Russell and her husband Arnold Heft in the winner’s circle. (Photo credit: Karl Merton Ferron)

Craig Brownstein of PuckBuddys writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks.

Next to the Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, the biggest day on the Free State’s racing calendar is a championship series for horses who claim a pedigree connected to Maryland stallion.

Alex Ovechkin horse

Eighttofasttocatch, the horse named after the Russian Machine, is shown here before the race. (Photo credit: Kim Hairston)

In its 26th renewal Saturday, the feature race, the Maryland Million Classic, was won by a runner who claims Russian ancestry. Eighttofasttocatch, a four-year-old chestnut gelding, was named after Caps Captain Alex Ovechkin. “Catcher” is a well-regarded race horse campaigned by Arnold Heft (an NBA ref back in the day), former co-owner of the Bullets who purchased the team along with Abe Pollin in 1964.

According to the official chart of the race, he dragged his feet a little bit in the early going, only to thunder down the stretch to win by nearly two lengths. He “gathered momentum leaving the half mile marker, moved to collar the leader approaching the stretch, kicked clear in upper stretch, responded to solid right hand pressure (a.k.a. the whip) leaving the eighth pole, drifted out slightly near the sixteenth pole and held sway.” That sounds an awful lot like the last half of the Caps 2010-2011 regular season and playoff run, all except for the holding sway part, of course.

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