With four stakes wins on the Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program at Laurel Park, Sheldon Russell was unanimously selected as Jockey of the Week for October 19 through October 25. The award, which is voted on by a panel of racing industry experts, is for jockeys who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 active riders in the United States as well as retired and permanently disabled jockeys.
Just a month into his return to racing from a broken wrist, Russell put an exclamation mark on his comeback with four wins capped by a record-setting victory aboard Monday Morning Qb in the Maryland Million Classic, trained by E. “Butch” Reid, Jr. With a text-book ride by Russell, Monday Morning Qb hit the wire in 1:48.13 over a fast main track, the fastest Classic since the race was moved to its current distance in 2009.
Russell also captured the Starter Handicap with trainer Dale Capuano’s Jumpstartmyheart in the first race and went on to win the Distaff with Hello Beautiful trained by Russell’s wife, Brittany, and the Turf with Pretty Good Year, trained by Kelly Rubley. Russell also finished third in the Ladies with Mosalah and in the Turf Sprint Handicap with Godlovesasinner.
“It’s just fantastic. I haven’t really been back that long. We sort of came back Preakness week and I was able to pick up a Preakness mount and sort of pick my head up a little bit,” Russell said. “Business has been great, so I can’t really complain. My agent, Marty Leonard, has done a great job.
“Going into today I had nine mounts and looking at all of them, you think they all sort of had a live sneaky outside chance,” he added. “It was good that Dale’s horse put me on a good start to the day. When you win some races early on in the day it sort of gives you a second win and you want to win another one, but four wins is great. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Russell’s weekly stats were 14-5-0-2 for a 35.71% win percentage and 50% in-the-money percentage with total purses of $273,958.
Russell out-polled fellow riders Kyle Frey who tied for second with most wins for the week, Trevor McCarthy who won three stakes races on Maryland Million Day, Irad Ortiz, Jr. who was the leading money-earner for the week and Edgard Zayas who tied for second in number of wins with Kyle Frey.