Our Chelsea Stable’s Greenspring made it a perfect 3-for-3 at Laurel Park, as he came from just off the pace and collared Digger in mid-stretch to take the $150,000 General George Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) in track record time Feb. 15 despite a driving snowstorm.
A six-length winner of the Native Diver Stakes in his season debut Jan. 2 in Maryland, 5-year-old Greenspring captured his first graded stakes while being sent off as the 6-5 favorite in a field of six. Jeremy Rose rode the son of Orientate for trainer Chris Grove, who swept both graded stakes on the card when Sweet Goodbye scored the $150,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) less than a half hour later.
Still recovering from a pair of brutal snowstorms a week ago, Laurel was in the midst of another winter storm when the seven-furlong General George went to post. Repole Stable’s Digger, who was 6-3-1 from 11 starts at Laurel, broke sharply from post 1 and after a brief duel with Malibu Kid down the backstretch, gained the lead under Mile Luzzi. The 6-year-old gelding posted solid opening fractions of :22.67 and :45.45, while Greenspring rated well in third, just behind Malibu Kid.
Greenspring made his four-wide bid as they made their way around the turn and was breathing down Digger’s neck by the time they reached the top of the lane. With right-handed urging from Rose, the bay horse went right by his rival and edged away nearing the sixteenth-pole. He hit the wire 1 1/2 lengths in front of Digger in a final time of 1:20.95 on a fast track. Ah Day was another length back in third.
The previous seven-furlong track record at Laurel was held by Tappiano, who ran 1:21.40 in 1989.
Greenspring, unraced at 2 and 3, notched his sixth win from eight career starts and has never been worse than runner-up. In his only other graded stakes effort he was second by a half-length in the Fall Highweight Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct last November. Greenspring has now earned $235,780.
Bred in Kentucky by Formal Gold Partnership, Greenspring is out of the Seattle Slew mare Violet Lady. He was an $85,000 yearling at the Keeneland September 2006 yearling sale.
Greenspring paid $4.40, $2.20, and $2.10. The exacta (5-1) returned $9 and the trifecta (5-1-6) was $36.80.
One race later in the Barbara Fritchie for fillies and mares at the same distance, William Harris’ Sweet Goodbye got up the final strides to earn a head victory in a thrilling three-way photo over Pamona Ball and Cuvee Uncorked.
With J. D. Acosta in the irons, Sweet Goodbye raced near the back of the field down the backstretch as Huge and Pamona Ball dueled through splits of :22.83 and :45.60, with Cuvee Uncorked sitting just off the two leaders in third. By the time they reached the eighth-pole Pamona Ball and Cuvee Uncorked were locked in a battle and those two carried the full field of 14 into the stretch.
Pomona Ball held a short advantage through much of the final furlong, but Weathered was gaining along the rail, and Sweet Goodbye, Super Slash, and Hour Glass were all charging from the outside. Sweet Goodbye poked her head in front just before the wire, getting up over a tough luck Pomona Ball. Cuvee Uncorked was another nose back in third. The final time was 1:21.81.
“What a feeling,” Grove after Sweet Goodbye crossed the finish line. “The two biggest horses in the barn win the two biggest races in Maryland this year. I knew Sweet Goodbye was ready for a big one and we believed in Greenspring.
"I galloped Who Wouldn’t when he won the General George (1995) and it was such a great feeling. Silmaril finished second (2007) and third (2008) in the Fritchie. To win the Fritchie is extra special being a Frederick native. Barbara Fritchie is an icon in Frederick. I ate at the Barbara Fritchie Restaurant last night.”
A 5-year-old daughter of Louis Quatorze—Thirty Eight Steps, by Thirty Eight Pieces, Sweet Goodbye entered the Fritchie off a win in the Jan. 9 What a Summer Stakes at Laurel. She's now won for the ninth time in 13 career starts and increased her bankroll to $394,072. The bay mare was bred in Maryland by her owner.
Sweet Goodbye paid $14.20, $6.20, and $6.20. The exacta (8-5) returned $152.60 and the trifecta (8-5-7) was $1,039.80.
Silmaril, a veteran mare who loves to win races, rallied from last to first in the home stretch to upset the field in the $200,000 Endine Stakes (gr. III) for fillies and mares at Delaware Park Sept. 8.