Javerre the Victor in Eventful General George
The 4-year-old Outflanker gelding gamely held off a late run from California shipper Brigand, who was later disqualified from his second-place finish and placed fifth for causing Associateto clip heels and unseat rider Erick Rodriguez shortly after the start.
Neither Associate nor Rodriguez appeared seriously injured in the incident; Rodriguez walked off the track and Associate continued racing at the back of the field.
Jockey J.D. Acosta was in the saddle for the first time aboard Javerre, who came off his first start of the season, a Jan. 21 runner-up finish in the Native Dancer Stakes, to give trainer Cathal Lynch his first graded-stakes score.
"I'm so glad to win my first graded stakes," Lynch said. "I got beat a nose in a grade II in New York last year, and I've been just wanting to win one ever since."
The winner had shipped to Laurel for his three previous starts with on-the-board efforts in the Maryland Million Sprint, City of Laurel Stakes, and the Native Dancer Stakes. The General George was his second stakes victory–he took the 2012 New Jersey Breeders Handicap at Monmouth Park–and first graded- stakes score.
"After his race in the City of Laurel (won by Brigand), I thought we had the best horse that day," Lynch said. " He was stuck down on the inside the whole trip, didn't get out to run until real late, and had so much left past the wire, we put this race on our map and decided to take a chance here."
Javerre, off at odds of 6-1, pressed a pace set by Il Villano as 6-5 favorite Brigand did not take the lead and was an unexpected fourth. The front-runner clicked off fractions of :23.14 and :46.16, then got three-quarters in 1:10.65 as Javerre began a strong outside run.
"When I saw Il Villano go to the front I was worried a little bit because I know that horse can run, but when I asked mine (to make his move), he took off," Acosta said. "I never rode him before, but I've been on him a couple times in the morning and he worked awesome. I just looked for him to run the way he worked, and he did."
Javerre advanced in the two path to engage Il Villano entering the stretch, opened a clear advantage approaching the sixteenth pole, and dug in under brisk urging to hold off the closing Brigand in a final time of 1:23.81.
After a stewards' review during which it was determined that Brigand came out and bumped Associate leaving the chute, the official order of finish was listed with Javerre, Il Villano, and Broad Rule completing the trifecta.
Javerre returned $15.80, $6, and $4.60, while Il Villano returned $3.40 and $2.60 and Broad Rule paid $7.40. Fiddlers Afleet and Brigand completed the order of finish; Isn't He Perfect and Thunder Lord scratched.
Bred by Gunsmith Stables out of the Touch Gold mare Our Fantene, Javerre improved his career record to 5-2-2 from nine starts with earnings of $323,170. He has never finished off the board.
"He's just learning to be a racehorse," Lynch said. "He has gotten better every start for us. We just thought the way he came out of his last race we should go for the big money, take a shot at it. We're very grateful we had a good day."
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