Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. got an inkling of how good he has it when his charges Yawanna Twist and This Ones for Phil finished one-two in the General George Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) on the Feb. 20 President’s Day card at Laurel.
Yawanna Twist, the 9-5 favorite, defeated his stablemate by a half length in the seven-furlong race to take home the winner’s share of the $200,000 purse for 3-year-olds and up. Yawanna Twist banked $120,000 for New York breeder/owner Steel Your Face Stables, and This Ones for Phil earned $40,000 for the partnership of Paul Pompa Jr., Jack Mandato, and Cast of Characters. The victory was the first in a stakes for Yawanna Twist, who finished fourth in the 2010 Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Ridden by Mike Luzzi, Yawanna Twist chased This Ones for Phil and jockey Ramon Dominguez down the backstretch. Yawanna Twist moved to the rail and held that position to the top of the stretch, then rallied up the fence to win in 1:22.38. Toby's Corner, last year's Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner, finished third in his first start since that race.
“He’s a little racehorse, and you can see his record,” said Luzzi, who started riding Yawanna Twist, byYonaguska, last March. “He tries every time, but we got him great this year. I think he’s probably the best he’s ever been. I committed to the inside down the backside. I know Ramon’s body language, and it seemed like he had a lot of horse and that was the one problem. That’s a nice horse, of course, and Mr. Dutrow is good at that. He likes short rests. When he does it, he’s usually dangerous.”
This Ones for Phil, a previous stakes winner, won a $100,000 claimer at Aqueduct Feb. 17 and, as planned, Dutrow wheeled back him back in the General George. This Ones for Phil sprinted to the lead and fought to the end in a big effort.
“He ran great. We were just second best,” Dominguez said. “I was very pleased with the effort. There really wasn’t a ton of speed and my horse is usually sharp out of the gate, so when he broke out on top I knew we would be on the lead. Rick is amazing. I wasn’t concerned that he just ran the other day. He was not a tired horse at all. He even galloped out strong.”
This was the second General George score for Dutrow, who won the 2004 race with Well Fancied.
“He is a real horse trainer, old-timer kind of style,” said Luzzi of Dutrow. “To be in his barn is unbelievable."
Toby’s Corner, who was scratched from last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) because of a leg injury, stalked the pace in the beginning and finished just a length behind the winner.
“He broke very good,” said Eddie Castro, who was aboard Toby’s Corner. “We just sat on the outside behind all the speed. I asked him to pick it up going into the turn. He was gaining on them slowly. He gave a little spurt at the top of the lane and finished with something left; just couldn’t get to the winner.”
Luzzi won the General George for the third time. A Maryland mainstay before relocating to New York, he won aboard Star Touch (in 1991) and Esteemed Friend (1999).
Ywanna Twist paid $5.80, $3.20, and $3.20. This Ones for Phil returned $5 and $3.60, and Toby’s Corner paid $3.40. The Dutrow horses paid $31.20 as an exacta. and the trifecta was worth $179.20.
Yawanna Twist is out of Twist and Pop, whose sire, Maryland-bred Oliver's Twist, endeared himself to Maryland race fans by running second in the 1995 Preakness.