Toby's Corner, who when last seen handed champion Uncle Mo his first loss in the Wood Memorial (gr. I), makes his comeback in the $200,000 General George Handicap (gr. II) Feb. 20 at Laurel Park.
The now 4-year-old son of Bellamy Road
finds himself in a tough spot, as he will face a group of in-form sprinters including a pair from the barn of Rick Dutrow Jr. A field of seven was drawn for the seven-furlong General George, which is the feature on Laurel’s Presidents' Day card. Post time is slated for 4:24 p.m. EST.
Dianne Cotter’s homebred Toby’s Corner injured his left hind leg after winning the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct last April, costing him a chance at Triple Crown glory. He returned to training for Graham Motion in October and has worked steadily at Palm Meadows in Florida for his return. Motion has assigned Eddie Castro to ride the chestnut colt, who broke his maiden at Laurel Park by nearly 11 lengths as a 2-year-old and won an optional claimer there to begin his sophomore campaign.
“I am very excited but also a little apprehensive because this is a tough spot for his return,” Motion said. “He is the high weight (121 pounds) but at the same time he has run well at Laurel and I love the distance. There are pros and cons to coming back in the General George, but the pros outweigh the cons.”
Toby’s Corner, the 3-1 second choice, also won the Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct last year and was third in the Gotham (gr. III). He has earned more than $700,000 from just six starts.
Dutrow will send out a tough uncoupled pair in This Ones for Phil
and Yawanna Twist
. Six-year-old This Ones for Phil has done his best running in South Florida during his 22-start career, including a victory in the Swale (gr. II) as a 3-year-old. But he rolled by more than three lengths in an optional claimer in 2009 in his only start at Laurel and began 2012 with a sharp three-length allowance score Jan. 12 at Aqueduct. The son of Untuttable
will be ridden by top jockey Ramon Dominguez, if he goes. He is also entered in an allowance race on Feb. 17 at Aqueduct.
Yawanna Twist returned from a seven-month layoff on Dec. 31 to romp by almost seven lengths in an optional claimer at Aqueduct. The 5-year-old son of Yonaguska
is a consistent 4-3-1 in his 10-start career and is three-time graded stakes placed. Mike Luzzi will have the mount.
The 5-2 morning-line favorite is Caixa Eletronica
. The son of Arromanches has won four times since being claimed by Todd Pletcher for Mike Repole last March, including the grade III Westchester Stakes, and is twice grade I placed. He has run twice already during his 7-year-old campaign with a victory in the Rise Jim Stakes in January and a third-place finish in the Toboggan Stakes (gr. III) two weeks ago--both at Aqueduct. Cornelio Velasquez has the call.
“He’s so consistent and tries as hard as any horse we have ever had,” said Pletcher.
The top local contender is Maryland-bred Eighttofasttocatch
, who won five races at Laurel Park in 2011 including four stakes. The son of Not For Love
has not run since capturing the Jennings Handicap in early December. Sheldon Russell rides for trainer Tim Keefe.
“He always runs well fresh,” Keefe said. “We were planning on running in the Evening Attire in New York (Jan. 21) but they had to cancel because of snow. I think there is enough speed in here where he will not have to be on the lead. He is versatile. He has won on the lead and coming from behind. We are definitely stepping him up in company, but he has run well in graded company. He deserves a chance.”
$200,000 General George Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 4:24 p.m.), 3 & Up, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Eighttofasttocatch (MD), S Russell, 115, T L Keefe
2. My Cuz C J (KY), D Rodriguez, 111, K M Cox
3. This Ones for Phil (FL), R A Dominguez, 115, R E Dutrow Jr.
4. Toby's Corner (FL), E Castro, 121, H G Motion
5. Yawanna Twist (NY), M J Luzzi, 117, R E Dutrow Jr.
6. Caixa Eletronica (KY), C H Velasquez, 117, T A Pletcher
7. Fordangshore (KY), J Pimentel, 112, M J Trombetta