The $150,000 General George Handicap (gr. II) has attracted a stellar band of older runners. The seven-furlong headliner at Laurel Park Feb. 16 features Fabulous Strike, one of the top sprinters in the country.
Fabulous Strike, the 4-5 morning line favorite and carrying top weight of 127 pounds, is a prolific winner with 12 victories on his resume, including 10 stakes. The Todd Beattie trainee operates out of central Pennsylvania and ended 2008 with wins in the both the Fall Highweight and the Gravesend Handicaps (gr. III) at Aqueduct. With career earnings of $939,412, the gelding would become a millionaire with a win in the General George.
Beattie had considered sending the 6-year-old to Dubai for the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) in March, but decided to keep him in the states for a local campaign. He is owned and bred by Walter Downey’s Tea Party Stable in Pennyslyvania.
Regular rider Ramon Dominguez will be at Oaklawn Park Monday to ride undefeated 3-year-old Old Fashioned in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III), so Edgar Prado picks up the mount on the son of Smart Strike—Fabulous Find, by Lost Code, who finished fifth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita. The former Maryland mainstay rider has won the General George twice during his Hall of Fame career.
Eternal Star won four stakes last year for trainer Mike Trombetta–two at Philadelphia Park and one each at Delaware Park and Saratoga. The Laurel Park-based runner has won half of his 18 lifetime starts, with runner-up finishes in four others. Julian Pimentel is five for eight on the son of Five Star Day. He continues as his rider.
“This has been on our calendar for awhile,” Trombetta said. “Facing Fabulous Strike is a tall task, but it is our home track at a distance he likes. We know there is going to be a lively pace, but my horse is versatile--he’ll run up near the front or he’ll stalk from three or four back.”
Lord Snowdon was a very close second in last year’s edition of the General George, losing to undefeated Bustin Stones by a head. Under the care of Tony Dutrow, the son of Seeking the Gold opened his 6-year-old campaign with a victory in Laurel Park’s Native Dancer on Jan. 3. Jeremy Rose retains the mount.
“He likes Laurel,” said Dutrow. “There are some accomplished runners in here, but he is doing well and I expect another good effort.”
“I like my chances,” added Rose. “Lord Snowdon always shows up and we’ll have plenty of speed to run at. His last effort was a huge one because the track was 100 percent speed favoring that day. We came from last and circled the field. He is on top of his game and Tony will have him ready.”
True Quality, a speedball son of Elusive Quality
from the John Campo Jr. barn, won a hard fought edition of the Paumonok Handicap in his most recent start, his fourth win in nine tries, and finished second just 1 3/4 lengths behind Fabulous Strike in the Gravesend. Five of his past six workouts, from Dec. 23 through Feb. 8, have been bullets. C.C. Lopez will again be at the controls.
“This horse came into the barn in August,” said Campo. “He acts just like he looks on paper. He works fast and he runs lights out. He ran very well against Fabulous Strike in that stakes and ran well again when he won the Paumonok. It’s a short field and Chuckie (Lopez) knows how to ride this horse.”
Broadway Producer, a two-turn turf specialist, has won stakes races on both the grass and the dirt at Laurel. He won the Maryland Million Turf in October and the Jennings Handicap two months later on the main track. Eddie Castro will ride the son of Not For Love for trainer John Terranova.
Malibu Kid prepped for the General George with seven furlong wins at Laurel against optional/claiming company. He’s stakes-placed in races against Maryland-breds. Rodney Jenkins trains the son of Malibu Moon. Travis Dunkelberger continues as his pilot.
“This horse is speedy, but I don’t plan on fighting it out on the front end,” Jenkins said. “We are going to let them go and try to pick up the pieces. He deserves a chance by running 100 and 102 (Beyer Speed Figures) in his last two races. I am very happy with him. This is his best distance and we’ll find out what we have.”
$150,000 General George Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 3:53 p.m.), 3-year-olds and up, seven furlongs (dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Malibu Kid, 113, Travis Dunkelberger
2. True Quality, 117, Charles Lopez
3. Fabulous Strike, 127, Edgar Prado
4. Lord Snowdon, 116, Jeremy Rose
5. Eternal Star, 115, Julian Pimentel
6. Broadway Producer, 114, Eddie Castro