Page McKenney, a 6-year-old route specialist, posted his first graded stakes victory and first in a sprint Feb. 15 when he wore down Majestic Affair to win the General George Stakes (gr. III) at Laurel Park.
Video: General George S. (G3)
Ridden by Horatio Karamanos and sent off the 2-1 second choice, Page McKenney settled into fourth, just off 3-2 favorite Majestic Affair, as those two tracked the early pace of Green Gratto and longshot Majestic Hussar.
Leaving the turn, Majestic Affair got to the front as the leaders began to back up and was soon challenged by Page McKenney on the outside. With Majestic Affair still leading, those two distanced themselves from the rest of the field and Page McKenney got up late for a head victory. He completed the seven furlongs in 1:24.61.
Page McKenney, trained by Mary Eppler, paid $6.80, $3.40, and $2.40/ Majestic Affair, a Chad Brown-trained gelding coming off a win in the Jazil Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, paid $2.80 and $2.20. It was four lengths back to Green Gratto, who paid $4.80 to show.
The General George was the 16th victory and first at a sprint distance for Page McKenney, a son of Eavesdropper who was claimed for $16,000 in July of 2013 by Adam Staple from the gelding's Pennsylvania breeders, James Bryant and Linda Davis. Later, Bryant and Davis acquired a 10% in Page McKenney, who has earned $1,171,978 and placed 16 additional times in 43 career starts.
"I have ridden a lot of nice horses, but this horse is all heart," Karamanos said. "It was a big test today at seven-eighths."
"He had been training great, even better than before, although he wasn't able to train very much this week because of the (cold) weather. He is amazing. He likes to run on any surface. In fact, he set a track record on the turf," Eppler said. "I didn't expect him to be that close today, but he wanted to run. Even if he did get beat, I would have been so proud of him for trying so hard."
"He ran his race. He just got beat by a better horse today," jockey Kendrick Carmouche said of Majestic Affair.
As impressed as she was with her gelding's sprint win Monday, Eppler doesn't plan on keeping him around one turn.
"I think he's more of a two-turn horse and I will keep him at those distances," the trainer said.
Page McKenney will be pointed to the $75,000 Harrison Johnson Memorial at 1 1/8 miles at Laurel March 19, with tentative plans for future graded-stakes engagements in the Charles Town Classic (gr. II) and Pimlico Special (gr. III) around two turns.