Imperial Hint comes home strong to take the General George

Imperial Hint comes home strong to take the General George

Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Imperial Hint Makes the Grade in General George

Holds off Stallwalkin' Dude for third straight victory.

Raymond Mamone's Imperial Hint made a mild stumble at the start, but recovered to take the lead and never wavered down the lane in the $250,000 General George Stakes (G3) Feb. 18 at Laurel Park

Video: General George S. (G3)

The Florida-bred 4-year-old son of Imperialism is 2-for-2 in 2017, and picked up the first graded win of his career. He won the Jan. 14 Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel, and combined that victory with the General George and a Dec. 17 allowance/optional claiming score at Parx Racing to build a three-race success streak.

“He’s a very fast horse," said jockey Julian Pimentel. "He broke a step slow but right away he recovered himself real quick and he just ran fast all the way around there. He just went on about his business.”

Imperial Hint set opening fractions of :22.61 and :45.28 in the seven-furlong General George, and had 4-5 choice Stallwalkin' Dude to his outside off the turn for home. That rival attempted to close through three-quarters in 1:08.88, but Imperial Hint opened up and held sway by 2 1/4 lengths in a sparkling final time of 1:21.20 on a fast track.

"It looked like he stumbled a little bit out of the gate but he recovered great," trainer Luis Carvajal Jr. said. "I was worried a little bit because I saw the horses that were coming from off the pace, but when he opened up I was very confident.

"After he won his first race I thought he was going to be a nice horse. Now he's doing very well."

Off at odds of 5-2 in a field of nine older horses, Imperial Hint returned $7.60, $3.80, and $3.20 across the board. Stallwalkin' Dude brought $2.80 and $2.20, and Never Gone South ($7.80) completed the trifecta. Following came Ocean Knight , Classy Class, Alfeet Willy, Heaven's Runway, Grasshoppin, and Voluntario.

Defending General George winner Page McKenney scratched to run in the John B. Campbell Stakes earlier on the card; he finished second.

The General George marked the first return to the graded ranks for Imperial Hint since back-to-back 12th-place finishes in the Woody Stephens (G2) and Pat Day Mile (G3) last spring. His connections tried him in those races after he broke his maiden at first asking and then won the Ocala Breeders' Sales Sophomore Stakes. He was bred by Shade Tree Thoroughbreds out of the Lahint mare Royal Hint.

"I have no plans right now," Carvajal said of future race targets. "Just hoping to go back to the barn and see if he's healthy and go from there."