Page McKenney among runners bested by weather
by Frank Vespe
The texts have been a regular thing the last week: “No training at Pimlico tomorrow,” they say (or some variation thereof).
As a result, one of Maryland’s most popular horses — and one who would have been a major player in this afternoon’s Harrison Johnson Memorial Stakes — will spend the afternoon in his stall, rather than on the racetrack.
“He’s doing OK,” Pimlico-based trainer Mary Eppler said of her star pupil, Page McKenney. She said that she decided not to train him over an Old Hilltop strip she described as “horrible” last Saturday, and with the track closed several days this week, he simply wasn’t ready.
Pimlico closed in the face of Tuesday’s storm and has not yet reopened for training; it is scheduled to do so on Sunday. Laurel was closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
And, with tracks throughout the region missing training days because of the weather, Page wasn’t alone. All told, nine horses were scratched from Laurel Park’s five Saturday stakes: three each from Penn National and Parx Racing, two from Laurel, and one from Pimlico.
For some horses, a missed start is no great challenge, as they can simply move on to the next race. That’s not necessarily the case, though, for a salty old campaigner like Page McKenney with no available conditions. For example, the only upcoming stakes race for older horses going a route of ground in Maryland in the coming months is the Grade 3 Pimlico Special on May 19.
Other nearby tracks don’t offer much relief either. If he makes his next start in the mid-Atlantic, it’ll be a while before he races again.
So it’s no surprise that Eppler said she had “no idea” where Page McKenney would make his next start.
Meanwhile, at the track, the good news is that the state-bred Not for Love Stakes and the Private Terms, for three-year-olds, remained pretty much intact.