by Frank Vespe
Call him Page McKenney, millionaire.
Page McKenney, the six-year-old Pennsylvania bred son of Eavesdropper, romped to a 3 1/2 length victory in today’s $75,000 Native Dancer Stakes for older runners at Laurel Park, and the win pushed his earnings to $1,021,978.
Page McKenney has now won three straight races and has finished in the money in 22 consecutive races. He sports an overall record of 42-15-12-4.
And all this for a horse claimed for $16,000 in July 2013.
“I know, isn’t that cool?” said Mary Eppler, who trains the horse for Adam Staple and Jalin Stables. Jalin’s principals, Dr. James Bryant and Linda P. Davis, also bred the horse; after claiming the horse, Staple allowed Bryant and Davis to buy back into the horse, who is named for a family member of Davis’s.
In the Native Dancer, Page McKenney broke alertly but jockey Horacio Karamanos wrestled him back off the pace and ultimately back to last. Meanwhile, Warrioroftheroses, at 28-1 the longest shot on the board, was freewheeling by himself through a half-mile in 48.37 seconds and three quarters in 1:13.17.
Karamanos, however, was not worried.
“This is Page McKenney,” said Karamanos with a shrug. “He can do whatever he wants.”
Page McKenney slipped through along the rail to reach a contending position, and then Karamanos swung him three wide for the run to the wire. Once Karamanos asked him, Page McKenney kicked sharply into the lead and drew off to win. Golden Glint was second, Warrioroftheroses held on for third, another 1 3/4 lengths back. Running time for the 1 1/16 miles over a fast track was 1:44.70.
“He’s coming like a machine like he usually did,” said Karamanos.
Eppler was all smiles after the race, though she wasn’t quite counting Page McKenney as a millionaire, as far as she’s concerned.
“So really, I’ve made all but $27,000, so I don’t know how much he goes over,” she said. “I’m not quite counting it yet.”
It’s the first millionaire that Eppler has trained in a career that’s seen her train numerous top runners, including, for a time, Victory Gallop.
She said that no decision had been made on Page McKenney’s next start. “We have to go race by race,” she said.