General George Stakes quick hits

Saturday’s 46th renewal of the General George Stakes may not have any star like, say, 1986 winner Broad Brush, but in Cordmaker it offers a horse somewhat reminiscent of 2016 winner Page McKenney. That is, an older runner who’d dominated the local stakes but was still hunting his first graded win.

Will Cordmaker get it? Time will tell, of course, but it won’t be easy. He’s a runner who’s done his best work around two turns shortening up here to a sprint distance. But a historic race like the General George — first run in 1973 at Bowie — would be a good spot to do so.

Big Picture: Like the Barbara Fritchie, the 46th running of the Grade 3 General George will give one runner the first graded stakes win of his career. The most accomplished of the group is the veteran Cordmaker, a 13-time winner who’s earned nearly $840,000 and placed in two graded events.

Two for the money: Trainer Gary Capuano has a pair in this spot. He’ll send out four-year-old Shackqueenking, third in the Fire Plug last out, and Threes Over Deuces, fourth in that same race. The seven-furlong trip may be to the former’s liking; prior to the six-furlong Fire Plug, he’d been chasing Cordmaker going two turns.

Better than ever: Cordmaker may be seven years old, but he’s as good as – if not better than – he’s ever been. The Curlin gelding trained by Rodney Jenkins has won three straight stakes and four of five, and the 102 Beyer speed figure he recorded in winning the Manfuso two back was the highest of his career.

Quotable: “I think he’s more of a racehorse now than he’s ever been,” Rodney Jenkins said. “He used to do things when he felt like it. Now, you can put him in a race, train him for the race and it all comes out pretty good.”

Question of distance: The General George’s seven-furlong distance isn’t the most common, and it’s a question mark for many of these. The only runners with multiple wins at the trip are Cordmaker and Sir Alfred James, each with two wins, though Cordmaker generally seems to do his best work around two turns. By contrast, Threes Over Deuces is 0-for-5 at the trip, and Air Token is 0-for-4.

Bargains: Several of these have come from modest origins to win stakes. Shackqueenking, winner of the 2020 Howard County Stakes and earner of more than $200,000, was a $20,000 yearling. Threes Over Deuces, who won the Dave’s Friend two back and has earned more than $500,000, cost $30,000 as a yearling. Timeless Bounty, who won the Steel Valley Sprint at 59-1 two races back, had been a $15,000 claim two races prior to that. And Jose Corrales grabbed Air Token out of his maiden score for just $10,000; he’s earned most of his nearly-$360,000 bankroll since.

One-two punch: Cordmaker’s the hottest runner on the grounds, and he’s got the hottest jockey in Victor Carrasco. The veteran Carrasco won three stakes on Jan. 29, one with Cordmaker, and he won six races this past racing weekend. He’s ridden Cordmaker in 10 straight. He leads the colony with 20 wins, and they’ve come in just 59 starts, a 34% strike rate. He also has a six-figure edge in purse earnings.

Now horse: One horse moving steadily in the right direction is the Jose Corrales-trained Air Token. The Golden Lad gelding was 7-1 when he won the Maryland Million Sprint back in October, and he’s continued to run well since, earning a near-miss third in the Bender Memorial behind Whereshetoldmetogo and then a solid fourth in the Dave’s Friend. Last out, he blitzed the field by five lengths in a Jan. 21 allowance; runner-up Borracho returned this past weekend to earn a sharp score.

Quotable: “If he runs his race, he’ll be tough,” Corrales said. “When you go in these types of races, you’re always going to have competition and they all want the same thing. As long as he runs his race and everything goes his way, he can get there … and if you can win it’s a plus.”

The Time(less) is now: Timeless Bounty ran up the track last out in the Grade 1 Malibu, but no shame there: winner Flightline ran off the screen. Prior, this one had logged a 59-1 upset in the Steel Valley Sprint, and trainer David Wilson, Jr. said they’d had the General George on the radar since the Malibu. Malcolm Franklin, who rode in the Steel Valley Sprint, will ride here.

Quotable: “[The Malibu] was a tough, tough race,” Wilson said. “We would have been a lot better off if our rider [Malcolm Franklin] could have made it out there. He’s kind of one of those horses where you have to get him to the outside and swing him out. He’s like a pet, but when it comes to riding him, he’s a little different.”

Be prepared: The two Capuano runners are the only two coming from the local prep, the Fire Plug, to the General George. The only horse to run back out of that contest, last-place finisher Studio B, returned to win an allowance/optional claimer at Penn National.

Speed kills: It’s a sprint, but there isn’t a ton of early speed in this one. One place to look for it might be Sir Alfred James. The Norman Cash trainee’s form is all over the map – he’s finished last a long way in two straight – but like the little girl with the little curl, when he’s good, he’s very good. Twice in his career, he’s run 103 Beyers, including a stakes win three back at Turfway. In both those big efforts, he led throughout.

Stakes record: The track record and stakes record are one and the same. Greenspring ripped seven furlongs in 1:20.95 to win the 2010 General George.

General George winners gallery