Post Time surges to General George victory

Ellen Charles, who races as Hillwood Stable, has been around some pretty good horses in 20 years of racing, including millionaire Cordmaker, Grade 3 winner Bandbox, and local stars like Shimmering Aspen and Phlash Phelps.

Post Time
Post Time powered home to win the Grade 3 General George. Photo by Jim McCue.

But, of Post Time she says in a conspiratorial tone, “I think he’s the best I’ve had. He’s been amazing.”

The four-year-old Post Time, who has yet to put a foot wrong in a brief, eight-race career, did his part to validate that sentiment Saturday, overcoming traffic in upper stretch to power to a three-length victory in the $200,000, Grade 3 General George Stakes at Laurel Park.

It was Post Time’s first graded win and seventh win overall in eight lifetime outings. The win pushed his lifetime earnings to $417,910.

The win also capped a stellar day for trainer Brittany Russell and her husband, jockey Sheldon Russell. The duo swept the day’s two graded races, with Apple Picker benefiting from an unexpectedly lively pace to rally past her rivals to win the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie one race prior.

“It’s huge, right?” Russell said of the back-to-back graded wins. “That was awesome.”

In the General George, Seven’s Eleven, with Angel Cruz in the irons, set a modest early pace while taking only token pressure from the Pennsylvania-bred Nimitz Class, who had made his prior start in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup. Seven’s Eleven, four-for-four at the General George’s seven-furlong distance prior to today, breezed the opening quarter-mile in 23.81 seconds and maintained a half-length advantage after a half-mile in 46.61.

Those tepid early fractions left Seven’s Eleven, winner of two Maryland-restrcited stakes last fall, with plenty in tank as the field turned for home, and he began to inch away in the lane.

Sheldon Russell, aboard Post Time, found himself in fifth and behind a wall of tiring horses in upper stretch. 

“I’d say we were a little worried shortening back up to the seven-eighths. There wasn’t a whole lot of lightning-fast speed in the race, so my goal was to keep him close enough,” Sheldon Russell said. “I felt like he traveled good. If anything, I felt like we had to rush him a little bit but once I got him clear at the eighth pole he spurted clear and showed his true class.”

Russell got his mount outside of rivals nearing the eighth-pole, and Post Time did the rest, powering home three clear and stopping the timer in 1:23.33 for seven-eighths on a fast main track. Seven’s Eleven held second, and 24-1 outsider Tenebris was third.

Post Time, at 3-10 the day’s shortest-priced favorite, paid $2.60. The exacta returned $3.30 on a one-dollar wager.

Post Time, a Frosted colt, is out of the stakes-winning Fairbanks mare Vielsalm. He was bred in Maryland by Dr. and Mrs. Tom Bowman, Dr. Brooke Bowman, and Milton Higgins, III.

Jockey Sheldon Russell aboard the victorious Apple Picker. Photo by The Racing Biz.

Charles has made something of a habit of winning the General George. Post Time’s win was her third in the fixture in the last decade, following Bandbox’s 2014 triumph and Cordmaker’s win in 2022.

“That whole thing [with Bandbox] was really special,” Charles remembered. “I’d had some other nice horses, but he was my first really good one. And then of course, our wonderful Cordmaker.”

The race prior to the General George, Apple Picker was last after a half-mile before rallying to win by a length, edging Last Leaf and longshot Prodigy Doll in 1:25.22 for seven furlongs.

Apple Picker, for Michael Dubb, won for the fourth time in 12 starts and pushed her bankroll to $330,783. It was her first graded win and second stakes win overall.

“I gotta give a lot of credit to the guy that helps her in the morning, Sergio,” Brittany Russell said. “I mean, she’s a very difficult filly to gallop, and something’s gone right in the last three weeks. Even Sheldon said today, like, she was just better in the warm up, just everything.”

Apple Picker paid $12.40 to win and topped an exacta that returned $20 for a one-dollar wager. Post time favorite Bluefiedl finished fifth.