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Meet the Contenders: Barbara Fritchie & General George at Laurel | Saturday, February 17, 2024

by Jeremy Plonk

February 12, 2024

Maryland’s two biggest sprint races, the tradition-rich February fixtures of the Barbara Fritchie and General George Stakes, will be renewed Saturday at Laurel Park. They are part of four consecutive stakes races on a 10-race program that gets underway at 12:25 pm ET.

Let’s meet the contenders for the Grade 3 $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Stakes (Race 8):

#1-LAST LEAF: Kentucky-based mare has placed in stakes at Keeneland, Churchill, Turfway and Ellis Park with a midpack, stalking style. Four-time stakes winner in her career has lost 13 straight races but has been knocking on the door for trainer Eddie Kenneally.

#2-PRODIGY DOLL: Fifth-place finisher in the past two editions of the Fritchie, this Phil Schoenthal trainee exits a blowout victory over a sloppy track in allowance company. Career mark of 1-for-14 in stakes races, including 8 top-4 finishes in those.

#3-FRECCIA D’ARGENTO: Claimed for $30,000 last May, she has a win and two seconds in 11 starts since coming to Rodolfo Sanchez-Salamon. Well-beaten seventh in the Twixt Stakes, her only stakes bid since – albeit that was at 1-1/16 miles. Name means silver arrow in Italian and according a gray/roan mare.

#4-DISCO EBO: Parx-based mare has won half of her 20 career starts and will be making her first start at Laurel Park. She won last year’s Youngstown Oaks on the road at Mahoning Valley and was third in Aqueduct’s Garland of Roses, so she’s traveled well. Trainer Butch Reid is coming off a big win Feb. 3 in the Withers at Aqueduct with Uncle Heavy.

#5-APPLE PICKER: Since moving to the Brittany Russell stable for the 2023 season, this 4-year-old has become a regular on the Maryland filly and mare stakes scene. Runner-up in Laurel’s local prep, the Willa On The Move Stakes, her first attempt against elder rivals. Versatile running style has seen her victorious on the lead and from significantly off the pace.

#6-INTREPID DAYDREAM: Maryland export returns home after a pair of top-4 placings at Gulfstream Park in the Inside Information and Sugar Swirl Stakes. She’s twice won stakes over this track against restricted company in the Shine Again and Maryland Million Distaff, the latter at the Fritchie distance of 7 furlongs. She reunites with jockey Jevian Toledo, who rode her to four straight wins to end her local schedule.

#7-BLUEFIELD: Most veteran member of this field at age 8, she would be the oldest winner of the Fritchie if successful and the first over the age of 6 since Skipat in 1981. Gulfstream Park-based mare exits a rallying second in the Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes at the Fritchie distance and also won over this 7F trip at Tampa bay Downs in December’s City of Ocala Stakes. Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. took over the duties in 2022 with seven top-4 finishes in 8 starts since. Began her career at Laurel in 2020 and won 3 of her first 4 starts here.

#8-CONTINENTALCONGRES: Daughter of Constitution seeks her first stakes win while returning to the stakes ranks for the first time since September. Her best races have been when she’s able to make the early lead and jockey Horacio Karamanos likely will make that bid with the Mike Trombetta trainee, just as he did in a wire-to-wire November allowance score at Laurel over this same distance. Karamanos aims for a record-tying fourth Fritchie win, something only accomplished by 1980s local star Donnie Miller Jr.

#9-BENEATH THE STARS: She’s won a pair of Laurel allowance sprints at 6 furlongs in her three most recent starts since exiting the stakes ranks. Trainer Lacey Gaudet loses regular rider Jevian Toledo, who jumps saddles to reunite with Fritchie rival Intrepid Daydream. Her 6 career wins at Laurel easily top the field, but all 6 have come in the allowance ranks. She’s 0-for-5 overall in career stakes attempts.


Let’s meet the contenders for the Grade 3 $200,000 General George Stakes (Race 9):

#1-NO CENTS: Consistent stakes sprinter won the James F. Lewis III and Heft Stakes at Laurel in 2020 and has had top-4 finishes in 8 of 11 stakes overall. New Jersey-bred owns five straight trifecta finishes between Laurel and Monmouth engagements. Expected to be involved in the early pace with the rail draw. Trainer Cal Lynch won the 2013 General George with Javerre.

#2-COWAN: One-time turf sprint ace, runner-up in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, he’s found a home on dirt since being claimed by Ramond Ginter, Jr. for $62,500. He’s earned just shy of $1 million despite missing the winner’s circle in all 15 career stakes attempts. He rematches with Greeley and Ben in the General George, finishing three-quarters of a length behind that one in the Dave’s Friend at Laurel.

#3-POST TIME (pictured above): Smashing winner of the Jennings Stakes 20 days ago, this rising local star returns quickly while looking to improve to 6-for-6 lifetime at Laurel. Spouses Brittany and Sheldon Russell team up with this Frosted colt whose average win margin has been right around 4 lengths. A bullet half-mile workout February 11 at Laurel (fastest of 58) indicates that he’s holding form.

#4-NIMITZ CLASS: A winner in 11 of 22 lifetime starts, he returns to his old stomping grounds after being outrun in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup as a 26-1 outsider. But his Laurel form has been exceptional with a 7: 4-2-0 local record, which included 4 consecutive stakes wins here last winter/spring. Returns now under the care of Florida-based George Weaver. The sprint distance will be the question mark as he’s done most of his damage in route races.

#5-SEVEN’S ELEVEN: Distant runner-up to General George rival Post Time in the Jennings Stakes on Jan. 28, he’ll need to make up more than 6 lengths on that one. The Maryland Million Sprint and Bender Memorial Stakes winner is unbeaten in 4 starts at 7 furlongs, so perhaps the shorter trip than the Jennings will help close that gap.

#6-GREELEY AND BEN: At age 10, he’s the senior member of the General George cast, if not the entire nation’s stakes ranks. Last year’s General George winner was 9-year-old Eastern Bay. Hard to knock a sprinter who is 25-for-44 lifetime, but his last several have not been as fast as his best form. Horacio DePaz is his fourth trainer since September 2022 and he hasn’t seemed to get nearly the early foot out of this one as the previous conditioners. The blinkers come off in an equipment adjustment, but he’s run well with and without them in the past. He won 9 straight and 12 out of 13 during a wild run in 2021-’22.

#7-TENEBRIS: Hot hand has won four straight starts and takes the class rise for his first stakes attempt. He’s been victorious in all three Laurel attempts since arriving on the scene in December. Jockey Jeiron Barbosa takes over for the first time and will be this 6-year-old’s fifth different jockey in his last six races.