General George: The General George is a 7 Furlong Stakes Race run every year at Laurel Park on Presidents Day. It’s a true horseracing fans type of race: Grade 3 one-turn sprint, yet the 7th panel makes it a little less flashy and more gritty than the traditional 6 furlong sprint. Actually if it was more popular it would be a true sports fans type of race. That is because the race also comes up at a time of year when there is almost a guarantee of bad weather, either ice cold conditions with winds coming from the north or inclement weather with and icy mix coming from the Chesapeake Bay. The often deep fields of salty seasoned veterans gives the race an appeal much like a Bears/Packers game played in late December.
This year is no different; nine hardened veterans are scheduled to step in the gate Monday. The weather forecast is calling for snow showers with a high of 32 degrees and a low of, 32 degrees. Of the nine, there is only one horse who is a four-year-old, Majestic Affair. The rest are between 5 – 7, which is the equivalent to an offence in the NFL all being over 30 years old.
Past winners of the race include names like: Bustin Stones, Bandbox, True Quality, Wrangler, Moscow Monster, Broad Brush among others. These names conger up images of hard nosed middle linebackers like Nitschke, Butkus, Singletary, Marshall, Urlacher and Hawk.
These are horses who for the most part have not gone south to Florida or Louisiana in the winter months like some of their counter parts. Instead when the fall meets end, they grow their winter coats, stay at their home tracks in the Northeast, like Laurel, Parx and Aquaduct, and fire away. Their careers are carved out from grinding away at optional claiming races and overnight stakes races. That is how they earn purse money for their connections and that is how they earn what goes into their feedbag.
On a national scale the General George is by no means a popular race. Even within the confined world of horse racing it is overshadowed by the Southwest Stakes (a Derby Prep race), at run Oaklawn Park. Perhaps in a perfect world the stakes races run on Monday’s like Presidents Day, or Columbus Day would have a feature on regular media outlets like ESPN getting more fans into races like this.
A race like the General George is one of those events that almost perfectly epitomizes the moment, like a great painting or song, when everything perfectly falls into place. What it is is a gritty testament to hardened Northeasterners for getting through the majority of the winter and knowing that if today is the General George than the Met Mile can’t be that far away.
Tomorrow nine horses were entered to run in the General George, which is the 8th race schedule to go off at 3:49. The 1 horse, with the great name Act of Madness ran in Saturday’s John B Campbell Stakes, so he’s out of contention. Lets hope for the sake of the name either the 5, Majestic Affair or the 6, Any Court Inastorm can add their name to the list of winners.
1. Act of Madness
2. Green Gratto
4. Sonny Inspired
5. Majestic Affair
6. Any Court Inastorm
7. Fabulous Kid
8. Majestic Hussar