LAUREL -- Senor Speedy has plenty of velocidas, or speed, in Spanish.
The 5-year-old horse, owned and trained by native Argentinians, proved it in the stretch of the General George Stakes yesterday. He quickened in the final sixteenth of a mile like a polo pony from the Pampas and overwhelmed favored Sunny Sunrise about 70 yards from the finish. He won by two lengths.
Senor Speedy, who chased the nation's best sprinters last year, came from last place in the 12-horse field and set a new stakes record of 1 minute, 21 4/5 seconds for seven furlongs. It was the sixth time in 17 renewals that the General George had been run at seven furlongs and the fourth time it had been carded for older horses.
Fourth at the head of the stretch, Senor Speedy came between horses and ran the last eighth of a mile in a little more than 11 seconds under steady left-hand whipping by jockey Jorge Chavez.
It was the start of a 1992 campaign that the owner, Robert Perez, 53, hopes will end with a year-end sprint championship.
"There's no Housebuster. This is our year," Perez said. Perez purchased the horse two years ago as a 3-year-old in New York. He finished ninth in the 1990 Breeders' Cup Sprint and fourth in 1991. Wayne Lukas originally trained Senor Speedy for Perez, but Perez gave the horse to his current trainer, Alfredo Callejas, shortly before the 1990 Breeders' Cup.
Senor Speedy overcame all sorts of obstacles yesterday. He had not raced since Dec. 21, when he finished second to Shuttleman in the Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct.
"He hates the inner track there," Perez said.
The horse carried high weight of 126 pounds, three more pounds than Sunny Sunrise. He also had to fight his way through traffic, including some slight crowding from Flaming Emperor around the final turn.
Sunny Sunrise's trainer, Gerald Delp, the son of of Bud Delp, offered no excuses. "We just got beat by a better horse," the younger Delp said.
The race set up for the closers. Fighting Notion and Hooliganisim set suicide early fractions, getting the first quarter in 22 1/5 seconds and the half mile in 44 4/5 seconds. After that, Fighting Notion quit. Hooliganisim hung on around the turn, but surrendered at the top of the stretch to Sunny Sunrise. The six furlongs was run in 1:09 3/5.
Sunny Sunrise looked like a sure winner until Senor Speedy exploded with his late run.
Sunny Sunrise was only a slight 2-1 favorite over Senor Speedy. A total of $636 separated them in the win pool.
The General George capped a winning weekend for the Perez-Callejas-Chavez team, which is based at Aqueduct. On Sunday, it won the Busher Stakes with Queen of Triumph. Although the General George was Senor Speedy's first trip to Maryland, the stable won a Maryland Million race last September with Richard's Lass.
NOTES: The General George card ended three consecutive $2 million betting days at Laurel. The total for the Winter Sprintfest topped last year's figure by about $150,000. . . . New Laurel post times start today. Weekday cards begin at 1 p.m.; weekends at 12:30 p.m. . . . Laurel barely had enough daylight to squeeze in its last race yesterday. Post time was 5:47 p.m.. . . Robert Perez first established himself as a leading owner when his filly, Cupecoy's Joy, almost won championship honors in 1982. She recently gave birth to a 1992 foal by Criminal Type.