Favored Don Six has fast chance in General George

9-5 choice today at Laurel in Grade II, $200,000 race coming off 2 stakes wins

Horse Racing

February 21, 2005|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Scott Lake knows fast horses. He trained Thunderello and Shake You Down, who finished second and third, respectively, in Breeders' Cup Sprints.

Today at Laurel Park, Lake will saddle the horse he considers perhaps the fastest of all: Don Six. The 5-year-old speedster is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the Grade II General George Handicap, a $200,000 race Lake won two years ago with My Cousin Matt.

"The only thing that can get him beat is an act of God - snow or they cancel the race or something," Lake said. "If he continues going the way he's going, I think absolutely he could win the Breeders' Cup Sprint."

Lake has trained Don Six, a Florida-bred son of Wild Escapade, for only the past two of his 24 races. He said the horse's former trainer, Frank Generazio Jr., asked him to take over last fall after Don Six finished eighth in the Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct. Generazio's wife, Patricia, owns and bred the horse.

"He's a great big, good-looking horse that we thought had potential to move forward," Lake said. "He's just really started to bulk up and fill out."

Lake said Equipoise, an anabolic steroid he uses on most of his horses, could be the reason for that. Equipoise is a commonly used, acceptable medication for horses.

Lake said Equipoise usually enhances their appetites and makes them more aggressive. Under Lake's care, Don Six has won two straight six-furlong stakes at Aqueduct.

"He's getting better every single day," Lake said.

Nine horses have been entered in the seven-furlong General George, and all but two have come from out of state: Taste of Paradise from California, Saratoga County from Florida, Private Horde from Kentucky, Don Six and Unforgettable Max from Pennsylvania, and New York Hero and Houston's Prayer from New York.

Saratoga County, who won the Grade III Mr. Prospector Handicap last month at Gulfstream Park and the Grade III Gotham Stakes last year at Aqueduct, is second choice in the morning line at 3-1. The local horse with the best chance of upsetting Don Six is Gators N Bears, listed in the program at 4-1.

Stabled at Laurel Park, the 5-year-old Gators N Bears hasn't won since June, and he ran second and fourth to Don Six in the two stakes at Aqueduct. His trainer, Leo Nechamkin II, was asked how Gators N Bears might turn the tables on Don Six.

"He's coming to our home turf now," Nechamkin said. "That gives us a little bit of an advantage, because we train over this track. When I took `Gator' to Saratoga, the announcer said we'd be at a disadvantage because we hadn't trained over the track. He was right."

At Saratoga last August, Gators N Bears finished third in the Grade II Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap. Speightstown, last year's champion sprinter, won the race.

Nechamkin said he also believes the added distance of the General George will help Gators N Bears. It's an eighth of a mile longer than the recent stakes Don Six won in New York.

And if a horse runs with Don Six early, then that will help Gators N Bears' late run, Nechamkin said.

"But you can talk all you want," Nechamkin said. "The horses have to go out and run. That's why they run these races."

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