Prado, `Wagon' wait, win General George

February 20, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Reporter

Before the Grade II General George Handicap yesterday, jockey Edgar Prado said he just wasn't sure how Silver Wagon would fare.

"I'm on the favorite," he said. "But the horse can't read the board."

Still, Silver Wagon must have had an inkling. He remained calm as several horses brushed past him shortly after leaving the starting gate. And when he found himself momentarily trapped on the inside coming through the turn - as Ah Day bolted to the lead - Silver Wagon waited for an opening to the outside and then came down the stretch as if driven by Kevin Harvick at the Daytona 500.

"I knew I had to go when [Ah Day] went," Prado said.

And Silver Wagon overtook Ah Day, closing in on the finish for a 1 1/4 -length victory in the $300,000 race.

"Yes, it was easy," said Prado, who spent 10 years riding in Maryland before moving to bigger tracks. "The race was good. He broke sharp, a couple horses brushed by us, but it was OK, I wanted to bide my time and then, when he got to the outside down the stretch, he just went real fast."

After a slow opening quarter (23.21 seconds), Silver Wagon covered the seven-furlong distance in 1 minute, 23.13 seconds and paid $3.80, $2.40 and $2.20. Ah Day, whose trainer, King Leatherbury, had been confident of his horse's ability to stand up to Silver Wagon before the race, paid $3.60 and $2.60. Ryan's for Real was the surprise third-place finisher, 1 1/2 lengths farther back, and paid $4.

"[Ah Day] ran his eyeballs out," said his jockey, Ryan Fogelsonger, who was subbing for Mario Pino, who rode Derby prospect Hard Spun in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas yesterday, finishing fourth.

"I am disappointed because he was awesome today," Fogelsonger said of Ah Day. "I wanted to sit behind runners, but there was no pace, so it was on to plan B. Turning for home, I thought we had it won, but the winner is a big-time horse."

Silver Wagon, a 6-year-old gray-roan, is owned by Kassem Masri's Four Roses Thoroughbreds. The horse was acquired recently in a private transaction from Buckram Oak Farm, whose manager, Mahmoud Fustok, died Feb. 9 after being struck by a car while crossing a street in Pompano Beach, Fla.

There was no one in the winner's circle representing Four Roses, but Chip Dutrow was there representing the training and personal family interest.

Dutrow works as an assistant for his brothers Tony, who entered the horse, and Richard Jr., who trains the horse but is serving a 12-day suspension in New York.

And for Dutrow and his family, winning the General George was the highlight of the extended weekend.

The Dutrows are from Hagerstown and Dick Dutrow, father of Chip, Tony and Richard, was one of the top trainers in Maryland during the 1970s, rivaling Leatherbury, Bud Delp and John Tammaro.

`To come back home where our whole family grew up and win both major stakes races - what a weekend!" said Chip Dutrow, who stood in the same winner's circle Saturday after Oprah Winney won the Grade II $300,000 Barbara Fritchie.

But the weekend, yesterday in particular, wasn't without its moments of worry.

When Maryland star Ah Day, the second favorite, went to the lead in the middle of the turn, Chip Dutrow wasn't happy.

"I didn't like it," he said. "I was telling my son, `It's all up to Edgar now. There's nowhere to go.' But that's why we ride Edgar in the big races. He really made a big difference today. Once he got [Silver Wagon] out at the top of the stretch, I knew he'd run [Ah Day] down."

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