The first name of a jockey was reported incorrectly in a stor and photo caption about the General George Stakes at Laurel Race Course in yesterday's Sun. The jockey's name is Russell Baze.
The Sun regrets the error.
LAUREL -- The General George Stakes was a graded evenfor the first time this year, but the highest marks still went to a local runner.
Maryland-based Star Touch came flying from last place under jockey Michael Luzzi and won the spill-marred, $200,000 Grade II race over favored Profit Key at Laurel Race Course yesterday.
The margin was a nose in the co-feature of Laurel's first Winter SprintFest, which also showcased Fappaburst's victory over highly regarded Devil's Orchid in the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap for older females.
Star Touch was well clear of the trouble at the eighth pole where Frozen Dew, with Robert Colton riding, fell, rolling into Bet the Pot and jockey Richard Baze.
Bet the Pot also went down, but reports indicated that the jockeys and horses were not seriously hurt.
Meanwhile, Laurel's jockey leader and Star Touch roared past the field in the last of seven furlongs, overtaking second choice Fire Plug, outsider Sunny Sunrise and, finally, Profit Key, providing trainer Eddie Gaudet with his biggest payday. Owner Theodore Sabarese got $120,000 for the victory.
The outcome continued the trend of local domination of the General George over name horses. Profit Key, trained by Wayne Lukas, was one of last year's top 3-year-olds, but has
not won since the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park last June.
"He just breaks slow, that's the way he is," Luzzi said of the French-bred Star Touch, whose most recent victory was in the Maryland City Handicap on Nov. 17.
"He was dead last down the backstretch [nearly 10 lengths back], but he settles in stride and comes on. Six or 6 1/2 [furlongs] might be too short for him."
Gaudet thinks a mile may be the best distance for Star Touch, but agreed that "he is a sprinter. We've been letting him linger and make a late run. He's changing his style."
Fire Plug, who has been in the money 46 times in 50 lifetime starts, had beaten Star Touch four consecu
tive times, and those matchups weren't lost on Luzzi.
"He's beaten me by two noses [in the last three meetings]," the jockey said. "I said, 'We gotta get him.' "
Santos Chavez, on Fire Plug, said his horse was "a little tired" in the final strides.
The temperature was 23 degrees at post time of the first race, but felt considerably colder in the brisk wind.
vTC Nevertheless, Laurel and the simulcast at Pimlico handled $2,597,371, tops since Breeders' Cup day Oct. 27. The combined attendance was 15,166.