11/14/2015 4:50PM

El Kabeir by a nose in City of Laurel

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Maryland Jockey Club photo
El Kabeir (No. 2) and jockey Cornelio Velasquez win the City of Laurel Stakes on Saturday.

LAUREL, Md. – El Kabeir turned in a gutsy effort to win a three-horse photo in the $100,000 City of Laurel Stakes at Laurel Park on Saturday. The City of Laurel was one of five stakes on the undercard of the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.

The City of Laurel was the second start for El Kabeir since returning from a five-month layoff. Owned by Zayat Stables and trained by John Terranova, El Kabeir was entered in the Kentucky Derby but was scratched because of a foot issue.

El Kabeir stalked the pace in his Oct. 31 comeback race, the Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Belmont Park, but tired to finish last of five. El Kabeir came out of the Bold Ruler so well that Terranova brought him back on two weeks' rest in the City of Laurel.

"Originally, this race was our first thought for his comeback, but the Bold Ruler came up light, so we decided to go there," Terranova said.

In the City of Laurel, El Kabeir broke well but ended up racing along the inside early behind the pacesetters under Cornelio Velasquez. He angled between horses on the far turn, went farther out in the track for the stretch run, then persevered to just get up outside of horses to win a tight finish.

"He had a tough inside trip today," Terranova said. "He's just getting back to the races. A lot of people have said that he's a superior one-turn horse, but we might just have to stretch him back out. That's what he's showing me. I thought he thrived on the distance last spring."

El Kabeir paid $4.20 to win as the favorite in the seven-horse field. He completed seven furlongs in 1:23.58. The early splits were 22.92 seconds, 45.95, and 1:10.62.

Roxbury N Overton pressed the early pace outside of second choice Savoy Stomp, continued to battle for the lead with Fortuitous Path after Savoy Stomp dropped back, then just missed by a nose. It was another nose back to Duff, who was outrun early but rallied up the inside in the stretch.
Fortuitous Path weakened to finish fourth. Savoy Stomp finished last.

Richard W. Small Stakes: Page McKenney wins easily

Page McKenney scored an easy victory in the $100,000 Richard W. Small Stakes under Horacio Karamanos. The win was the 12th since trainer Mary Eppler claimed him for $16,000 in July 2013. Page McKenney is now less than $80,000 away from $1 million in earnings.

Page McKenney finished second in the Claiming Crown Jewel last December at Gulfstream Park, but that race isn't an option this year. He has been good for so long that he is no longer eligible for that race because he has not started for a claiming price since September 2013.

Eppler said she was not sure where Page McKenney would start next, but the $100,000 Queens County Stakes at Aqueduct on Dec. 19 is a possibility. Eppler said she also would look at the Grade 2, $250,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles on Nov. 28. The Laurel Park winter stakes schedule is due to be released soon.

Page McKenney stalked the early pace in the 1 1/8-mile Small, took the lead three wide entering the stretch, and drew off to win by 4 3/4 lengths while not being ridden hard late. Strong Stipulation finished second, a length in front of Catholic Cowboy.

Page McKenney paid $3.80 and was timed in 1:50.26.

Smart Halo Stakes: Lost Raven best at 4-5

Lost Raven pressed the pace and then pulled away in the stretch to win the $100,000 Smart Halo Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on Saturday, the first of six stakes on the Laurel Park card.

Trained by Todd Pletcher and owned and bred by Mike Repole, Lost Raven pulled away to win the six-furlong race by three lengths under Manny Franco. She paid $3.80 and was timed in 1:11.09 over the fast track.

Lost Raven came into the Smart Halo off a winning debut at Belmont Park in a $50,000 maiden-claiming race.

Twirl Girl, the 3-1 second choice, finished second, 3 1/4 lengths ahead of third-place Table Jumper.