02/22/2017 1:54PM

Imperial Hint provides small stable with big win in General George

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Thee 4-year-old Imperial Hint wins the General George, giving trainer Luis Carjaval and owner Raymond Mamone their first victory in a graded race.

Parx-based horseman Luis Carvajal Jr. said he was relieved after Imperial Hint won the Grade 3 General George last Saturday at Laurel Park. The win was the first in a graded race for the horse, trainer, and owner Raymond Mamone.

“For me, having a small stable, it is a big deal to win a race like this,” Carvajal said Monday. “Going to the races that day, driving to Laurel, I knew he had a shot, and I was very nervous.”

As it turns out, Carvajal had no reason to worry. After getting his feet under him, Imperial Hint went to the lead and set reasonable fractions of 22.61 and 45.28 seconds. He came home fast, getting six furlongs in 1:08.88 and completing seven furlongs in 1:21.20 while holding off even-money favorite Stallwalkin’ Dude in the final quarter-mile to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

In comparison, By the Moon went a half in 45.34 in the preceding race, the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie, before being nailed on the wire by High Ridge Road in a final time of 1:22.50.

Imperial Hint earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 105 in the $250,000 General George, jumping five points from his previous two starts, a 3 1/4-length victory in the Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel and a six-length score in a second-level optional-claiming sprint at Parx.

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Imperial Hint is now 6 for 10 with $349,000 in earnings. Carvajal said he and Mamone had not yet settled on a next race for the 4-year-old son of Imperialism.

“When we got back to the barn late Saturday, he was a little tired, but he looked good,” Carvajal said. “He seems like he knows he won a big race. He’s a little horse, but he’s walking around the barn today like a big shot.”

Carvajal only worked Imperial Hint once between the Jan. 14 Fire Plug and the General George – a slow three furlongs in 38.40 in the mud at Parx on Feb. 12.

“He’s very sound, but I have learned he does not need too much between races,” Carvajal said. “He puts a lot into his gallops. Whenever you work him, he gallops out strong. If I want to work him five furlongs, I send him a half-mile because he will get the rest of his exercise when he gallops out. I worked him three furlongs for the General George just because I wanted him to stretch his legs a little bit.”

Winning the General George was especially meaningful to Carvajal because he and Mamone have known each other 20 years and are good friends.

“Mr. Mamone lost his wife a few years ago, and it was very tough on him because, you know, they would go to the races together and then go out to dinner,” said Carvajal, a 44-year-old native of Chile. “After this horse won his first two starts, we were getting a lot of offers to buy him, and he told me that he had had a dream where his wife was talking to him, and she said for him to live his dream, to do what made him happy, and that is part of the reason why he kept this horse.”