02/20/2012 6:09PM

Laurel Park: Yawanna Twist tops Dutrow-trained exacta in General George


Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. exuded tremendous confidence in Yawanna Twist entering Monday’s Grade 2, $200,000 General George Handicap at Laurel Park, and the 5-year-old New York-bred rewarded the trainer and the bettors who made him the favorite by winning the race by a half-length over stablemate This Ones for Phil.

Toby’s Corner, making his first start since winning the Grade 1 Wood Memorial last April, finished third, beaten one length. He was followed in the order of finish by Eighttofasttocatch, Fordangshore, Caixa Eletronica, and My Cuz C J.

Listed as the 4-1 fourth choice on the program, Yawanna Twist actually went off the 9-5 favorite in the seven-furlong race and returned $5.80. Mike Luzzi, a former regular on the Maryland circuit now based in New York, rode the winner, his third General George victory.

It was the first stakes victory for Yawanna Twist, who had previously gone 0 for 6 in such races, including 0 for 5 in graded stakes. He did finish fourth in the 2010 Preakness.

“I hadn’t realized he hadn’t won a graded race until you just told me,” said Dutrow, who watched the race from his Long Island, N.Y. home. “He deserves winning one, that’s for damn sure. He’s a nice horse.”

Yawanna Twist broke sharply from post 5 and chased the pace of 23.07 seconds and 45.57 established by This Ones for Phil, who was running back three days after winning a $100,000 claimer at Aqueduct last Friday. Luzzi put Yawanna Twist on the rail entering the far turn, and he kept him there around the turn. This Ones for Phil was kept two paths off the fence by Ramon Dominguez, and turning for home, Luzzi sent Yawanna Twist through the opening.

Yawanna Twist caught This Ones for Phil inside the eighth pole and outlasted him to the wire. Yawanna Twist, a son of Yonaguska bred and owned by Jim Riccio’s Steel Your Face Stable, covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.38.

“Yawanna Twist wanted to roll early, he broke sharp and was right there,’’ Dutrow said. “Mike did a good job settling him in behind and he ran huge.”

Dutrow was also impressed with This Ones for Phil, who did well to hold second after setting the pace. The all-Dutrow exacta returned $31.20.

“I’m extremely happy with Phil’s race, you got to love that,” Dutrow said. “He just ran a big race and we put him on a van and he shows up again. Turning for him I thought he had them.”

Dutrow said he might consider the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct on April 7 for both Yawanna Twist and This Ones for Phil “depending on who shows up and if we feel we belong.”

Toby’s Corner stalked the pace from fifth and made a four-wide move around the turn. He brushed a little bit with Eighttofastocatch in upper stretch but continued on determinedly under Eddie Castro to finish third.

“I thought he ran great, I couldn’t be happier,” said Graham Motion, trainer of Toby’s Corner. “Naturally, I would have loved to have won, but I really felt if he could hit the board it would be a good effort, and he was coming and coming. I thought he ran super.”