02/16/2017 1:16PM

Old pros Stallwalkin' Dude, Heaven's Runway battle in General George

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Stallwalkin' Dude has earned more than $1.1 million since September 2014.

Stallwalkin’ Dude and Heaven’s Runway have made 91 starts between them. But at age 7, these old warriors are at the top of their games and figure to have a lot to say about the outcome of the Grade 3 General George at Laurel Park on Saturday.

The $250,000 General George, a seven-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and up, is the last of six consecutive stakes on a 10-race card and will close out both the Rainbow 6 and the 12-percent-takeout late pick five. The Laurel card will be streamed live on DRF.com.

Stallwalkin’ Dude is trained by David Jacobson; Heaven’s Runway is trained by Rudy Rodriguez. Not surprisingly, both horses were claimed by their current connections.

Stallwalkin’ Dude was taken by Jacobson as a 4-year-old for $16,000 in September 2014. He has since earned more than $1.1 million. Rodriguez claimed Heaven’s Runway four starts ago at Saratoga for $62,500. He has since gone 2 for 3, with both wins coming in stakes, and has earned $184,000.

Last year’s General George winner, Page McKenney, is cross-entered in this race and the $75,000 John B. Campbell, but on Friday trainer Mary Eppler said she had decided to run him in the Campbell, which at 1 1/8 miles is a more typical distance for him.

Stallwalkin’ Dude ran a few subpar races last summer but has been in top form since winning the Tale of the Cat at Saratoga. He has since won the Grade 3 Bold Ruler and Gravesend, finished second in the Grade 1 Vosburgh and Grade 3 Fall Highweight, and was third in the Grade 1 Forego and Grade 3 Toboggan.

“He’s as good as he’s ever been,” Jacobson said. “Luckily, the bad weather days have fallen in my favor; he hasn’t missed a day of training, not that he needs that much because he runs a lot. I don’t do a lot with him.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride.

Heaven’s Runway closed stoutly to beat Stallwalkin’ Dude by a neck in the Fall Highweight. Both of his recent wins have come at six furlongs.

“I think the seven furlongs will be okay,” Rodriguez said. “He’s been closing nice for us and looks and acts like it won’t be a problem.”

The General George is more than a two- or three-horse race. Kiaran McLaughlin has entered both Classy Class and Ocean Knight, who is coming off a third-level optional-claiming win.

Classy Class had trouble soon after the start of the Toboggan last time out but was beaten by only 1 1/4 lengths.

“He clipped heels, which is why he dropped back so far,” McLaughlin said. “He’s training very well, and we think he wants the seven furlongs.”

Imperial Hint and Afleet Willy look like the General George pacesetters. Imperial Hint, a rapidly improving horse based at Parx Racing with Luis Carvajal Jr., is coming off a strong victory in the Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel.

Afleet Willy has won three straight races at Laurel for Claudio Gonzalez, who leads the local trainer standings.

General George, race 10

Key Contenders

Stallwalkin’ Dude, by City Place
Last 3 Beyers: 98-100-101

◗ He should settle several lengths off the pace before making his move.

“Earlier in his career I liked the three-quarters for him, but since he ran that seven furlongs to win the Bold Ruler, I don’t think it makes a difference for him anymore,” Jacobson said.

Imperial Hint, by Imperialism
Last 3 Beyers: 100-100-84

◗ A lightly raced 4-year-old, he is 5 for 9 and has improved in each of his recent starts. Carvajal, a longtime assistant to the late Robert Durso, has a small stable at Monmouth each year.

Heaven’s Runway, by Run Away and Hide
Last 3 Beyers: 94-102-91

◗ He won five of his first 39 starts but is 2 for 3 since joining Rodriguez’s stable.