02/15/2016 5:09PM

Page McKenney shows off sprint chops in General George

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Page McKenney, with Horacio Karamanos aboard, edges favored Majestic Affair to win the Grade 3 General George Stakes on Monday.

Page McKenney killed two birds with one stone on Monday at Laurel Park. He scored his first graded stakes win in the Grade 3, seven-furlong General George while also proving he can be effective in races shorter than a mile.

Page McKenney had not run in a race shorter than a mile since he finished second while racing for a $15,000 claiming tag in a six-furlong Pennylvania-bred maiden race at Penn National in March 2013. Trainer Mary Eppler and owner Adam Staple claimed him for $16,000 out of a nonwinners-of-two the following summer and he is now 15 for 29 for them. He went over $1 million in earnings by winning the 1 1/16-mile Native Dancer at Laurel in his prior start. He has not finished worse than third in 23 consecutive races, dating back to April 2014.

Eppler had entered Page McKenney in Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile John B. Campbell, a race in which he would have been heavily favored, but she ultimately decided to go for the General George.

“It was a big gamble,” Eppler said. “But last week we didn’t have a lot of training and I knew he would get sharper and sharper. The cold weather Saturday was also a consideration.”

Monday’s card at Laurel was held under difficult conditions, too, with snow falling until late in the card.

Green Gratto set the pace in the $250,000 General George with 3-2 favorite Majestic Affair and 12-1 Majestic Hussar in close attendance to his outside. Page McKenney also raced forwardly while tucked in along the rail. On the far turn, Majestic Hussar moved up to challenge Green Gratto while Majestic Affair dropped back slightly.

Entering the stretch, Majestic Affair challenged three wide under jockey Kendrick Carmouche, and Horacio Karamanos took Page McKenney out four wide. Majestic Affair took a short lead in upper stretch but Page McKenney kept coming and was up to win by a head in deep stretch. It was four lengths back from Majestic Affair to Sonny Inspired in third. Green Gratto finished fourth and Majestic Hussar tired to seventh in the eight-horse field.

Page McKenny paid $6.80 as the second choice. He was timed in 1:24.61, following splits of 23.30, 46.85 and 1:11.91over a track rated fast.

“He broke sharp and wanted to go to the lead, but I didn’t want him to,” Karamanos said. “When I asked he didn’t give it to me right away, but when he got in the stretch he did.”

Page McKenney is now 16 for 43 with earnings of $1.17 million.

“I was getting concerned in the stretch,” Eppler said, “but he pulled it off. He’s The Page.”