02/05/2004 12:00AM

Stars pay to play in General George


The prospective field for the General George Handicap has suddenly gotten a lot stronger.

Badge of Silver, who posted a sizzling 113 Beyer Speed Figure in his return from a 10-month layoff, and Grade 1 winner Valid Video have been supplemented to the General George, a Grade 2, seven-furlong race scheduled for Feb. 16 at Laurel Park.

In addition, Grade 1 winner Gygistar, entered to run in Saturday's Grade 3 Deputy Minister Handicap at Gulfstream Park, will likely be scratched and ship from Florida for the General George. Gygistar most recently finished second in the Mr. Prospector Handicap on opening day at Gulfstream.

Badge of Silver was considered one of last season's top 3-year-olds after he won the 2003 Risen Star Stakes, but displaced his palate during the Louisiana Derby last March. Shortly thereafter, he fractured a cannon bone, and was sidelined until January.

Two weeks ago, Badge of Silver made his first start since the injury and won a six-furlong optional claimer at Fair Grounds. His 113 Beyer is tied for the highest by any horse this year.

Owner Ken Ramsey and trainer Ronny Werner have scrapped their original plan of keeping Badge of Silver at Fair Grounds for the 1 1/8-mile New Orleans Handicap on Feb. 29. Instead, Ramsey paid $2,000 to supplement his horse to the General George, and is making plans to fly Badge of Silver to Maryland.

"It's asking a lot to get him ready to go a mile and an eighth off one three-quarters race," Werner said Thursday. "Ken and I sat down and agreed this would be the best way to go."

Valid Video, who won the King's Bishop at Saratoga last August, most recently finished third behind Shake You Down in the Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 24.

Shake You Down is among the 26 nominees to the General George, but trainer Scott Lake said he prefers to keep him at six furlongs. Lake said Thursday that Shake You Down will not run in the General George.

Others pointing to the General George include Peeping Tom and Gators N Bears.

The weights for the General George and its sister race, the Grade 2, $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap, which will be run Feb. 14, will be announced Sunday.

Stryker features a rematch

Three months ago, Hands On crossed the finish line of the seven-furlong Rollicking Stakes at Laurel a half-length in front of White Mountain Boy, but was disqualified for drifting out badly in the stretch.

Saturday, Hands On and White Mountain Boy are rematched under identical circumstances in the $75,000 Goss L. Stryker Stakes, Laurel's feature for 3-year-old Maryland-breds.

An equipment change may be all Hands On needs to beat White Mountain Boy this time. Trainer Rodney Jenkins has equipped Hands On with blinkers, a move that has been successful 35 percent of the time he has tried it the past two seasons.

White Mountain Boy, undefeated in three starts, will be cutting back in distance after racing nine furlongs while winning the Maryland Juvenile Champion-ship on Dec. 31. He handled a similar distance switch when he went from 1 1/16 miles in his maiden victory to the seven furlongs of the Rollicking.