02/22/2017 1:16PM

Troubled trip hindered Page McKenney in John Campbell Handicap

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
On a day when outside closers did well at Laurel, Page McKenney was bottled up on the rail for most of the John Campbell Handicap.

Page McKenney emerged unscathed from his adventurous journey in the John B. Campbell Stakes at Laurel Park last Saturday, according to trainer Mary Eppler.

Page McKenney finished second in the 1 1/8-mile Campbell while making his second start following a nine-month layoff.

“He’s perfect,” Eppler said. “He came out of the race like his old self. His legs are ice cold and tight.”

Bodhisattva launched a wide bid from last to overpower Page McKenney from the outside in upper stretch. He won by 3 3/4 lengths after lagging far behind the field on the backstretch.

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Page McKenney finished 8 3/4 lengths clear of third-place Charitable Annuity after an arduous trip where he was unable to get off the rail. As is sometimes the case at Laurel, the outside portion of the track was clearly best Saturday, with winner after winner rallying wide.

After a sharp break under Horacio Karamanos, it appeared that Page McKenney was going to land in a nice spot behind the leaders. But on the first turn, Karamanos had to steady behind Page McKenney’s stablemate, 17-1 Double Whammy, and was shuffled back to second to last in the nine-horse field while pinned down along the inside.

Entering the far turn, Karamanos sent Page McKenney up the rail with a quick move that took him from fifth position to the lead before reaching the stretch. Bodhisattva rallied widest of all into the lane and cruised to victory while Page McKenney could not sustain his bid and had to settle for second at 3-5.

“Once he got checked back on the first turn, he was stuck down on the rail,” Eppler said. “It was frustrating, especially when your other horse causes the problem. I guess Horacio thought if he didn’t move, they were never going to let him out of there. I can’t fault Horacio, but things could have worked out better.”