Updated on 09/16/2011 6:51AM

Wrangler handles every step up he takes


Despite some unruly pre-race behavior, Wrangler continued his ascension through the sprint ranks Monday at Laurel Park, rallying from just off the pace to win the Grade 2, $200,000 General George Handicap* by 2 3/4 lengths. Rusty Spur, a 27-1 longshot who set a quick pace, held second by a head over Affirmed Success, the 2000 General George winner.

It was the third consecutive victory and sixth in his last eight starts for Wrangler ($8.20), a 4-year-old son of Carson City who began his streak in a $35,000 claiming event last July 27 at Saratoga. Wrangler, owned by Frank Stronach, is 3 for 3 since coming into the barn of Jimmy Jerkens, including a victory in last month's Paumonok Handicap at Aqueduct.

Under Aaron Gryder, Wrangler rated in midpack, about 2 1/2 lengths off the pace, while Rusty Spur set fractions of 22.45 seconds and 44.72 seconds under Oliver Castillo. Wrangler advanced inside of horses around the turn and moved into second place approaching the quarter pole. Turning for home, Wrangler came outside of Rusty Spur, made the lead approaching the eighth pole and drew clear under a vigorous hand ride.

Wrangler covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.5, the first time he has won at the distance.

The only anxious moments Wrangler gave his backers were in the post parade when he was reluctant to leave the parade and gallop to the gate.

"He has a mind of his own," Gryder said. "He showed it in the post parade. He wanted to stand and look around. In the morning you have time to play around, but in the afternoon you have to get down to business. I was really happy with the way he finished up."

The biggest disappointment in the race was Here's Zealous, the 2-1 favorite, who tired to last after pressing the early pace.

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