Imperial Hint Makes the Grade in General George
February 18, 2017 12:04pm
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Photo: Maryland Jockey Club

Imperial Hint went off as the 5-2 second choice to even money favorite Stallwalkin’Dude, but it was the four-year-old son of Imperialism who led gate to wire in the $250,000 Grade 3 General George Stakes. The seven-furlong test at Laurel Park was the first graded stakes score for Imperial Hint.


Breaking side-by-side with Stallwalkin’ Dude, Imperial Hint, ridden by Julian Pimentel, grabbed the lead out of post five. Afleet Willy was up for second, with the favorite and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. in third. To their inside, Classy Class sat in fourth on the rail, followed by Never Gone South.


Imperial Hint was pushed through the first half-mile by Afleet Willy to his inside. The fractions went in :22.61 and :45.28 just before Stallwalkin’ Dude made his move on the outside. The seven-year-old gelding was poised to take over, but the front runner never relented. Instead, Imperial Hint continued to pull further away as three-quarters went in 1:08.88. Stallwalkin’ Dude gave chase, but was 2 ¼ lengths behind when Imperial Hint crossed the wire. The final time was 1:21.20.


“He’s a very fast horse,” Pimentel said of his mount. “He broke a step slow but right away he recovered himself real quick and he just ran fast all the way around there. He just went on about his business.”

Imperial Hint returned $7.60, $3.80, and $3.20, while Stallwalkin’ Dude delivered $2.80 and $2.20. Never Gone South, 35-1, got up to show and paid $7.80. Ocean Knight closed from far back to run fourth and was followed by Classy Class, Afleet Willy, Heaven’s Runway, Grasshoppin, and Voluntario.


Page McKenney, the 2016 General George winner, was scratched to run in the John B. Campbell Stakes earlier on the card, resulting in a runner-up finish to Bodhisattva.


The General George improved Imperial Hint’s career to 6-1-0 in 10 starts and boosted his earnings to $349,805 for owner Raymond Mamone. Coming off a 3 ¼ length victory in the Fire Plug Stakes, the General George was the third straight win for Imperial Hint. It also provided trainer Luis Carvajal, Jr. his first graded stakes win.


“This was a very nervous race for me and my client,” said Carvajal, Jr. “I had never won a graded stakes race before so after this race, after the way he won, I’d be more relaxed because this is the one tough one to get.”


When asked about Imperial Hint being on the improve, Carvajal, Jr. replied, “Improve? He did over the last couple races, but I always thought he was a graded stakes horse. You know, it’s funny, I was walking out of the paddock when the horses were already on the track and hear few people say, ‘Look at the favorite. He’s humungous. Look at the five horse, he’s so small. He has no shot at all.’ But I had in mind, ‘Yeah, but you don’t know the heart he has.’ ”

And with his trainer's support behind him, Imperial Hint showed heart indeed.


By Christine Oser


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