Page McKenney's Journey Continues in General George

HorseRacingNation.com
February 14, 2016 09:17am
Page McKenney wins 2016 Native Dancer
Photo: Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Dr. James Bryant and Linda Davis couldn’t just move on with their lives after their homebred Page McKenney was claimed away by Adam Staple and trainer Mary Eppler in July 2013. 

“We had raised him on our farm and kind of suffered through his first several races. When I found out who the new owner was – Mary gave me his number – I really only called him to find out what he was all about. I wanted to find out if his intentions were good,” Bryant said. “My only request really was that we get him back at the end of his racing career. We had a really nice conversation, and before it was over, we ended up with 10 percent of the horse. It’s really great to be involved. Adam’s been really gracious to deal with.” 

Page McKenney, who is scheduled to face eight rivals in Monday’s $250,000 General George Stakes (G3) at Laurel Park, had won just one of 14 starts when he was claimed for $16,000. The Pennsylvania-bred gelding went on to win 14 races, including eight stakes, for his new connections while surpassing the $1 million earnings mark with his victory in the Native Dancer Stakes at Laurel Jan. 2. 

“It’s certainly beyond expectations; it’s almost beyond belief,” Bryant said. “I think people have really connected with him. He’s a real blue-collar kind of a guy. He really tries his hardest every single time. He’s a wonderful horse. We’re so blessed to be involved in him at all.” 

Page McKenney was honored Saturday at Laurel Park by the Maryland Racing Media Association, which named him 2015 Maryland-based Horse of the Year. 

The wonderful journey with Page McKenney has opened the probability of a new venture between Bryant and Staple. 

“I think we’re going to be doing a co-breeder situation coming up. He’s very astute at the claiming game, obviously, and I’m certainly not,” Bryant said. “I’m not involved in his claiming business, but I think we’re going to be doing some breeding stuff together.” 

Bryant and his wife Linda own and operate a farm in Eastern Virginia, where he is on the medical staff and his wife is a nurse manager at a local hospital. They have “a menagerie of animals’ that includes three broodmares and ‘an eclectic mix of retirees, a mule and a mini-mule.’  

Although Page McKenney’s dam, Winning Grace, has passed away, Bryant and David own her full sister, Snunner. 

“Her first two foals were stakes winners and the third was a multiple allowance winner. Her first foal for us is a Jump Start 3-year-old who had a miserable first start and then finished third in his last race,” said Bryant, referring to Jump Jive an Wail. ”We also have two fillies out of her, one is a 2-year-old and the other is a yearling. They are both by Friesan Fire and look good. We’ll have to see if they can run like they look.”

Majestic Hussar Seeks to Break Through in G3 General George

William Bayne Jr.’s Majestic Hussar could be slated to break through with a long-overdue stakes victory in Monday’s $250,000 General George (G3) at Laurel Park.

The 6-year-old son of Majestic Warrior finished second in the $200,000 Fabulous Strike at Penn National Nov. 25, before turning in back-to-back runner-up finishes at Laurel in the $100,000 Dave’s Friend Dec. 26 and $75,000 Fire Plug Jan. 16.

“He's a nice horse, he's been running pretty solid. We just hope to have a clean trip,” trainer William Campbell said. “We kind of got in a little traffic at the head of the lane last time and that kind of cost us quite a bit.” 

In the six-furlong Fire Plug, Majestic Hussar had to be steadied at the half-mile pole and checked in upper stretch before closing to finish 1 ¾ lengths behind victorious Sonny Inspired, who also is set to return in the seven-furlong General George on Monday’s Presidents’ Day program.

“He came out of it good, he's been training really good.  He's doing everything we've asked him to do in the mornings,” Campbell said. “We're excited to watch him run.” 

Majestic Hussar, who finished fourth behind Kentucky Derby winner Orb in the 2013 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park, was claimed by his current connections for $25,000 out of a third-place finish in an optional claiming race at Laurel Oct. 1, 2014. After a pair of off-the-board finishes, he was sent to the sidelines for nine months. 

“He was a nice horse and that's the reason we claimed him.  Then he was having some trouble, so we made the decision to give him some time off,” Campbell said. “He came back and he's been doing everything right since then, so we couldn't ask him to come off the layoff any better." 

Majestic Hussar returned to win a waiver claiming race at Delaware Park Aug. 25. After a sixth-place stakes finish at Charles Town, he captured a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance at Laurel Oct. 23, finishing two noses ahead of third-place finisher Sonny Inspired.

“He ran a nice race going seven furlongs in that allowance race before he started running in those stakes. He's been a pretty solid kind of horse, so hopefully we can get some racing luck going our way and hopefully we can be able to beat him,” Campbell said.

Victor Carrasco has the mount aboard Majestic Hussar, whom he rode to victory in the Oct. 23 victory the only time they have teamed up.

Undefeated Charmed Victory set for Stakes Debut in Miracle Wood

Hillwood Stable LLC and Richard Golden’s Charmed Victory is slated to seek his third victory without defeat in Monday’s $75,000 Miracle Wood Stakes, a one-mile stakes for 3-year-olds at Laurel Park.

The 3-year-old son of Flatter and American Victory overcame trouble to capture his six-furlong debut at Laurel Dec. 19, closing from seventh with a late-rush to prevail by a length. Stretching out to a mile for his second start, the Rodney Jenkins-trained ridgling rated off the early pace before drawing off to a commanding six-length triumph. 

The Maryland-bred, who is one of five Triple Crown nominees in Monday’s six-horse field, was purchased by Ellen Charles’ Hillwood Stable at the 2014 Timonium September sale for $260,000.

“Mrs. Charles bought him at Timonium from Richard Golden.  He bought a 1/4 of him back, so they own him together,” Jenkins said. “I was very high on him.  He was a ridgling when we bought him and it bothered him a little bit and that's the reason he didn't run earlier than he did.  We took the testicle out and that's been history since. He's turned around, trains beautiful. He's a nice horse and he's a good looking horse too.” 

Victor Carrasco will have the return mount aboard Charmed Victory, whom Jenkins believes will relish longer distances. 

"American Victory was best at a mile and an eighth and the sire Flatter, you can get any kind of horse with him," Jenkins said. 

Jenkins has no firm plans for Charmed Victory beyond his stakes debut in the Miracle Wood.

“If he runs well there, then we'll make a plan for him,” he said.

Charmed Victory is scheduled to clash with multiple-stakes winner Never Gone South. M M G Stables’ 3-year-old son of Munnings captured the seven-furlong Frank Whitely Stakes at Laurel by 7 ½ lengths after finishing close seconds in the Marylander and James F. Lewis III Stakes.

Source: Oaklawn Park

 

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