Throwback Cordmaker wraps up General George

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Thirty-six starts. Fourteen wins. Four seconds. Seven thirds. Closing in on $1 million in earnings. Five wins as a 4-year-old. Zero wins as a 5-year-old. Four wins as a 6-year-old. First graded stakes win at age 7.

They don’t make horses like that anymore.

Um, Cordmaker would like a word.

He won the $250,000 General George Stakes Saturday, roaring to the front with an inside move on the turn and then keeping longshot War Tocsin at bay in the 7-furlong highlight to Laurel Park’s Winter Carnival. The day featured six stakes, two graded, and four wins by locally based Maryland-breds but nobody shined like Cordmaker.

“There’s always one that is very special, this one is like that,” said jockey Victor Carrasco, aboard for the 11th consecutive time and 25th overall. “I’m out of words. To finally get a graded stakes win with this horse means a lot. We tried it in the Pimlico Special, two times, and he ran well but couldn’t win. He really is a cool horse. I’m going to buy a big picture of him and put it in my living room.”

Bred in Maryland by Bob Manfuso and Katy Voss, Cordmaker delivered a masterpiece Saturday, living up to the even-money favoritism in a field of seven. The son of Curlin let others hustle to the lead at the start and was sixth early as War Tocsin, Sir Alfred James and Threes Over Deuces battled up front. Carrasco let Cordmaker ease up to fourth, but was soon flanked by four horses to his right and two others in front of him. Second after a half-mile in :45.33, Cordmaker had no choice but to stay inside and challenged War Tocsin just at the quarter pole.

The inside move wasn’t exactly the idea beforehand.

“My plan was to get him around horses because think he is a lot better when he is outside, but at the five-sixteenths I had horses on the outside and the hole opened up a little bit and I said ‘It’s either now or never,’ and he helped me out big time and he went through,” said Carrasco.

From there, Cordmaker pulled a length clear in the stretch, drifted out slightly as War Tocsin fought on and went to the inside without reducing the deficit. Trained by Rodney Jenkns for Hillwood Stable, Cordmaker won by three-quarters of a length in 1:23.58. War Tocsin (49-1) held second with Sir Alfred James third. The $150,000 payday lifted Cordmaker’s career earnings to $989,640 and gave Jenkins his third graded stakes win – after Running Tide’s Leonard Richards Stakes in 2002 and Bandbox’s 2014 General George triumph (also for Hillwood). Likewise, it was the third graded stakes score for Carrasco – joining last year’s General George with Share The Ride and the 2021 BWI Turf Cup with Field Pass.

Owner Ellen Charles thought of Bandbox, and a long association with racing as Cordmaker charged home.

“He is a cool horse, just a cool horse, he’s won it all now hasn’t he? And now he’s a graded stakes winner too,” she said. “You know who won this race, my Bandbox, so it’s nice to have Cordmaker win it too. Maybe Bandbox was giving him a push there in the stretch.”

The win earned Cordmaker a break, Jenkins said, as the chestnut’s racing schedule has included 20 starts over the past 19 months. The heavy workload started with 10 losses, but has since flipped to five wins in his last six starts including stakes scores in the Victory Gallop, Dickie Small, Bob Manfuso and Jennings before the General George.

GlassCeilingBFGlass Ceiling (center) prevails in the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel. Maryland Jockey Club photoHigh Ceiling
New York shipper Glass Ceiling landed the day’s co-featured Barbara Fritchie, also a Grade 3 and also worth $250,000 as the 5-year-old mare continues to make good on a $40,000 claim at Belmont Park last May.

At the time, trainer Charlton Baker was thinking about winning a first-level allowance race. She managed that four starts after the claim, but has done nothing but improve since with a second in the Pumpkin Pie Stakes in October, a win in the Garland of Roses in December and an allowance score to prep for the Fritchie in January.

Saturday, she and jockey Dylan Davis wound up in a stretch battle with early leader Jakarta, digging in late to get past and score by a half-length as the 4-5 favorite in 1:23.82 for 7 furlongs. Davis initially moved alongside Jakarta as he challenged in the stretch, then quickly moved outside to help his mare get clear.

“I saw Jakarta  going easy in front and no one was on the outside so I thought I could just go and attack her but she was game inside there,” he said after his first Laurel winner. “That’s why I went down to her, then she engaged me, and I went back to the left hand to get away from her. I had to change it up and change it up quick. I saw the outcome and it was me finishing second, so I had to think of something else and I had to think of something quick. And it worked.”

Bred by Twin Creeks Farm, Glass Ceiling won for the seventh time in 25 lifetime starts and pushed her earnings to $531,012. Baker, also a co-owner with Michael Foster, is the daughter of Constitution’s fifth trainer following claims in 2019, 2020 and when he haltered her at Belmont. Second to eventual Grade 1 winner Bella Sofia in July, Glass Ceiling finished fourth and third in two Saratoga starts last summer, then won at Belmont in late September to start of string of four wins and a second.

“I think she matured and we got her to calm down,” Baker said of the improvement over those five starts. “They’ve got a small track at Belmont where I can train her and she just started relaxing and settling down and came into herself when she started doing that. That was the main thing, getting her to relax a little bit more and she just started enjoying training more and is a happier horse. A happier horse always runs good.”