Cash Recalls Eastern Bay’s General George (G3) Win: ‘Storybook Ending’

Cash Recalls Eastern Bay’s General George (G3) Win: ‘Storybook Ending’

Disco Ebo Chasing Graded-Stakes Success in Barbara Fritchie (G3)
Barbara Fritchie (G3) Gets Season Started for Apple Picker

LAUREL, MD - During his time on the racetrack, whether as an owner or trainer or both, Norman ‘Lynn’ Cash of Built Wright Stables has rarely, if ever, shared a more emotional experience than he did winning last year’s General George (G3) at Laurel Park.

Eastern Bay, a Grade 3-placed stakes winner Cash claimed for $35,000 the previous spring, was making his 53rd career start in the General George. Sent off as the fourth choice at 7-1 in a field of eight that included stablemates Pirate Rick and Sir Alfred James, he showed an uncharacteristic early turn of foot before taking the lead at the top of the stretch and powering to a 1 ½-length triumph.

It was the 19th lifetime win for Eastern Bay, the first in a graded-stakes for he and jockey William Humphrey, and pushed him over the $1 million mark in career earnings. Most important, the General George proved to be a fitting tribute to late rider Avery Whisman, who had ridden Eastern Bay to three wins in 2019-20 and was celebrated with a race named in his honor and a coordinated national moment of silence earlier in the day.

Cash presented Eastern Bay’s saddlecloth from the General George to Whisman’s parents, who tearfully joined the connections, family and friends in a group so large the traditional winner’s circle photo had to be taken on the main track. Primarily based in the Mid-Atlantic, Whisman passed away unexpectedly the previous month at the age of 23.

“I said this before the race, it just feels like Eastern Bay should win. Not based on any numbers or anything, it just felt like that should be the storybook ending,” Cash said. “His family and his girlfriend had come back by the barn a couple of times and seen the horse.

“I remember the feeling I had in the winner’s circle, not because we won but because of the joy and the sorrow and the compassion for the parents and that family,” he added. “That’s what I remember most. It was very emotional.”

While Eastern Bay won’t be back to defend his title, Cash will be represented by Cowan, a 6-year-old gelding he claimed for $62,500 out of a May 2022 turf race at Churchill Downs but was unable to race again for 16 months.

“When we first got him, we did his throat. He kept flipping his palate,” Cash said. “The throat surgery worked [but] it took us a long time to figure him out.”

Part of the challenge has been Cowan’s disposition, which has forced Cash and his trainer, Ray Ginter Jr., to be innovative with his training.

“He’s ornery, and he can be difficult. He refuses to gallop. Last summer we would swim him three days a week, jog him backwards with a pony and if we had to have a work, we’d put a horse on either side of him and work three horses and he would go,” Cash said. “Once my pool opens up here in Kentucky next month then I’ll get him tightened up. The horse has tons of talent.”

Cowan drew Post 2 of seven in the General George with jockey Jeiron Barbosa, aboard for each of his last two starts as well as his comeback win at Charles Town. Cowan finished fourth by less than a length behind Grade 3 winner Greeley and Ben in the Dave’s Friend Dec. 23 and third to another Grade 3 winner in Classier in an open allowance Feb. 3, both six furlongs at Laurel.

“I think he would like to not be on the lead, but it seems like it’s hard to hold him back because he’s such a headstrong horse,” Cash said.

Cowan, rated on the morning line at 12-1 in the General George, is cross-entered in a 6 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance Feb. 19 at Parx which also drew such horses as stakes winners Veeson, Hollywood Jet and Ournationonparade.

“I’ll look at both of them and see where it makes the most sense. I’ll send him to wherever that is,” Cash said. “It may serve him well to back him out of the big races.”

The General George for 4-year-olds and up co-headlines Saturday’s 10-race Winter Carnival program with the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie for fillies and mares 4 and older, both sprinting seven furlongs. Older horses will also contest the $100,000 John B. Campbell at 1 1/8 miles and $100,000 Nellie Morse for females going 1 1/16 miles.

Disco Ebo Chasing Graded-Stakes Success in Barbara Fritchie (G3)

When it comes to on-track success, no one in Saturday’s $200,000 Barbara Fritchie (G3) at Laurel Park has done it better than Cash is King and LC Racing’s Disco Ebo.

The 5-year-old mare owns 10 wins from 20 starts and is the richest of nine horses in the seven-furlong Fritchie with purse earnings of $586,544. Three of her victories have come in stakes, at three different tracks – the 2021 Shamrock Rose at Penn National, Mahoning Valley’s 2022 Youngstown Oaks, and 2023 Penn’s Landing at her home track of Parx.

About the only thing missing from Disco Ebo’s resume is black type in a graded-stakes race, a blank trainer Robert E. ‘Butch’ Reid Jr. hopes to fill this weekend.

“It’s not her first attempt, but that’s the idea,” Reid said. “We’re trying to get a graded win for her and enhance her value as a broodmare.”

By Weigelia out of the Disco Rico mare Katarica Disco, Disco Ebo is a full sister to stakes winners Fore Harp, Smooth B and Fat Kat – all trained by Reid – as well as Pink Princess, who won 16 races and $572,135 in purses racing primarily in the claiming ranks.

“We’ve had about five or six racehorses out of that mare and every one of them has been a runner and made over a half-million dollars,” Reid said. “It’s been a really good family for us.”

Disco Ebo strung together three straight wins by 26 ¾ combined lengths late in her juvenile campaign. Her lone try in graded company came as a 3-year-old in the winter of 2022 at Gulfstream Park, when she encountered trouble early and was eased late finishing seventh in the seven-furlong Forward Gal (G3).

Last year Disco Ebo began with three consecutive wins and went 4-for-6 overall, and she opened 2024 with a determined head victory in an open 6 ½-furlong allowance Jan. 24 at Parx. All of her wins have seen her race on or close to the lead.

“She’s got good gas and we don’t hold her back from showing it. It’s worked well for her,” Reid said. “She’s won half the starts of her career and she’s done it either near or on the front end. We’re not going to change anything with that strategy soon.”

Parx-based regular rider Frankie Pennington gets the return call from Post 4 on Disco Ebo, who has raced at six different racetracks but will be making her Laurel debut. She is rated at 10-1 on the morning line.

“As long as the track’s good and tight, she’s good. If we get a little rain on Saturday, even better,” Reid said. “She likes a track she can get a hold of where it’s not breaking away and Laurel’s traditionally been that way in the wintertime so that’s another reason to come in and take a chance.”

Barbara Fritchie (G3) Gets Season Started for Apple Picker

Michael Dubb’s stakes winner Apple Picker, purposefully given time from her last start, returns rested and ready to snap a three-race losing streak when she makes her 4-year-old debut in Saturday’s $200,000 Barbara Fritchie (G3) at Laurel Park.

Apple Picker has breezed four times for her season opener, once at historic Pimlico Race Course and three times at Laurel, where she fired a bullet half-mile move in 47.20 seconds Feb. 2, the fastest of 17 horses.

By Grade 1-winning millionaire Connect, Apple Picker capped her 2023 campaign with back-to-back runner-up finishes at Laurel in the seven-furlong Safely Kept and 6 ½-furlong Willa On the Move, the latter as the favorite Dec. 23, beaten a total of 2 ½ lengths.

The connections decided to point for the Fritchie rather than run in the six-furlong What a Summer at Laurel, which was delayed from Jan. 20 to 26 and ultimately canceled due to lingering effects from a winter storm that passed through the Mid-Atlantic region.

“She got shook around pretty hard in the last run so we opted to skip the last race and just give her more time into the Fritchie with that kind of being the goal,” trainer Brittany Russell said. “It would do a lot for her if she could hit the board or win the race, so we tried to give her the best chance by giving her time and breezing her into it.

“She’s breezed really well and she trains really well,” she added. “She’s an aggressive- type filly and she seems to be acting like she’s ready to run again.”

Apple Picker made her first four starts for New York-based trainer Rudy Rodriguez before being moved to Russell for her sophomore campaign, winning first time out last May at Delaware Park. After two unsuccessful tries on the Laurel turf, Apple Picker responded to her return to the dirt with a 4 ½-length upset of the six-furlong Weather Vane at Pimlico.

Russell shipped Apple Picker to Keeneland for her graded debut in the seven-furlong Raven Run (G2), where she closed to be fourth, just a half-length behind third-place finisher and multiple graded-stakes placed Dazzling Blue, trained by Brad Cox. Running 1-2, respectively, were Vahava, a Grade 2 and Grade 3 winner of more than $873,000 in purses, and 2023 Prioress (G2) winner Alva Starr.

“She was probably a little unlucky in that race. Her and Brad’s filly were boom, boom down to the wire together,” Russell said. “I think she was running. The top two fillies are really good fillies. She’s run against some good horses, but I think she’s tough, as well, and the seven-eighths is good.”

Russell’s husband, jockey Sheldon Russell, is named to ride Apple Picker (6-1 morning line) from Post 6 in a field of nine led by favored South Florida-based stablemates Bluefield and Intrepid Daydream.