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

February 14, 2024

Maryland Jockey Club bugler Jari Villanueva leads the tribute to Avery Whisman, who had ridden Eastern Bay to three wins in 2019-20, celebrated with a race named in his honor (Maryland Jockey Club)

Laurel Park News & Notes

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.

Thnx to @jonathanstettin I made being right about Channel Maker count! Didn’t play him in under at all, cashed dbls, exs,tri, super and p4.

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