On a day in which tracks across the country honored the late rider Avery Whisman, it was appropriate that his highest-earning mount, Eastern Bay, held the spotlight. The 9-year-old gelding picked up his first graded stakes victory on Saturday, Feb. 18, when he won the General George Stakes-G3 at Laurel Park by one and a half lengths and boosted his career earnings past the seven-figure mark.
The son of former Northview Pennsylvania stallion E Dubai made his season debut in the General George, and his first start since a nose defeat in the Bold Ruler Stakes-G3 at Aqueduct on Oct. 29. He was sent off as the 7.70-1 fourth choice in the eight-horse field, a group which included two other horses owned and trained by Norman “Lynn” Cash.
The expected pace complexion changed at the start, when the speedy Beren stumbled and was unable to get to his usual spot on the lead. This left Cash trainee Pirate Rick relatively comfortable on the front end. Sensing that the expected speed duel was not going to develop, jockey Will Humphrey sent Eastern Bay towards the front, rating him in the three-path off the speedy Pirate Rick through a first quarter of 23.02 and an opening half of 45.43.
As they rounded the far turn, Pirate Rick began to tire, and Humphrey asked Eastern Bay to run. Eastern Bay struck the front at the top of the stretch and held his rivals at bay. Although Yodel E.A. Who made a solid late run, Eastern Bay had enough to hold on late, crossing the wire in 1:23.29 for seven furlongs.
Eastern Bay’s win in the General George increased his career earnings to $1,042,913, making him the 31st Maryland-bred millionaire. He's the tenth Maryland-bred to win the General George and second consecutive following millionaire Cordmaker. His career record is 19-7-5 from 53 starts.
Bred by Victor Frenkil’s Nancy Lee Farms, Eastern Bay originally raced for Frenkil and trainer Ferris Allen III. He broke his maiden at Laurel in his second career start in January 2017 and won six more times before being claimed out of his 29th start by owner Robert Bone and trainer Claudio Gonzalez for $35,000 in February 2020 at Laurel. He won three of his first four starts for Gonzalez, including the Polynesian Stakes in September 2020, and was second by a nose in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes-G3 one start later.
In April 2022 out of a race he won, Eastern Bay was once again claimed for $35,000, this time by Cash. In 10 starts since he’s recorded five wins and three stakes placings (two graded at Aqueduct).
Cash was sure to point out Whisman’s success while riding Eastern Bay. Whisman rode in the Mid-Atlantic in 2019 and 2020. and enjoyed success at Presque Isle Downs last year before passing away on Jan. 11 of this year. He won three times from seven mounts on Eastern Bay and earned $118,502. ““It just seemed like this is the way the day should end. For Avery,” Cash told the MJC press office after the race. “Eastern Bay has never been up like that before. He wasn’t that far off. Right then you knew he had to win, because he was only a length and a half off. Maybe he had a little help getting pushed down the lane by the powers that be. What a special day.”
Eastern Bay is out of Chrusciki, a Polish Numbers mare whom Frenkil and his late wife Nancy purchased for $40,000 the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December Mixed Sale as a weanling in 2000. Chrusciki won two stakes in her 34-race career and earned $322,828. She’s produced nine starters and seven winners from 13 foals of racing age, including 2016 Maryland-bred champion older male John Jones. She most recently produced an unnamed yearling filly by Madefromlucky and was bred to Irish War Cry for 2023.