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Barn Notes: Sunday, March 23
IN TODAY'S NOTES: Real Solution to Head Mervin Muniz Memorial -- Arlington Million Winner Highweighted at 122; Louisiana Derby Day Workers Out in Force March 22 at Fair Grounds; Reminder: Annual Fair Grounds Crawfish Boil on Top Monday Afternoon
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Real Solution, adjudged winner of last summer’s Grade I Arlington Million, is expected to shoulder the top impost of 122 pounds in Saturday’s Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap, annually the centerpiece grass test of the season over the Stall-Wilson turf course at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
The 22nd renewal of the Muniz Memorial, named in honor of Fair Grounds’ late revered longtime racing secretary, is one of four Grade II races set for Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Day program, which will be highlighted by the 101st running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby for 3-year-olds with designs on this year’s Kentucky Derby and a subsequent Triple Crown campaign.
The other graded stakes on Saturday’s expanded Louisiana Derby Day program are the 90th anniversary edition of the Grade II New Orleans Handicap, Fair Grounds’ showcase race for older horses over the main track in the Crescent City, and the 47th renewal of the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks for the nation’s best 3-year-old fillies.
Five of the last nine Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks, contested at Churchill Downs one day prior to the Kentucky Derby.
Heading the list of those expected to challenge the Chad Brown-trained Real Solution in the Muniz Memorial is Maribel Ruelas’s Potomac River, winner of the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap here Feb. 22 over the local lawn as the prep for the Muniz. Trained by Jose Camejo, Potomac River has been assigned 117 pounds.
Also with 117 pounds in the weights among those expected to run is Moyglare Stud’s Irish-bred Speaking of Which, winner of South Florida’s Grade III Tropical Turf Handicap at Calder. The horse finished third here in the Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap when beaten less than a length for the win. French-born Christophe Clement is the trainer.
Calumet Farm’s Skyring, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Wayne Lukas, finished a nose behind Potomac River when runner-up in the Fair Grounds ‘Cap and gets in the Muniz with 113 pounds. His connections are expected to accept that assignment.
Also assigned 113 pounds in the Muniz and expected to compete against males is Brittlyn Stable’s 6-year-old mare Class Included, who won Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Blushing K D and $60,000 Bayou handicaps earlier this season. She is trained by Ron Faucheux.
In the Muniz Memorial lightest of all with 112 pounds among those expected to compete is Burn the Mortgage, owned and trained by Michael Maker, who claimed the entire son of top turf sire Kitten’s Joy for $62,500 out of a turf test at Churchill Downs last November.
The field for the $300,000 Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap will be drawn Wednesday, along with those horses who will compete Saturday in $1 million Louisiana Derby, the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks and the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap.
Three stakes races restricted to accredited Louisiana-breds – the $75,000 Crescent City Derby, the $75,000 Crescent City Oaks and the $60,000 Dixie Poker Ace Stakes over the Stall-Wilson turf course will complete the Saturday’s expanded seven-stakes Louisiana Derby Day program with its special early post-time of 12:30 p.m.
LOUISIANA DERBY DAY WORKERS OUT IN FORCE MARCH 22 AT FAIR GROUNDS—With one week to go before Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Day program, probable starters in the day’s four graded stakes permeated the March 22 work tab.
Prepping for Saturday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby going five furlongs was Commanding Curve (1:01.40) while going a half were Rise Up (47.40) and Louies Flower (48.80).
In advance of the Fair Grounds Oaks going four furlongs were Unbridled Forever (50.60) and Fiftyshadesofgold (50 flat.)
In advance of the New Orleans Handicap going five-eighths: Golden Soul (1:01.40) and Mister Marti Gras (1:01.20); and for the Mervin Muniz Memorial – Class Included (1:03 flat.)
REMINDER: FAIR GROUNDS ANNUAL CRAWFISH BOIL ON TAP MONDAY AFTERNOON —Fans of Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots as well as fans of the local seafood fare are reminded that Fair Grounds Annual Crawfish Boil will be held Monday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the West Grandstand.
Tickets are $30 per person in advance and $35 per person at the door for the Crawfish Boil which will benefit the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association. Entertainment will include a live auction, a jockey crawfish eating contest, raffle prizes and music by Rick Mocklin & Jaquar.