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Kasaqui the Class in Muniz Memorial; Cash Control Seeks Sixth Stakes in New Orleans Ladies

Wimborne Farm’s Ignacio Correas IV-trained Kasaqui (Arg) brings a slight class edge in a field of 11 entered in the Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on the Stall-Wilson turf course Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. In the exacta in 14 of 23 career starts, the consistent gray 7-year-old returned from a 3½-month freshening to be a bang-up second last out in the Grade III Tampa Bay Stakes at its namesake course. Repeated top performances against superior company, including an unlucky neck second in the Grade I Arlington Million and a solid fifth after trouble in the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile, make him a tough customer when he breaks from post eight under regular rider Robby Albarado.

The powerful turf prowess of trainer Mike Maker is on display with his four entrants, led by Maxis Stable’s Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap winner Enterprising (Tyler Gaffalione, rail), who defeated Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey-owned stablemate Oscar Nominated (Florent Geroux, post 10) by three-quarters of a length in that Feb. 25 course and distance prep.

Maker also adds Three Diamonds Farm’s classy multiple graded stakes-placed Roman Approval (Rajiv Maragh, post four), who twice finished second here in graded stakes company in 2016, but must overcome a four-month break. The Ramseys’ Granny’s Kitten (Shaun Bridgmohan, post six) rounds out the foursome and must return to the form that saw him take the Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley over this course in January, overcoming his one-paced fifth last out in the Fair Grounds Handicap.

Course record setter (since broken) Blarp (Miguel Mena, post two), multiple stakes winner Sky Flight (Richard Eramia, post three), multiple graded stakes winner One Mean Man (James Graham, post five), minor stakes winner Pumpkin Rumble (Mitchell Murrill, post seven), graded stakes-winning marathon specialist Bullards Alley (Marcelino Pedroza, post nine) and class ladder-climbing Special Ops (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post 11) complete the field.

Earlier in the card, nine turf fillies and mares will be on display in the $50,000 New Orleans Ladies Overnight, topped by multiple graded stakes winner Cash Control, who seeks a return to the winner’s circle in the 1 1/16-miles turf event following a brief freshening. Last out, the Brad Cox trainee was fourth at 7-5 odds in the Marie Krantz Memorial, necessitating a two-month break. A form reversal for the 10-time winner from 21 starts makes her easily the horse to beat here when she breaks from post six under regular rider Shaun Bridgmohan. A victory would be her fourth stakes tally at the Fair Grounds and sixth lifetime.

Calumet Farm’s Mike Maker-trained Susie Bee (Robby Albarado, post five) could pose a challenge for top connections. Having won or placed in six turf stakes in the last 12 months, the daughter of English Channel was fourth, beaten 2½ lengths by a nose-separated Mizz Money and Cash Control, in last year’s edition.

John James Revocable Trust’s Steve Asmussen-trained Emerald Pond (David Flores, post three) wheels back on three weeks rest and takes a class drop from a pair of in-vain graded attempts at Tampa Bay Downs. Long well-regarded, the daughter of More Than Ready returns to the barn of Asmussen, for whom she had a win and a pair of seconds in three starts last year.

Factory of Faith (Marcelino Pedroza, rail), Princess Erindelle (James Graham, post two), Prado’s Sweet Ride (Francisco Torres, post four), Dynazar (Mitchell Murrill, post seven), Selenite (Florent Geroux, post eight) and Silent Ronin (Jose Valdivia, Jr., post nine) complete the field.

The first of eight stakes races on the card, including four Grade II events, the New Orleans Ladies goes off as the third race on a 15-race card, with a 1:24 p.m. CDT post. First post is 12:30 p.m.