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Take The Stand Denies All, Charged With Track Record

Earle Mack, Wachtel Stable and Brous Stable’s Bill Mott-trained Take the Stand shipped in from Florida, drew the one-hole and proved an expert witness for the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots fans with a gate-to-wire win by 1¼ lengths in track record time in the Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap over 1 1/8 miles of the Stall-Wilson turf course. The Argentine-bred son of Not For Sale defeated Live Oak Plantation’s Mark Casse-trained World Approval, who rallied to beat WinStar Farm’s Mott-trained Closing Bell and Wentworth Brochu’s Brad Cox-trained defending champion and 2-1 favorite Chocolate Ride, who were 1½ lengths astern the runner-up and separated by a neck when finishing in tandem.

Ridden by Hall of Famer Edgar Prado, the dark bay 5-year-old horse made all to lower Chocolate Ride’s record set a year ago by a fifth of a second, finishing up in 1:47.80 after setting fractions of :23.54, 47.59, 1:10.98 and 1:35.38. Take the Stand returned $18, $9.60 and $7. World Approval($4.60 and $4) rallied wide at odds of 3-1, out-finishing third-placed Closing Bell ($5.40) in what was a sweep of Florida-based shippers all racing for their second times in 2015. Improving off his runner-up effort in the Grade III $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes on Feb. 13, Take the Stand earned his sixth career win from 12 starts and increased his career bankroll to $317,631 with the $180,000 winner’s purse.

“He loved the lead last time and was happy. Unfortunately we got beat then,” Prado said. “He was running every step of the way today and drew off in the stretch. The first quarter we were going pretty easy. We picked it up in the second quarter and he was doing it so easy. When they tried to come close to me, my horse just leveled off again.” 

We were not really expecting to be on the lead today because there was a lot of speed on paper, but the horse took him (Edgar Prado) there again, same as in Tampa, and he just took off at the quarter pole and was very impressive today,” said Mott assistant Rodolphe Brisset.

“Edgar saw that it was a slow pace and being a journeyman rider he went and took the lead despite all the (expected) speed in the race,” owner Earle Mack said. “Thank you to him and Bill Mott. We're very proud.”

“We got the outside post so that didn’t help us,” Leparoux said of World Approval’s run. “The winner was on the lead and got loose from us, but my horse ran a big race.”

“I had kind of a rough trip,” said Jose Lezcano, aboard Closing Bell. “He broke good, but I didn't want to be on the pace. I had room, I just think that he's kind of one-paced. The way the turf was playing, I think maybe you have to be kind of up close.”

“I thought I was perfect where I was on the first turn,” said Florent Geroux, who was trying to help Chocolate Ride win his fifth Fair Grounds graded stakes. “I was sitting right behind the pace. I tried to challenge the two horses in front of me at the half-mile pole, but I only passed one. The other kept running. He went fast.”

Potomac River, Roman Approval, Amigo, String King, Blarp and Change of Command completed the order of finish.