Second in Pegasus Turf, I’m Very Busy Ships to Fair Grounds for Muniz

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  • Al Stall Memorial Winner Spirit And Glory Made the Favorite of Fourteen in the Benson 

New Orleans, La (March 21, 2024) – Fresh off a second-place finish in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), Team Hanley, Richard Schermerhorn, and Paul Braverman’s I’m Very Busy ships to Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots to take on 12 older turf males in the $300,000 Muniz Memorial (G2) presented by Horse Racing Nation.  

Run at 1 1/18 miles, the Muniz will go as Race 10 with a post time of 4:36 p.m. (all times Central) on Saturday’s 12-race Louisiana Derby Day card. Slated as the centerpiece of the $1 million estimated pool All Stakes Pick 5, the Muniz will be preceded by the $150,000 Tom Benson Memorial and the $500,000 New Orleans Classic (G2) presented by Relyne GI By Hagyard. The final two legs in the sequence are the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton and the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2). With eight stakes worth $2.7 million carded on Saturday, the Louisiana Derby and the Fair Grounds Oaks will award Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks qualifying points (100-50-25-15-10) to the top five finishers.

Trained by Chad Brown, I’m Very Busy moved forward nicely in the first start of his 4-year-old campaign to finish just a half-length shy of Warm Heart in the Pegasus Turf. With two place finishes in graded stakes, the two-time winning colt is unproven at the Muniz distance and drew the far outside post in the field of 13. One of two entered by Brown, along with Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Louis Lazzinnaro’s Adhamo (Ire) who drew the rail, I’m Very Busy was made the tepid 4-1 morning line favorite and will see Irad Ortiz Jr. return to the saddle.

D.J. Stable’s Webslinger follows the same path as I’m Very Busy, as the Mark Casse trainee entered the Muniz after a tough trip sixth-place finish in the Pegasus Turf. One of three entries from the barn, including Strong Quality and Palazzi, Webslinger has three stakes wins on his resume, including a gritty American Turf (G2) score on the 2023 Kentucky Derby undercard. The 4-year-old gelded son of Constitution is a neck and a head shy of winning two grade ones. Drawing post 3 and made the 9-2 second choice, Webslinger will see jockey Flavien Prat leg up for the first time.

The winners of two of the three turf stakes in the local series enter to take on these fresh faces, as Gary Barber and Kinsman Stable’s Strong Quality and Rob Comestro and Jeff Ganje’s Beatbox look to cash another check in the Muniz. Gate-to-wire Colonel E.R. Bradley winner Strong Quality lost the jump at the finish line to Beatbox in the Fair Grounds Stakes (G3) last out. With regular rider Florent Geroux at Oaklawn on Saturday, John Velazquez gets the call from Casse and will surely be a full send from post 2. 

Trained by Cherie DeVaux, Beatbox has been second in his three local efforts prior to outfinishing Strong Quality in the Fair Grounds. The 6-year-old Pioneerof the Nile horse won the Dust Commander at Turfway Park as a 4-year-old. Since coming back off a freshening in October, Beatbox has not finished out of the money in five starts. Aboard for his three Fair Grounds stakes runs, Jockey Joel Rosario returns to the irons and will break Beatbox from post 4. 

The thrilling Fair Grounds Stakes photo finish also included AJ Suited Racing Stable, D C Racing and Brilliant Racing’s Johny’s Fireball. Since his gutsy allowance win last fall at Keeneland for trainer Norm Casse, the 6-year-old gelded son of Tonalist aims to add a first stakes victory to his resume. With three of his five lifetime scores coming on the grass, Johny’s Fireball will begin the journey for a fourth from post 9 under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.

In what appears to be a wide-open edition of the Muniz, Diamond T Racing and Iapetus Racing’s 4-year-old Gigante is one payday away from surpassing $1 million in career earnings. Beaten by 2 3/4 lengths last out in the Fair Grounds Stakes, Gigante finished fourth in his first try against older horses. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the Not This Time colt is winless at the Muniz distance, but does have a local stakes score going shorter, beating a strong field of 3-year-old peers in December’s Woodchopper. 

“He was in off a bit of a freshening so hopefully he can continue on to the wire,” Asmussen said. “It’s a nice race, a very good race. The odds ought to be his liking. It seems like he waits until he’s a longshot to win.”

Tabbed at 10-1 by Mike Diliberto, the six-time winner Gigante boasts three victories at double-digit odds. Jockey Edgar Morales will say go from post 7.

Here is the complete field for the Muniz from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line odds): 1. Adhamo (Ire) (Tyler Gaffalione, Chad Brown, 12-1); 2. Strong Quality (John Velazquez, Mark Casse, 6-1); 3. Webslinger (Flavien Prat, Mark Casse, 9-2); 4. Beatbox (Joel Rosario, Cherie DeVaux, 6-1); 5. Irish Aces (Brian Hernandez Jr., Brendan Walsh, 15-1); 6. Palazzi (Jareth Loveberry, Mark Casse, 20-1); 7. Gigante (Edgar Morales, Steve Asmussen, 10-1); 8. Point Proven (Corey Lanerie, Alice Cohn, 15-1); 9. Johny’s Fireball (Ricardo Santana Jr., Norm Casse, 10-1); 10. Rising Empire (James Graham, Brendan Walsh, 30-1); 11. Risk Manager (Rey Gutierrez, Mike Maker, 20-1); 12. Woods N Water (Aubrie Green, Lee Thomas, 50-1); 13. I’m Very Busy (Irad Ortiz Jr., Chad Brown, 4-1).


Al Stall Memorial Winner Spirit And Glory Made the Favorite of Fourteen in the Benson 

Michael Nentwig, Michael Dubb, Beast Mode Racing, John Rochfort, Robert Falcone, Jr.’s Spirit And Glory (Ire) will look to defend her Al Stall Memorial  crown against a field of fourteen older fillies and mares in Saturday’s $150,000 Tom Benson Memorial at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. 

Run at 1 1/16 miles across the Stall-Wilson turf course, the Benson is slated as race 8 of the 12-race Louisiana Derby Day program. It will kick off the $1 million estimated pool All Stakes Pick 5 which concludes with the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2).

Trained by Robert Falcone Jr., Spirit And Glory returned from a six-month layoff to win the Al Stall by 3/4 length. The 2022 Virginia Oaks victress saved every inch under jockey Flavien Prat to hold off the late charge of Brittlyn Stable’s Tryinmyheartout, who returns in the Benson for Fair Grounds meet-leading trainer Shane Wilson. Prat will hold the reins again aboard the 5-year-old Spirit And Glory, tasked with repeating the same trip from post 9 as the 4-1 morning line favorite.

Richard Perkins Oeuvre was tabbed as the 5-1 morning line second choice in the Benson as she tries to prove herself going two turns against stakes company for the first time. With 15 lifetime wins, including seven sprint stakes scores, the Shackleford mare is no stranger to the winner’s circle. Trained by Chris Block, the Illinois-bred stretched out to win a turf allowance last fall at Keeneland. With regular rider Jareth Loveberry away at Turfway on Saturday, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will guide Oeuvre from post 12.

Lightly-raced and just a neck shy of a perfect 3-for-3 lifetime record, William Lawrence and Three Chimneys Farm’s Delahaye ships in from Gulfstream Park for her first class test. Trained by Chad Brown, the 4-year-old Medglia d’Oro filly blessed with natural speed has proven herself twice going 1 1/16 miles, including a last-out gate-to-wire first-level allowance score. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione gets the call aboard Delahaye, made 6-1 in the morning line. 

Here is the complete field for the Tom Benson from the inside out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line odds): 1. Tryinmyheartout (Jose Guerrero, Shane Wilson, 10-1); 2. Messidor (Ire) (Joel Rosario, Christophe Clement, 12-1); 3. Join the Dance (John Velazquez, Dallas Stewart, 10-1); Watch This Birdie (James Graham, Ignacio Correas IV, 8-1); 5. Gloria’s Princess (Marcelino Pedroza Jr., Brendan Walsh, 15-1); 6. Tufani (Ben Curtis, Mike Stidham, 8-1); 7. Flatter Me Silly (Corey Lanerie, Neil Pessin, 20-1); 8. Girl Named Charlie (Edgar Morales, Lindsay Schultz, 20-1); 9. Spirit And Glory (Ire) (Flavien Prat, Robert Falcone Jr., 4-1); 10. Delahaye (Tyler Gaffalione, Chad Brown, 6-1); 11. Hidden Connection (Rey Gutierrez, Bret Calhoun, 10-1); Oeuvre (Irad Ortiz Jr., Chris Block, 5-1); 13. Not So Close (Ricardo Santana Jr., Norm Casse, 20-1); 14. Freydis the Red (Fr) (Brian Hernandez Jr., Ken McPeek, 20-1).


Louisiana Derby/Fair Grounds Oaks Coverage on CNBC

Saturday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) and $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) will be shown as part of NBC Sports’ Road to the Kentucky Derby coverage and will air in a one-hour broadcast window on CNBC from 5-6 p.m. 

The broadcast will also include the $700,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) from Turfway Park.

NBC Sports’ coverage from Fair Grounds & Turfway Park will also be shown on Peacock.


Wagering Menu Loaded for Louisiana Derby Day

The robust wagering menu at Fair Grounds on Louisiana Derby Day includes three Pick Fours (races 2-5, 5-8 and 9-12), three Pick Fives with a 15% takeout (1-5, 4-8 and 8-12) and a $1 no jackpot Pick Six (also a 15% takeout – races 7-12). The “All Stakes Late Pick Five” will further entice horseplayers with a $500,000 guaranteed pool. The field sizes for the Late Pick 5 are 14-10-13-8-12.


Fair Grounds, Turfway Team Up for Bayou Bluegrass Pick Five

The Bayou Bluegrass Pick Five is a two-track, $1 Pick 5 featuring all stakes races from Fair Grounds and Turfway Park. The sequence will begin at Fair Grounds in Race 9 for the $500,000 New Orleans Classic (G2) presented by Relyne GI by Hagyard at 4:04 p.m. The second leg will switch to Turfway Park for the $300,000 Bourbonette Oaks with a scheduled post time of 4:43 p.m. Then, the third leg will go back to Fair Grounds and feature the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton at 5:12 p.m. The Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway will be the penultimate leg of the bet at 5:25 p.m. and it will close at Fair Grounds for the Louisiana Derby (G2) at 5:46 p.m.  


About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, one of the nation’s oldest racetracks, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, LA, Fair Grounds, which is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN), also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 16 off-track betting parlors throughout Southeast Louisiana. The 152nd Thoroughbred Racing Season–highlighted by the 111th running of the Louisiana Derby–will run from Nov. 17, 2023 through March 24, 2024. More information is available online at