By Ryan Martin
Rick, Donna and Jeffrey Awtrey’s Marquee Prince is the lukewarm favorite in a field of eight that has been assembled for Saturday’s $60,000 Lloyd ‘Captain’ Maestri Memorial Overnight Stakes.
Breaking from the rail for the one mile event for sophomores over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, the son of Cairo Prince returns to the grass after two fifth-place finishes against stakes company over the main track, which took place in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Springboard Mile at Remington Park. Three starts back, Marquee Prince was a runway winner in a first level allowance race over Churchill Downs’ Matt-Winn Turf Course, which he won by 12¼ lengths in wire-to-wire fashion. He will be guided by Florent Geroux and is trained by two-time defending leading trainer Brad Cox, who seeks his fourth stakes victory this meet. He is out of the stakes placed Include broodmare Try to Remember who produced Grade I-placed Holiday Soiree.
Breaking from post three as the 4-1 second choice for the event is Vivid Verse who will try two turns for the first time. Owned by Highlander Training Center and trained by Joe Sharp, the son of Cross Traffic won his last two outings which both took place over the local lawn. He broke his maiden at second asking in November over a firm going before defeating winners over a yielding turf the following month. Vivid Verse is out of the stakes winning Stormy Atlantic broodmare Madrilena and was bred in Kentucky by Ralph Kinder, Erv Woolsey and Spendthrift Farm. He will be guided by Adam Beschizza.
Bluegrass Parkway (post two, 8-1, Corey Lanerie), Courtyard (post four, 6-1, James Graham), Conative (post five, 12-1, Ezequiel Lara), Corruze (post six, 7-2, Mitchell Murrill), Spectacular Gem (post seven, 6-1, Joe Rocco, Jr.) and West Texas (post eight, 8-1, Marcelino Pedroza) round out the field.
The Lloyd ‘Captain’ Maestri Overnight Stakes is named in honor of the late captain of the New Orleans Police Department who was a fixture and a familiar face at Fair Grounds for decades. A friend of many horsemen and racing officials, Maestri passed away last January at the age of 91.