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Al Muhtasib Glides Over Fair Grounds Slop

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI
William Butler’s Al Muhtasib was a convincing 3 ¼-length gate-to-wire winner in Monday’s $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap, originally carded for 1 1/16 miles on turf but moved to a “sloppy” main track.

A 4-year-old Distorted Humor colt last seen finishing third in the $150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel at Fair Grounds on Dec. 3, Al Muhtasib set moderate fractions of 24.42, 48.48 and 1:13.03 before widening his lead in the stretch and finishing the 8 ½ furlongs in 1:43.63. Leading jockey Rosie Napravnik, initially scheduled to ride Suntracer, picked up the mount mid-afternoon after that morning line favorite elected not to try the mud.

“He jumped out of the gate sharp today and he just relaxed and had plenty left for the lane,” Napravnik said. “I had a ton of horse the whole way. He was tugging on me waiting for me to tell him to go.”

Trained by Mike Maker, the winner paid $9.20, $4 and $3.80 while increased his career earnings to $250,738.

The running order never changed at any point of call, with Chester J. Miller and Patrick J. Dupuy’s Strike Impact holding on for second, and paying $5.20 and $3, while 1 ½ lengths to the good of John Wade’s Pedrolino, who returned $3.60.

The field scratched down to five horses after it was announced that the race would be transferred to the main track. Favored Worldly and Ready Set rounded out the order of finish.

Al Muhtasib was saddled by Maker’s assistant, Joe Sharp, who married Napravnik in October. Afterwards, Sharp was asked what instructions he gave his wife in the paddock.

“I learned not to give her too many instructions,” Sharp said. “Doesn’t work out too well. I respect her job. She is good at what she does and she respects mine and we have a good balance. She doesn’t need any instructions.”

Sharp confirmed that Al Muhtasib had been entered with an off-the-turf scenario in mind and would not have run on the turf.


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