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Smart Bid Nips Expansion in Muniz

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI
Augustin Stable’s Smart Bid, who missed by a nose in his last start when second in the Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, turned up on the more profitable side of the photo finish camera when he captured the $400,000 Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap by a nose on Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Day program.


The Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial, the main event for older horses on Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course each season, is named in honor of Fair Grounds revered long-time racing secretary who died in 2003.


“I had a beautiful trip,” said winning rider Edgar Prado, who was aboard the Graham Motion-trained Smart Bid.  “She broke nice and I was in a good spot all the way around.  When I called he was there for me.  He fought real hard when he saw the other horse coming.  I am very proud of the horse.”


Smart Bid got the about mile and an eighth distance over the grass going rated firm in 1:49.97, increased his career earnings to $543,138 with his fourth win in 14 lifetime starts and returned mutuels of $8, $4.40 and $3.


Finishing second on the wrong side of Smart Bid’s nose victory was Millennium Farms and Mike McCarty’s Expansion, who won the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap by a head on Feb. 19 as the designed prep for the Muniz Memorial, and a head behind him in third was Correas Thoroughbreds favored Brazilian-bred Moryba.


Expansion paid $9.40 and $4, and Moryba returned $3.20 in the show spot.


Estrorace’s Workin For Hops made the pace with early fractions of 24.93 and 48.80 while well-rated by leading rider Rosie Napravnik, still had the lead at the furlong grounds and held on gamely to finish fourth, beaten less than a half-length.




Louie Roussel III’s Mambo Galliano, who began the Fair Grounds winter season with a victory in the $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap on opening day, closed out the session with a win in the $150,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes on the season’s penultimate racing program.


After being allowed to settle early by jockey James Graham, the Louie Roussel trainee rallied in the final furlong under strong right-handed urging and got up to be best by three-quarters of a length in the last strides.


Mambo Galliano increased his career earnings to $269,192 with his sixth career win in 18 lifetime starts and toured the six furlongs in 1:09.24.


Gold Mark Farm’s Backtalk finished second, paying $7.20 and $3.40, while a neck to the good of Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Early Return, who returned $2.10.  The Klein’ Cash Refund made the pace with fractions of 21.70 and 44.56 but weakened to fourth.




Oakcrest Farm et al.’s Upperline, heroine of the $58,000 Allen LaCombe Memorial Handicap last month as well as the Grade III Arlington Oaks last summer, justified her role as the favorite in Saturday’s $100,000 Bayou Handicap for older fillies and mares at about 5 1/2-furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course with a four-length tally.


Trained by Mike Stidham and ridden by Fair Grounds leading jockey Rosie Napravnik, the daughter of Maria’s Mon was always well placed, challenged for the lead when set down for the drive and drew off late.  


Upperline increased her career earnings to $270,987 with her fifth victory in 11 career starts, toured the distance over the firm going in 1:42.52 and returned mutuels of $4.40, $3 and $2.20.


James Perron Racing Stable’s Category Seven got up in the last strides to gain the place, paying $3.40 and $2.40 while finishing a head to the good of Sam-Son Farm’s Forest Uproar, who returned $2.60 to show.  Robert and Lawana Low’s Born Indy U S A made the pace with fractions of 23.94 and 48.14 before tiring.




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