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Smart Bid, Willyconker Head Muniz Hopefuls

Augustin Stable’s Smart Bid, defending champion in the Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap over the Stall-Wilson turf course, is expected to head the field once again in the upcoming 20th anniversary edition of Fair Grounds’ premier turf test for older horses.   

 

Trained by Graham Motion, Smart Bid won the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap Feb. 25 over the local lawn as the prep for the $400,000 Muniz Memorial on Louisiana Derby Day April 1, closing day of the current Crescent City racing season.

 

Also expected to contest the Mervin Muniz Memorial ’Cap is Andrews T & S Racing’s Mr. Vegas, a Richie Scherer trainee who finished second by a head to Smart Bid in the Fair Grounds ‘Cap and won the Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap here Jan. 21 as the first leg of the local grass series.

 

The Irish-bred Willyconker, owned by Kenney and Vielle Gardner and trained by Doug O’Neill, is expected to invade from the West Coast for the Mervin Muniz after capturing Santa Anita’s Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile over the California grass on March 3.

 

Others slated at this time for the Muniz Memorial include Team Block’s Suntracer, trained by Neil Pessin and most recently fourth in the Col. Bradley; Sam Houston’s Grade III John B. Connally winner Papaw Bodie, owned by Connie Apostelos and trained by Mike Maker; and Wertheimer et Frere’s Slow Pace, Kentucky-bred but French campaigned last year to win Maisons-Laffitte’s $79,000 Prix de Surenes before coming under the guidance of Todd Pletcher this season.

 

James Covello’s Swift Warrior, trained by John Terranova II and third in the Grade III Tampa Bay Stakes Feb. 25; Henry Pabst Trust’s Joinem, trained by David Carroll and a winner over the Gulfstream grass in his last start Feb. 11; and Resolute Group Stables’ Teaks North, conditioned by Tony Dutrow and fifth in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf in his last start Jan. 28, complete the list of those likely for the Mervin Muniz Memorial at this time.

 

 

 

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