String King Recovering From Illness
March 12, 2015 01:44pm
Fan-beloved Louisiana-bred String King will be unable to make his appointment with the Grade II $300,000 Mervin H. Muniz, Jr. Memorial Handicap on Louisiana Derby Day – Mar. 28 – according to owner-trainer-breeder Charlie Smith. 


“He’s had some time off and he’s probably going to have to have a little bit more,” Smith reported.  “He got sick on me with a kidney infection about two weeks ago and we’ve been fighting that.  On top of that, with the weather being bad, the track froze and he’s missed 16 out of the last 26 days of training.  I already called the agent for (regular rider) James (Graham) and let him know that we won’t be able to make the race.”


In Northern Louisiana with his Louisiana Downs-based conditioner, the son of Crowned King was expected to be one of the favorites in the 23rd running of Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ marquee turf race.  In 2013, the 10-time stakes winner (six of those at Fair Grounds) was third in the Muniz behind multiple graded stakes winners Amira’s Prince and Willcox Inn.  The son of Crowned King – a 15-time winner – exits two consecutive stakes victories over the New Orleans oval’s Stall-Wilson turf course, including a spirited coup in the Grade III $125,000 Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap on Jan. 17.


“I’m so disappointed that we won’t make the Mervin Muniz,” Smith said.  “He belongs with those horses and he’s rounding back, but he won’t be anywhere near ready to run.  He was off his feet for a few days and deserves more time.


“It’s not even about the good purse and the money, it’s about the horse,” he continued.  “I wanted him to have a chance to run against those horses.  It’s very sad.  He doesn’t owe me     or anyone else anything, though.  He deserves the time and the rest.  I basically sleep with the horse and watch his every move, but you can’t help these things sometimes.  Funny thing is, he really didn’t lose his good feeling when he was sick, but I could tell.  He acted like he was fine, but I know him.  Now that he’s getting better, the problem will be trying to keep him from feeling too good.”


According to Smith, the earner of $818,552 does not have a goal race planned at this time.  While prestigious Kentucky graded stakes were on the radar before the ailment – namely the Grade I $500,000 Woodford Reserve on Kentucky Derby Day – such is no longer in the cards.



Windy Hill Farm’s Tuba, who broke through with a tour-de-force stakes victory in the $60,000 Black Gold Stakes on Feb. 28, will rest on his laurels a little longer, according to conditioner Anne Smith.  The son of Magna Graduate wired an unsuspecting field that included the highly regarded Louisiana Derby prospect and post-time favorite Another Lemon Drop in what was the second victory of his career from seven starts.  Jose Riquelme was in the irons.


“So far he’s alright,” Smith reported.  “Right now we’re taking our time and giving him some time.”


A tall, long-striding horse who is known around the barn to have a quirky personality, Tuba could carry that charisma to a stakes or allowance at the upcoming Keeneland meet for his connections – but no solid plans have been made.  A logical spot could be the Grade III $100,000 Transylvania Stakes on opening day (Apr. 3) at the Lexington, Kentucky track. 




Two Dimes Stable’s Paroled is in the best form of his 35-race career for trainer Angel Montano.  The dark bay Flatter gelding displayed such on Sunday afternoon when he smashed the Stall-Wilson turf course’s one-mile track record at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots under Brian Hernandez, Jr., establishing a 1:34.51 mark and earning an Equibase Speed Figure of 112 – second in his career only to the 115 mark he earned two starts prior in his 6-year-old debut on dirt. 


In nine starts for Montano, following a $30,000 claim in June of 2014, Paroled has gradually improved, including running his five highest figures.  He has won three of those races, but none were as impressive as the under-wraps display on Sunday – a performance so sharp, it has his connections considering an ambitious wheel-back into the meet’s premier turf race.


"He came out okay – so far so good,” Montano said.  “We don’t know what we’re going to do for sure yet, but my owner is going to call me and maybe we’ll take a shot at the (Grade II $300,000 Mervin H. Muniz, Jr. Memorial) Handicap (on Mar. 28).  He ran very well and is getting better.”


The Muniz is contested over a grassy 1 1/8 miles, a trip over which the veteran has never raced.  While a significant step up from his conditioned allowance victory for a gelding who has never annexed a stakes, it is worth noting that the Kentucky-bred half-brother to Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup winner Hot Cha Cha left three graded stakes winners – Infinite Magic, General Election and Regally Ready – and a quickly improving allowance charge Aztec Brave in his wake on Sunday.

Source: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots


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