Mister Marti Gras, winner of the 2011 edition of the Washington Park Handicap (gr. III), makes his fourth consecutive start in the $150,000 race Aug. 30 on the Polytrack at Arlington International Racecourse.
Lothenbach Stables' 7-year-old son of Belong to Me faces just five rivals in the 1 1/8-mile test, the eighth of nine races on the Saturday program at Arlington. The Chris Block trainee won the race in his first attempt by a neck three years ago, finished second the following year, and ran fourth last year.
With wins on synthetic, turf, and dirt during a 40-race career, Mister Marti Gras has proven his effectiveness with 10 victories, 11 seconds, and four thirds while earning $1,060,584. He began the year with trainer Neil Pessin but two starts at Fair Grounds Racecourse & Slots and Keeneland were unsuccessful, and the chestnut gelding was returned to Block at Arlington.
In three starts since, Mister Mari Gras owns a second-place run in the one-mile Hanshin Cup (gr. III) on Poly in May, a victory in a tough turf allowance race the following month, and a fifth on turf in the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) on grass in his most recent race July 12.
"He's really coming into the race good," Block said of the likely favorite. "He came out of his last race in great shape. He's just a pretty consistent type who trains very well and has always been that way. He's had some good spots in his career, but is in great form now and is in a nice pattern. Health-wise, he's really great. He's had some solid works and run really well against some good horses."
Eduardo Perez has the mount aboard the 121-pound starting highweight. Mister Marti Gras will be spotting his rivals from four to eight pounds.
"He is kind of like what I call a blue-collar horse and goes out there and performs on any surface and tries as hard as he can," Block said. "Distance-wise, he surprised me that he was so effective at one-turn, but I think that speaks to his quality. He is a horse who probably needs a little pace to help him out, but he kind of adapts to the situation."
Ida Tafel's Arlington-based Fordubai returns off a third-place finish after setting the pace in the listed Prairie Meadows Handicap July 26. All six of his starts in 2014 have been in stakes company including a victory in the listed Louisiana Handicap at the Fair Grounds in January for trainer Greg Geier. The 4-year-old E Dubai colt also ran third in the Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) and fourth in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) at the New Orleans oval.
Carrying 117 pounds Saturday, including the meet's leading rider James Graham, Fordubai has won twice in four tries over the main track including a minor stakes last year.
Avanzare makes his synthetic track debut after making his previous eight starts on turf, winning four and finishing seconds three times. His only finish outside the top two came in his last outing, a fourth in the Arlington Handicap. Trained by Tom Proctor for Donato Lanni and John F. Youngblood, the 4-year-old son of Grand Reward breezed fiver furlongs on the Polytack Aug. 26 in a bullet 1:00 flat. Chris Emigh has the call.
Kenneth Fishbein's 7-year-old Hattaash ran third in the Washington Park last year. The 10-time winner's only 2014 score came via disqualification when moved up to the top spot in a Mach 16 allowance race at Hawthorne Race Course. Sheldon Russell has the mount aboard the Cheryl Winebaugh-trained Strong Hope gelding.
Completing the field are Savoy Stable's Gimmeadrink, stepping into stakes company for trainer Dale Bennett off eight wins in his past nine starts, and Casner Racing's Only in America, third last time behind Gimmeadrink in an allowance/optional claiming test. Trainer Eoin Harty returns to blinkers for the 4-year-old Tiznow gelding.
Arlington International Racecourse, Saturday, August 30, 2014, Race 8
- 1 1/8m
- All Weather Track
- 3 yo's & up
- 4:26 PM (local)
|1||1Fordubai (KY)||James Graham||117||Greg Geier||-|
|2||2Gimmeadrink (FL)||Channing Hill||113||Dale Bennett||-|
|3||3Mister Marti Gras (KY)||Eduardo E. Perez||121||Chris M. Block||-|
|4||4Avanzare (KY)||Christopher A. Emigh||116||Thomas F. Proctor||-|
|5||5Only in America (KY)||Edgar Perez||113||Eoin G. Harty||-|
|6||6Hattaash (KY)||Sheldon Russell||114||Cheryl Winebaugh||-|