Team Block's Mystery Giver is the 120-pound highweight in a wide-open field of ten turf specialists entered in the $500,000 Mervin G. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds Sunday.
Mystery Giver enters the 1 1/8-mile Mervin Muniz, which was formerly known as the Explosive Bid, off a neck victory in the Jan. 31 Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap. The 6-year-old son of Dynaformer
also won that race in 2002 and 2003.
Trained by Richard Scherer, Mystery Giver has won 10 of 28 career starts, including last year's Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT), and earned $770,510.
Looking to avenge a pair of narrow loses in his last two starts is J. Mack Robinson's Skate Away. The 5-year-old gelded son of Belong to Me
lost by a neck to Mystery Giver in the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap and returned to finish second by a nose to Mervin Muniz-rival Majestic Thief in the Mardi Gras Handicap at Fair Grounds three weeks later.
Trained by Jeff Trosclair, Skate Away has won seven of 26 career starts and earned $380,330.
Majestic Thief's win in the Mardi Gras was his first career stakes victory. In four seasons of racing the gelded son of Mahogany Hall has won six of 27 career starts and earned $261,784.
Trainer Bobby Frankel will ship in Juddmonte Farms' homebred Burning Sun for his second start in North America. After shipping from Europe, where the 5-year-old son of Danzig
was a group II winner, Burning Sun won a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Santa Anita on Feb. 29.
Frankel will also enter Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Nothing to Lose, who won the Palm Beach Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream two starts back and enters off a second-place finish in the Jan. 19 San Marcos Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita.
Proud Man exits a win in the Jan. 24 Sunshine Millions Turf; Political Attack won the Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder and December and finished second in the Appleton Handicap (gr. IIIT) in his only prior start this year.
Also entered are Silver Tree, who finished fourth in the Hollywood Park Derby (gr. IT) two starts back and won a Feb. 22 Gulfstream allowance last time out; and Herculated, who will be making his stakes debut after three straight allowance wins for trainer Michael Stidham.
The field in post position order:
1. Silver Tree, Jerry Bailey, 118
2. Skate Away, Gerard Melancon, 117
3. Burning Sun, Alex Solis, 116
4. Nothing to Lose, Kent Desormeaux, 118
5. Majestic Thief, Shane Sellers, 116
6. Willard Straight, Jorge Chavez, 116
7. Herculated, Frank Lovato Jr., 116
8. Proud Man, Rene Douglas, 118
9. Mystery Giver, Robby Albarado, 120