(Edited press release)
The 15th running of the $500,000 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds March 10 drew a field of 11, topped by a pair of grade I winners, the Gary Tanaka-owned King's Drama and Midnight Cry Stable's Einstein.
King's Drama, the 7-2 morning-line favorite and highweight at 121 pounds, will make his seasonal debut in the Muniz. In his last seven U.S. starts, he has finished in the money, all in grade I or II company. Most recently, King’s Drama won the San Gabriel Handicap (gr. II) on New Year’s Eve at Santa Anita. Edgar Prado will break King's Drama from post nine for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.
The Helen Pitts-conditioned Einstein, who is the 4-1 second choice, won the Gulfstream Park Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. I) last February, but has been winless in four starts since, missing by three-quarters of a length in an attempt to defend his victory at Gulfstream two weeks ago. Six-time Fair Grounds leading rider Robby Albarado will break Einstein from the outside post.
Others in the Muniz field include Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) winner Cloudy's Knight; Desert Wheat, a two-time stakes winner at the meet in state-bred company; Heat of the Night, who will make only his second U.S. start for Pletcher; Hendrix, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by King's Drama in his last start; Neil Drysdale trainee Macduff, who will make his U.S. stakes debut; grade III-winning mare Naissance Royale; Sweet Return, who captured the Thunder Road Handicap at Santa Anita last month; The Carbon Unit, who made his U.S. debut in the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup; and Transduction Gold, a two-time allowance winner at the meet.
First post on March 10 is 1:35 p.m. ET.
Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT), $500,000 guaranteed, Fair Grounds, March 10, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles, approx. post: 2:38 ET
No. Horse, Trainer, Jockey, Weight, Odds
1. Heat of the Night ,Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez ,114, 12-1
2. Transduction, Gold John, Glenney James, Graham, 112, 15-1
3. Naissance Royale, Chroistophe Clement, Garrett Gomez, 114, 12-1
4. Desert Wheat, Bill Mott, Corey Lanerie, 112, 15-1
5. Sweet Return, Ron McAnally, Alex Solis, 118, 6-1
6. Cloudy’s Knight, James McMullen, Ramsey Zimmerman, 116, 5-1
7. Hendrix, Craig Dollase, Corey Nakatani, 117, 9-2
8. Macduff, Neil Drysdale, Julien Leparoux, 115, 15-1
9. King’s Drama, Bobby Frankel, Edgar Prado, 121, 7-2
10. The Carbon Unit, Eric Heitzmann, Pat Shanahan, 110, 30-1
11. Einstein, Helen Pitts, Robby Albarado, 119, 4-1