(edited press release)
Johnanna Louise Glen-Teven’s Proudinsky , winner of the Muniz Memorial Handicap (gr. II) a year ago, is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in his quest to become the first back-to-back winner in the 17-year history of the event, Fair Grounds’ premier race for turf horses.
After last year’s win in the Muniz, Proudinsky went winless in his next six starts before rebounding in his last out with a three-quarters of a length victory in the grade II San Gabriel Handicap at Santa Anita Dec. 28. The March 14 race will mark the 6-year-old debut for the German-bred, who is trained by Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel and will be ridden by Victor Espinoza.
Proudinsky drew the outside post on Monday for the Muniz, contested at about 1 1/8 miles over the Stall-Wilson turf course. Just to Proudinsky’s inside will be last year’s Muniz runner-up, two-time grade III Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap winner French Beret.
The Mark Frostad trainee, owned by Sam-Son Farms, nosed out Golden Yank in the Bradley. As French Beret has been in both the Bradley and Fair Grounds Handicap, he is part of a coupled entry with stablemate Windward Islands.
The David Vivian-trained Soldier's Dancer, who became a millionaire with his win in the Sunshine Millions Turf last time out at Santa Anita, won three times last year, including the grade III Miami Mile Handicap at Calder Race Course in October.
The most intriguing entry in the Muniz may be grade I winner Brass Hat. The 8-year-old gelding, who won the 2006 New Orleans Handicap as part of the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs, has raced only once since last summer. The Buff Bradley trainee drew the rail.
Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap, grade II, $500,000, About 1 1/8 miles turf
(Post position—Name, jockey, weight, morning line odds)
1--Brass Hat, Calvin Borel, 113, 15-1
2--My Happiness, Shaun Bridgmohan, 115, 20-1
3--Golden Yank, Jamie Theriot, 116, 10-1
4--Wesley, John Velazquez, 115, 15-1
5 (a)--Windward Islands, Corey Lanerie, 118, 6-1
6--Soldier’s Dancer, Rafael Bejarano, 119, 7-2
7--Sir Whimsey, Gabriel Saez, 114, 15-1
8--Corrupt, Robby Albarado, 118, 10-1
9--El Caballo, Julien Leparoux, 114, 20-1
10--Nownownow, Edgar Prado, 116, 12-1
11--Demarcation, Jesus Castanon, 116, 15-1
12--Transduction Gold, Miguel Mena, 116, 8-1
13 (a)--French Beret, James Graham, 117, 6-1
14--Proudinsky, Victor Espinoza, 119, 3-1
(a)--Windward Islands and French Beret are coupled in the wagering (both owned by Sam-Son Farms).