Skyring leads the way in the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Handicap.<br><a target="blank" href="!i=3149311564&k=psCrzFG">Order This Photo</a>

Skyring leads the way in the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Handicap.
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Hodges Photography/Alexander Barkoff

Skyring Scores Front-Running Upset in Muniz

Skyring holds off Amira's Prince to earn second grade II win of his career.

Skyring snapped a seven-race losing streak dating back to last year's Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) on the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) undercard at Pimlico Race Course when he delivered a front-running victory in the $288,000 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Handicap (gr. IIT) March 29 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots (VIDEO).

Calumet Farm's Skyring, who typically shows early speed, entered the race off a runner-up finish in the Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIIT) by a nose to Muniz rival Potomac River. That race featured more early speed than the Muniz, but Saturday's race saw bettors turn to a pair of classy runners in last year's Arlington Million Stakes (gr. I), winner Real Solution  and last year's Muniz winner Amira's Prince.

In this year's Muniz, Skyring cruised through a quarter-mile in :25.10 and a half-mile in :50.79 on the yielding Fair Grounds turf while shadowed by longshot Burn the Mortgage. Skyring put away any threat from Burn the Mortgage turning for home and opened a 2 1/2-length lead in midstretch.

Amira's Prince, who entered off a third-place finish in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) Feb. 9, launched a late bid to provide some stretch drama under Mike Smith but the son of Teofilo would come up just short as Skyring registered a neck upset victory.

"When we turned for home and he switched leads for me, he kicked so hard I would have been surprised if anyone came and ran him down," said winning jockey Joe Rocco Jr. "I knew Mike's horse (Amira's Prince) was coming for me, but even though the stretch here is so long, I thought we were going to get there."

Skyring completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.01. Conditioned by Racing Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Skyring has won six of 29 starts, including three stakes victories. The 5-year-old son of English Channel  has earned $659,061.

Burn the Mortgage held third as the 6-year-old Kitten's Joy  horse earned his first stakes placing since 2012. Real Solution, who carried six more pounds than the winner, raced wide early and never threatened late, finishing fourth in his first start since running ninth in the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. I). 

Skyring paid $17.40 to win, $5.20 to place, and $3.20 to show while Amira's Prince returned $2.60 and $2.10. Burn the Mortgage paid $$3.60 to show.

Bred in Kentucky by Calumet owner Brad Kelley's Bluegrass Hall, Skyring is out of the Seattle Slew mare Violet Lady, who also has produced grade II winner Greenspring, stakes winner Caballero Negro, and three stakes-placed horses.