Will it be grass or dirt for Lothenbach Stables Mister Marti Gras? He was entered in the Feb. 25 Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the turf and the Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) on dirt on the same card at the Louisiana racetrack.
The son of Belong to Me has shown his best form on dirt recently, winning the Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) and Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III) and finishing fourth in the grade I Clark Handicap. He drew the rail in the Mineshaft and post 8 in the Fair Grounds Handicap.
His last grass start was a fast-closing second in the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) behind Tajaweed last July. Wherever he runs, the Neil Pessin-trained 5-year-old gelding will be ridden Shaun Bridgmohan.
A solid field of 10 was drawn for the about 1 1/8-mile race at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, headed by $816,000 earner Smart Bid, who hasn’t run since last September. Trained by Graham Motion for Augustin Stable, the son of Smart Strike is one-for-one at Fair Grounds, winning the Mervyn Muniz Jr. Handicap (gr. IIT) last March.
Though he has won only four of his 19 career starts, Smart Bid has finished in the money 15 times and was beaten by a nose in last year’s grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.
A familiar name in the field is Uptowncharlybrown , who has been trying to bounce back from an injury he suffered following his fifth-place finish, beaten three lengths, in the 2010 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) behind Drosselmeyer. The son of Limehouse , owned by Fantasy Lane Stable and trained by Eddie Coletti, will be ridden by Paco Lopez and drops six pounds (119 to 113) off his second-place finish in an allowance/optional claimer on the grass Jan. 28.
Another accomplished 3-year-old from the past in the field is Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Derby Kitten, winner of last year’s Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) on Keeneland’s Polytrack. The son of Kitten's Joy returned to the grass following a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and has since run third in the American Derby (gr. IIT) and Lone Star Derby, and won the Ontario Derby on Woodbine’s Polytrack. He’ll be ridden for the first time by Rosie Napravnik.
One of the more consistent horses in the race is the Mike Stidham-trained Gleam of Hope, who has finished worse than fourth only once in his last 10 starts, and that was a fifth-place finish in an allowance race at Churchill Downs last May. The son of City Zip finished close seconds in the Robert F. Carey Memorial at