Lothenbach Stables' Mister Marti Gras rallied from far back to nail front-running favorite Workin For Hops in the final strides to win Arlington Park’s Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) by a neck Sept. 3 (VIDEO) .
Eduardo Perez was aboard the homebred gelding by Belong to Me who covered the 1 1/8 miles over Polytrack in 1:51.60.
Content to keep the Chris Block-trained 4-year-old far back in the eight-horse field early, Perez eased his mount to the outside on the second turn and made a strong rally down the center of the track to prevail at the wire while avoiding trouble just to his inside.
"My horse was running straight," Perez said. "I didn't cause the problem (near the wire). They told me to stay off the pace and didn't want me to be too close. I took my shot pretty good and my horse ran very hard."
At the same time the winner was making his move, Maristar was moving between horses and was steadied inside the sixteenth pole. Jockey E. T. Baird, claimed foul against both the winner and runner-up alleging interference. After a lengthy review, the stewards disqualified Workin for Hops from second and placed him third, moving Maristar to the second spot.
"(I) didn't have a rough trip until the last part of it, but I think I would have won if I hadn't gotten pinched," Baird said.
"(It's been) a very eventful hour," added Maristar's trainer Gerard Butler. He was referring to his second-place showing at Saratoga with Pachattack in the Personal Ensign Stakes (gr. I) and a move up to second here with Maristar.
The Washington Park was the first graded stakes victory for Mister Marti Gras, whose overall record improved to five wins from 17 starts. He earned $58,200 of the purse to boost his earnings to $416,996.
Mister Mardi Gras is out of the Cure the Blues mare Miss Marta. In his previous outing he was second to Tajaawad in the July 9 Arlington Handicap (gr. III) at the same trip. Earlier this year he had recorded wins on the main track at Fair Grounds and turf at Churchill Downs and ran third in Keeneland’s Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) over Polytrack.
Sent off at 7-1, he paid $16.80, $7 and $3.40. Maristar returned $7.40 and $4.20. Workin for Hops paid $2.60.