Uruguayan Group I Races Available Thursday

(from Maryland Jockey Club report)
North American fans will have a rare opportunity to wager on a pair of Uruguayan group I races from Maroñas National Racetrack Thursday.

The Maroñas races will be offered by simulcast through Pimlico Race Course as Races 9 and 10 following the conclusion of live racing from the Baltimore track. Full fields of 14 horses each were drawn for both races, the Gran Premio J.P. Ramirez (Urg-I) at 4:20 p.m. ET and the Gran Premio Pedro Piñeyrua (Urg-I) at 5:10 p.m., on "Children's Day" in Uruguay.

There will be separate North American wagering pools, featuring win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and superfecta wagering. The takeout rate for win, place and show bets is 18%; the rate for exactas is 21%; and the rate for trifectas and superfectas is 25.75%. Magna Entertainment Corp. and Maroñas National Racetrack negotiated the deal.

Located in Uruguay's coastal capital city Montevideo, Maroñas had been one of South America's premier racing centers for more than 100 years, but fell into decline in the 1980s and closed in 1997. After a 5 ½-year hiatus, the historic racetrack reopened in 2003 as South America's first "racino" and has rapidly resumed its place among the region's most important racing venues.

Lone Star Park, Pimlico and Laurel Park's sister track, was hired to assist in the reopening and oversee Maroñas' racing operations.

This is the 110th running of The Ramirez, Uruguay's premier race and traditionally one of South America's most important classics. Named after Jose Pedro Ramirez, one of the founders of Maroñas National Racetrack, the Ramirez will be run at 2,400 meters (about 1 ½ miles). In a race boasting several legitimate contenders, the probable favorite is the 3-year-old Ad Better. (Horses foaled in the Southern Hemisphere do not add a year to their ages until July 1.)

The son of sprint sire Hearty will be cutting back 100 meters for The Ramirez, having captured Uruguay's 3-year-old championship after victories in the final two legs of the country's Triple Crown, the group I Jockey Club (2,000 meters) and the group I National (2,500 meters). Ad Better is the property of Maua Stable and is trained by Sarandi Juanico.

Champion Argentine jockey Pablo Falero, a native Uruguayan, will ride Davide, who finished only 1 1/4 lengths behind Ad Better in the National. The son of Much Better should receive heavy support from the betting public.

Local distance champion and 2,400-meter track record holder Robin Fir had his string of three straight victories cut short on Dec. 5 when surprised by improving 3-year-old Aguasfiestas in the Comparison Stakes. Virgen del Lujan Stable's Don Simon is riding a three-race winning streak, the last of those coming at 1,800 meters on Nov. 21.

Five Argentine-based runners invade for The Ramirez. El Idolo Stable's Holocausto (Halo Sunshine) comes off a victory in a group III stakes in Argentina on Dec. 19 and appears ready for a top effort. He is trained by Roberto Pellegata, who will be hoping to repeat last year's Ramirez victory by his trainee Bat Ruizero.

The entire field, by post position, with jockeys:
1 -- Robin Fir (Uru), Jorge W. Garcia, 132 lbs.
2 -- Ad Better (Uru), Ronoel Damacena 121 lbs.
3 -- Don Simon (Uru), Gustavo Duarte 134 lbs.
4 -- Aguasfiestas (Uru), Roni Von Souza 121 lbs.
5 -- Equipado (Arg), Jorge Ricardo 134 lbs.
6 -- Demonio Fitz (Arg), Irineo Tijera 134 lbs.
7 -- The Best (Uru), Carlos Bueno 121 lbs.
8 -- Potro Card (Arg), Jesus Medina 132 lbs.
9 -- Retrato (Arg), Miguel Abregu 132 lbs.
10 -- Holocausto (Arg), Julio Mendez 134 lbs.
11 -- Rich Li (Arg), Pablo Garcia 134 lbs.
12 -- Davide (Uru), Pablo Falero 121 lbs.
13 -- Nice Road (Arg), Fernando Olivera 121 lbs.
14 -- Hero's Son (Brz), Guido Bonacci 134 lbs.

The Pedro Piñeyrua promises to be a well-matched field of milers. Probable favorite for the race is Mistongo, the local star who has distinguished himself outside Uruguay by winning the Brazil Stakes (Arg-III) in Argentina in his most recent out at the Piñeyrua distance of 1,600 meters. Mistongo also finished a troubled fourth in the group I Gran Premio Latinoamericano in Chile back in April.

The full field:
1 -- Halcon Kid (Brz) Roni Von Souza 132 lbs.
2 -- One Champion (Brz) Nuber Mieres 132 lbs.
3 -- Hustle Guapo (Uru), Heber Egui 121 lbs.
4 -- Psycho (Arg), Jorge Garcia 132 lbs.
5 -- Mistongo (Uru), Carlos Bueno 130 lbs.
6 -- Forty Reside (Arg), Richard Eraria 121 lbs.
7 -- Emergente (Arg), Pablo Falero 130 lbs.
8 -- Palatino (Arg), Fernando Olivera 121 lbs.
9 -- John Bravo (Brz), Jorge Ricardo 132 lbs.
10 -- El Audaz (Uru), Ernesto Martinez 132 lbs.
11 -- El Dos mil (Uru), Esteban Lazo 130 lbs.
12 -- Filippo (Uru) 130 lbs.
13 -- Pecoso West (Arg), Jesús Medina 132 lbs.
14 -- El Cencerro (Uru), Mario Gonzalez 121 lbs.