A field of only six was drawn for the $300,000 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds Racetrack March 29, with one of the notables, Amira's Prince, also entered in the Pan American (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park the same day.
Although his name doesn’t sound like it, 5-year-old Real Solution also is by Kitten's Joy , and if he shows up in his 2014 debut in anywhere near the same form he displayed last summer and early fall, it his highly unlikely he will be beaten.
Brought to the U.S. from Italy after the 2012 season, Real Solution finished third behind Point of Entry in last year's Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park and then was second under the wire, beaten a head by The Apache, in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) but was placed first on a disqualification. He followed that up with a close third, beaten one length by Little Mike, in the Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont (gr. IT) before disappointing in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), finishing ninth.
With Rosie Napravnik aboard for the first time, Real Solution has been working sharply for his debut, including a bullet 1:00 breeze for five furlongs on the grass at Palm Meadows Training Center.
He will be conceding four to 10 pounds to his rivals, depending on where Amira’s Prince, with 118 pounds, winds up running. His trainer, Bill Mott, has two other horses entered in the Pan American.
Amira’s Prince won last year’s Mervin Muniz following a victory in the Mac Diarmida Stakes (gr. IIT), but did not run the remainder of the year. He returned off a 10-month layoff to finish a solid third in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) Feb. 9. The son of Teofilio drew the rail and will have Mike Smith aboard.
Of the remaining four horses, Potomac River, trained by Jose Canejo, is coming off a 14-1 upset score in the Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIIT) by a nose over Muniz opponent Skyring. His biggest win prior to that was in the River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs last November. He carries 117 pounds.
Skyring, for the most part, has been outdistanced in his races, but does sneak in a big one once in a while, capturing the Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) last year and getting beat a nose in the Fair Grounds Handicap, also at 14-1 odds. Joe Rocco will ride under 113 pounds.
Mister Marti Grasis a hard knocker who has run well in a number of stakes in the past two years. He is cross-entered in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II), also on Saturday's card.
The final horse, Burn the Mortgage, is seven for 25 lifetime, mainly in allowance and high-priced claiming company, but is out-classed in this spot.
$300,000 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, approximate post time 5:15 p.m. EDT), 4 Year-Olds and Up, 1 1/8 miles, Turf
1—Amira’s Prince (IRE), M.E. Smith, 118, W. Mott
2—Burn the Mortgage (KY), R. Albarado, 112, M. Maker
3—Real Solution (KY), R. Napravnik, 122, C, Brown
4—Potomac River (KY), J.P. Vargas, 117, J. Canejo
5—Mister Mardi Gras (KY), S. Bridgmohan, 113, N. Pessin
6—Skyring (KY), J.S. Rocco Jr., 113, D.W. Lukas