Synchrony Faces Deep Field in Muniz Memorial Handicap
One of the best middle-distance turf races so far in 2018 is scheduled to be run on March 24th at Fair Grounds, that being the $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap (gr. II).Held over a distance of “about” nine furlongs, the Muniz Memorial has attracted eleven starters, ten of which have won or placed in graded stakes company. The field is led by Synchrony, a five-year-old son of Tapit that recently returned from a long layoff to win the Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. III) last month with an explosive late rally, surging to the lead in the homestretch to win going away by two lengths.
Trained by Michael Stidham, Synchrony has drawn the rail in the Muniz Memorial and figures to work out an ideal ground-saving trip heading into the first turn. But he’ll need to be at his best to come out on top against this field, which includes not only the Fair Grounds Handicap runner-up Mr. Misunderstood (who is 8-for-9 on turf), but a host of fresh challengers as well.
Leading the charge is Ring Weekend, winner of the Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita back in 2015. The veteran of 29 starts has won six graded stakes races through the years and recently made his 2018 debut a winning one when he prevailed in a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park last month. He’s never run at Fair Grounds before, but has otherwise traveled the country and is a force to reckon with on his best day.
Danish Dynaformer, a Canadian classic winner by virtue of his victory in the 2015 Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine, will make his first start off a 10-month layoff while attempting to end a eight-race losing streak that dates back to the summer of 2016. Arklow, winner of the American Turf Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs last spring, recently made a winning return in an allowance race at Fair Grounds and is set to step back into graded stakes company. Forge has yet to break through at the graded stakes level, but the former British runner was beaten just a half-length by the champion in the Tampa Bay Stakes (gr. III) last month, a sharp effort that stamps Forge as one of the primary contenders in the Muniz Memorial.
Rounding out the field are Zulu Alpha, One Mean Man, and Galton, who finished fifth, seventh, and tenth in the Fair Grounds Handicap; Lucullan, beaten a neck in the Hill Prince Stakes (gr. III) last fall; and Revved Up, sixth in the Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes (gr. I) to kick off his 2018 campaign.
The Muniz Memorial is the ninth race on the Saturday card at Fair Grounds and has a projected post time of 5:06 p.m. Eastern.