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MISTER MARTI GRAS TOPS WASHINGTON PARK HANDICAP
Lothenbach Stables' Mister Marti Gras, winner of the 2011 edition of the Grade III Washington Park Handicap, faces five rivals on Saturday in his quest for a second victory in the 1 1/8-miles $150,000 race at Arlington International Racecourse.
A 7-year-old son of Belong to Me, Mister Marti Gras will be making his fourth consecutive start in Arlington's long-standing main track fixture. The Chris Block trainee won the race in his first attempt three years ago, finished second the following year and ran fourth last year.
In three starts this year, Mister Marti Gras owns a second-place run in the one-mile Grade III Hanshin Cup in May, a victory in a tough turf allowance race the following month and a fifth on turf in the Grade III Arlington Handicap. Eduardo Perez has the mount aboard the 121-pound starting highweight who will be spotting his rivals from four to eight pounds.
Jim Tafel LLC's Fordubai returns to his Chicago homebase off a third-place finish after setting the pace in the Listed Prairie Meadows Handicap in Iowa last month. All six of his starts in 2014 have been in stakes company including a victory in the Listed $100,000 Louisiana Handicap at the Fair Grounds in January for trainer Greg Geier. The 4-year-old E Dubai colt will carry 117 pounds Saturday including the meet's leading rider James Graham.
Lanni and Youngblood's Avanzare will be making his synthetic track debut in the Washington Park Handicap after making his previous seven starts on turf where he only once finished outside the top two; that coming in his last outing, a fourth in the Grade III Arlington Handicap. The Tom Proctor-trained son of Grand Reward has three wins and three seconds in seven starts this year. The 4-year-old gelding has been assigned 116 pounds Saturday and will be ridden by Chris Emigh.
Kenneth Fishbein's 10-time winner Hattaash is looking to better his third-place finish in this event one year ago. The 7-year-old Strong Hope gelding's only 2014 score came via disqualification when moved up to the top spot in a Mach 16 allowance race at Hawthorne Race Course. Sheldon Russell has the mount aboard the Cheryl Winebaugh trainee who will carry 114 pounds Saturday.
Completing the field for the Washington Park Handicap (with jockey and weight assignments) are: Savoy Stable's Gimmeadrink (Channing Hill, 113 pounds) and Casner Racing's Only in America (Edgar Perez, 113).