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Mister Marti Gras Wins Grade III Washington Park 'Cap

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/23/2011 #

Lothenbach Stables' Mister Marti Gras rallied from far back to nail front-running favorite Workin For Hops in the final strides to win the Grade III $100,000 Washington Park Handicap Saturday at Arlington Park.

Eduardo Perez was astride the homebred son of Belong to Me who ran the mile and an eighth over Polytrack in 1:51.60. 

Content to keep the Chris Block-trained 4-year-old far back 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. Her rider, 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 referring to his second-place at Saratoga with Pachattack in the Grade I Personal Ensign 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 to boost his bankroll to $416,996.

Sent off at 7-1 odds, he paid $16.80, $7 and $3.40. Maristar returned $7.40 and $4.20. Workin for Hops paid $2.60.

Burj Alzain, Color Me Blue, Dark Cove, General Quarters and Hoosier Kingdom completed the order of finish in the eight-horse field.