03/26/2011 6:25PM

Muniz: Smart Bid gets up in shadow of wire

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Racing in the Feb. 5 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap Feb. 5, Smart Bid did everything but win, coming up short by a nose. Saturday at Fair Grounds in the race preceding the Louisiana Derby, he saws his fortunes reversed in the Grade 2, $400,000 Mervin Muniz Memorial, this time prevailing by a nose in a thrilling finish.

Though Smart Bid enjoyed a smooth trip under Edgar Prado, Smart Bid – like other closers in the race – appeared to be disadvantaged early by a slow pace.

Workin for Hops was able to coast to the front and set an uncontested lead, setting soft splits of 24.93 seconds, 49.80, and 1:14.05 in the 1 1/8-mile race on a firm Fair Grounds race course.

The race appeared his for the taking on the final turn as he began to open up on the field, but Workin for Hops proved unable to carry his speed.
Favored Moryba, who tracked the pace in second for much of the going, passed him in midstretch, but ultimately couldn’t repel the kick of Smart Bid, who just outlasted Expansion, who was finishing fastest of all on the outside.

Prado, who had Smart Bid well positioned in fourth early, said Smart Bid dug in when Expansion rallied on the outside.

“He fought real hard when he saw that horse coming,” he said. “I am real proud of the horse.”

Favored Moryba held third in the Muniz, a head behind runner-up Expansion, and a neck ahead of pacesetting Workin for Hops.

Battle of Hastings, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, was scratched.

Trainer Graham Motion trained the winner, a 5-year-old son of Smart Strike, for owner-breeder George Strawbridge of Augustin Stable. He ran about 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.97, and returned $8.

The win from Smart Bid was one of two lucrative graded stakes victories for Motion in a manner of minutes Saturday. Soon after the Muniz was completed, another Motion trainee, Animal Kingdom, took the $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway.