Washington Park Next Mister Marti Gras Party


After nailing down his first stakes win since 2011, two-time grade III victor Mister Marti Gras will try for a second straight score when he faces an expected five other older horses in the $150,000 Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) Aug. 31 at Arlington Park.

A homebred for Robert Lothenbach, Mister Marti Gras won the 2011 edition of the Washington Park. He enters this year's 1 1/8-mile, main-track race off a three-quarter-length victory in the $125,000 Mystic Lake Mile at Canterbury Park, a race that was moved from the grass to the dirt because of a rain-soaked turf course.

The victory at Canterbury continued the solid start to the season for Mister Marti Gras. The 6-year-old Belong To Me   gelding opened the year with runner-up finishes in an allowance race on the turf at Keeneland and the Hanshin Cup Stakes (gr. III) on the Arlington Park Polytrack.

Trainer Chris Block will saddle Mister Marti Gras, who has won stakes races on dirt, synthetic, and turf surfaces in his five seasons of racing.

Looking for his first stakes victory since 2011 will be Lael Stable and All In Stable's Willcox Inn, a 5-year-old Harlan's Holiday   horse who enters off a fifth-place finish in the United Nations Stakes (gr. I) July 6 at Monmouth Park. Grade II winner Willcox Inn registered three stakes wins in 2011, including a victory on the Arlington Polytrack in the Arlington Classic.

Willcox Inn has been knocking on the door this season with runner-up finishes in both the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Handicap (gr. II) on the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots turf and the Dixie Stakes (gr. II) on the Pimlico Race Course turf.

Trained by Michael Stidham, the connections were considering a start in the Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. II) Aug. 31 on the Saratoga Race Course turf but opted to stay in suburban Chicago when they were unable to charter a flight to upstate New York. Willcox Inn and Mister Marti Gras are each scheduled to carry high weight of 122 pounds.

$150,000 Washington Park Handicap (gr. III, race 9, approximate post time 5:04 p.m. CDT) 3YO&Up, 1 1/8 miles, Polytrack

PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer

1. Color Me Blue (IL), F. Geroux, 115, B. Williamson

2. Hattaash (KY), E. Esquivel, 116, C. Winebaugh

3. Mister Marti Gras (KY), E. Perez, 122, C. Block

4. Gallant Eagle (IRE), E. Perez, 112, J. Good

5. Willcox Inn (KY), J. Graham, 122, M. Stidham

6. Agent Di Nozzo (KY), S. Bridgmohan, 118, S. Margolis