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Munnings finds his track in Gulfstream Sprint Championship

Munnings will target the Carter H. in early April (Guy Gustafson/Horsephotos.com)

Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's MUNNINGS (Speightstown) was more workmanlike than flashy in Saturday's $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (G2), but kicked off his four-year-old season the right way when delivering a one-length score for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Javier Castellano. The even-money favorite pressed Biker Boy (Came Home) through splits of :23 1/5 and :46 1/5, put that stubborn rival away a furlong out and held off comers from the back in a time of 1:22 2/5 for seven furlongs over the fast main track. Munnings returned $4, $3 and $2.40 to his many followers.

There was a three-way photo for the place. Congressional Page (Orientate), a wide-trip fifth rounding the far turn, held off Motovato by a nose and gave back $9.60 and $5.80 at 14-1. Motovato broke in the air and conceded the field several lengths in the early stages. Still last of nine with three-eighths to go, he turned in a solid stretch kick on the far outside at nearly 11-1. He paid $4. Fourth, a nose behind Motovato, was Inkado (Yankee Gentleman), the near 38-1 longshot who made his rally up the inside and just missed hitting the board. The exotics were worth $45.60 (exacta), $251.20 (trifecta) and $2,925.60 (5-9-8-1 superfecta).

Biker Boy weakened to fifth and was followed by Presto Change O (Grand Slam), You and I Forever (A.P. Indy), Peace Chant (War Chant) and Solar Flare (Arg) (Salt Lake). Prince Joshua (First Tour) was scratched.

"I was a little concerned that he might not be ready for his best as things didn't go exactly as planned off the layoff, missing a prep in the Mr. Prospector (S. [G3] on January 9) when we scratched because of the wet track. But he was good enough and classy enough to overcome it and win," Pletcher said. "We'll consider the (Gulfstream Park H. [G2] at one mile on March 13) if he's doing well and then maybe the Carter H. ([G1] at Aqueduct on April 3) after that to get that elusive Grade 1 win for him."

Bred by Dan Tayloe and Glencrest Farm in Kentucky, Munnings was a $1.7 million purchase at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton February Select Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training at Calder. He won at first asking by 4 1/4 lengths as a juvenile before placing in both the Hopeful S. (G1) and Champagne S. (G1). At three, Munnings captured the Woody Stephens S. (G2) and Tom Fool H. (G2) before concluding his campaign with three consecutive third-place efforts in the Haskell Invitational (G1), King's Bishop S. (G1) and Vosburgh S. (G1), all in sloppy conditions.

Produced from the unraced La Comete (Holy Bull), Munnings has a yearling full sister. La Comete is a half-sister to last year's Personal Ensign S. (G1) winner Icon Project (Empire Maker) and Grade 2 victor Lasting Approval (With Approval). Munnings' second dam is Grade 1 heroine La Gueriere (Lord at War [Arg]), who is herself a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Al Mamoon (Believe It). The family has also yielded Grade 1 winners Honor in War (Lord at War [Arg]) and Ordway (Salt Lake). Munnings' record now stands at 11-4-2-4, $707,240.

Munnings' female family traces back to the Hall of Fame mare and blue hen Searching (War Admiral), the dam of champion Affectionately (Swaps), who produced Horse of the Year and 1970 Preakness S. winner Personality (Hail to Reason), and Priceless Gem (Hail to Reason), who defeated Buckpasser in the 1965 Futurity S. and was the dam of the brilliant French mare Allez France (*Sea-Bird). This is also the family of Broodmare of the Year Glowing Tribute (Graustark), the dam of 1993 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Sea Hero (Polish Navy) and multiple Grade 1 winner Hero's Honor (Northern Dancer).


 


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