By Fair Grounds (Press Release)
NEW ORLEANS (March 23, 2019) – While the tote board did not suggest a thrilling battle may be in store, that is exactly what horseplayers were treated to as Grade I winner Bricks and Mortar prevailed by a nose at odds of 1-5 over 62-1 longshot Markitoff in Saturday’s $291,000 Grade II Muniz Memorial Handicap.
Klaravich Stable and William H. Lawrence’s Bricks and Mortar, a winner of the Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf in his most recent start for trainer Chad Brown, dropped in class for the Muniz and tracked early while under strong restraint from Irad Ortiz, Jr. behind Three Diamonds Farm’s Mike Maker-trained Markitoff who set out on a solo lead through early splits of 24:82, 51.07 and 1:15.28 under Tyler Gaffalione. Bricks and Mortar engaged the leader on the far turn and into the lane, setting the scene for a stretch-long battle in which nose leads were swapped repeatedly in the final yards. In the end, it was the classy nose of Bricks and Mortar on the wire for a victory in 1:50.44 for the nine-furlong trip.
“He needs to have a target, so we didn’t want to go to the lead,” Ortiz said. “I tried to settle him without fighting him too much even though we were walking. I knew [Markitoff] was going to have something, and I knew we were going slow, so I just let him walk and kept close to him as a target.”
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