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Mico Margarita Faces Stiffer Test in Saturday's Grade III Aristides

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/29/2014 #
  • Scatman (outside) is back to defend his Aristides title (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

  • Charlie LoPresti saddles Villandry and Set the Sail in the Opening Verse (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Mico Margarita, the romping 8 ¾-length winner of the $60,000 Oak Hall at Evangeline Downs in his last start, headlines a field of nine 3-year-olds and up that were entered for Saturday’s 26th running of the $100,000 Aristides (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.

Eight of the entrants are stakes winners, and the field of sprinters includes the top-two finishers in last year’s Aristides – Scatman and Jasizzle – and eight-time stakes-winning gelding Delaunay.

The six-furlong Aristides, which honors the inaugural Kentucky Derby winner of 1875, is one of two stakes races on Saturday’s 10-race card at Churchill Downs, and has been carded as the ninth race at approximately 4:49 p.m. ET. The $65,000-added Opening Verse, an overnight stakes for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf, goes as Race 10 at approximately 5:20 p.m. ET.

Mico Margarita, conditioned by three-time Aristides-winning trainer Steve Asmussen, enters the race off an ultra-fast performance in the Oak Hall, clocking six furlongs in 1:08.37 for his first win since capturing the $150,000 Carry Back (GIII) at Calder last July. Overall, the 4-year-old Run Away and Hide colt has won four of 16 starts and $310,675, but Saturday’s competition will be much stiffer.

Maggi Moss’ Delaunay, the durable 7-year-old who has banked $917,593, exits the Churchill Downs (GII) on Kentucky Derby Day in which he tired inside the final furlong to finish fifth after setting the pace. Claiming for $40,000 in May 2012, the Maryland-bred trained by Tom Amoss hasn’t missed a check in 13 subsequent races. At one point, he won six consecutive stakes capped by the 2013 Churchill Downs (GII). Earlier this year, Delaunay won the $57,600 F.W. Gaudin Memorial at Fair Grounds. Overall, he’s won 15 of 44 starts with 10 seconds and a trio of thirds.

Joseph Bucci’s Scatman returns to defend his Aristides title. Formerly trained by Bill Mott, the 5-year-old resurfaced under the care of Eddie Kenneally after a 335-day break to finish fourth in the $167,550 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII) on Kentucky Derby Day – his first race since beating Jasizzle by a neck in last year’s Aristides over a sloppy track. Overall, the son of Scat Daddy sports a record of 17-5-2-3—$322,981.

The Aristides field from the rail out (with jockeys): Brewing (Corey Lanerie), Jasizzle (Robby Albarado), Voodoo Storm (Marcelino Pedroza), Mico Margarita (Ricardo Santana Jr.), Jake Mo (Miguel Mena), Delaunay (Rosie Napravnik), Scatman (Julien Leparoux), Captain Genius (Leandro Goncalves) and Take It Like a Man (Joe Rocco Jr.).

All but Brewing will carry 120 pounds. Brewing, a 3-year-old late supplement by Zayat Stables LLC and three-time Aristides-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas, will receive a two-pound weight break for his first try against elders.

Regally Ready, the Asmussen-trained millionaire and the Charlie LoPresti-trained duo of Villandry and Set the Sail, headline a competitive renewal of the Opening Verse, which often serves as a steppingstone to the $200,000-added Firecracker (GII) at one mile over the Matt Winn Turf Course on June 28.

The Opening Verse field from the rail out (with jockeys): Villandry (Leparoux), Set the Sail (Lanerie), O’Prado Ole (Mena), Knights Nation (Calvin Borel), All Stormy (Albarado), Paris Vegas (Rocco), Regally Ready (Napravnik), Cup of Joy (Carlos Villasana), Olympic Thunder-BRZ (Santana), Strike One (Jesus Castanon) and Keg Party (Goncalves).

The first race on Saturday, billed as “Summer N’Spires,” is 12:45 p.m. ET. In addition to live racing, there’ll be food trucks and music by Mike Short and Outlaw Revival and Thumper and the Plaid Rabbits in the Plaza from 12-6 p.m. Also, there’s a free “Basics of Betting” seminar in The Parlay from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. hosted by the Courier-Journal’s Jennie Rees and panel of experts.