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Synchrony Headlines Full Muniz Memorial Classic
Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

Synchrony Headlines Full Muniz Memorial Classic

New Orleans, LA – Throughout a career that has now gone on longer than several of his rivals have been alive, a trip to Fair Grounds has always managed to serve as the litmus test to determine where Synchrony’s form lies.

It was over the New Orleans track where the 7-year-old son of Tapit earned his first win on turf back in 2017, thus setting himself on a path that has put him on the cusp of millionaire status. The oval has also been the site of three of his six career graded stakes victories, including his first graded triumph two seasons ago.

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So often Synchrony has enjoyed his best days while residing in the Big Easy and the Pin Oak homebred will try and keep his streak of high-level consistency going this weekend when he breaks from post 12 in the field of 13 entered for the $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes (G2).

The 1 1/8-miles Muniz is one of four graded stakes scheduled for Saturday’s Fair Grounds card, which will be highlighted by the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2).

This weekend will mark Synchrony’s third straight appearance in the Muniz having won the race in 2018 and finished third to eventual 2019 Horse of Year Bricks and Mortar in last year’s edition. The chestnut horse has never been worse than third in six tries over the Fair Grounds turf course and was mostly recently second to fellow Muniz entrant Factor This in the 1 1/8-miles Fair Grounds Stakes (G3) on Feb. 15.

“Not too worried about the post (12) going a mile and an eighth,” said Mike Stidham, trainer of Synchrony. “We have a long run going into the turn and that actually gives him a chance to break and not be forced to go. He is tactical enough that he can get a little position and drop over before the turn. He’s had the one race back (off a four-month freshening) and has trained really well since. We are looking for a big effort.”

Synchrony is seeking his first win since hitting the wire in front in the King Edward Stakes (G2) at Woodbine last June 29, but his back class was enough to make him the 3-1 choice on the Muniz morning line. He will have Joe Bravo in the saddle this weekend as he looks to build on a resume that boasts nine wins from 26 starts and $938,652 in earnings.

When Factor This got the best of Synchrony in the Fair Ground Stakes, he did so by taking matters into his own hands. The gelded son of The Factor led every point of call that day to earn his first graded success by one length.

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“With the rails down, speed can hold well, which is a plus for Factor This, who won that way last time,” said his trainer Brad Cox. “We will just have to see how the race unfolds. I have noticed an entry or two in the race that really don’t belong. They are just in there to assure a pace set-up. We’re not going to commit suicide with Factor This to get to the lead. It’s a mile and an eighth, we have a long run to the first turn to see how it sorts out.”

Factor This is part of a two-pronged entry from Cox as he will also send out the late-blooming Dot Matrix. The 7-year-old gelding began his 2020 campaign on a peak when he earned his first career graded stakes with a victory in the John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes (G3) at Sam Houston on Jan. 16.

“I feel like he is going into this race just as well as he went in the John Connelly,” Cox said. “He breezed fantastic on Saturday morning. Shortening up from a mile and a half distance of that race will work in Dot Matrix’s favor. This race comes up well timing-wise.”

A cut back in distance is also on tap for multiple Grade 1 winner Channel Maker, who normally makes his living over 11 and 12 furlongs. The Bill Mott-trained gelding has dropped his last six starts since winning the Man o’ War Stakes (G1) last May 11 but fell just a half-length short of taking the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (G1) in October.

“It’s all about the trip. He’s a difficult horse, he’s not an easy horse to ride,” Mott said. “It’s a little difficult to get the perfect trip with him. But if it happens, he usually shows up. We have been running him in longer races the last year. However, if you look back on him he has been effective at lesser distances as well. There was really nothing that fit into the schedule at this point in terms of going a little longer.”

$300,000 Muniz Memorial (G2), 4yo’s & up, 1 1/8 miles turf

1. Dot Matrix Geroux/Cox 8/1       
2. Aquaphobia Gaffalione/Maker 12/1     
3. Dontblamerocket Leparoux/Casse 12/1     
4. Rockemperor (IRE) Rosario/Brown 10/1     
5. Captivating Moon Hernandez, Jr./Block 15/1             
6. Instilled Regard Ortiz, Jr./Brown 5/1       
7. Henley’s Joy Santana, Jr./Asmussen 20/1     
8. Channel Maker Junior Alvarado/Mott 6/11       
9. Factor This Bridgmohan/Cox 10/1     
10. Secretary At War Beschizza/Casse 20/1     
11. Marzo G. Saez/Maker 15/1     
12. Synchrony Bravo/Stidham 3/1       
13. Bundibunan Lanerie/Correas 20/1     

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