Seth Klarman and William Lawrence's Bricks and Mortar was heavily favored at 1-5 in his first start since winning the inaugural Pegasus Turf, but the 5-year-old Chad Brown trainee had to work hard in Saturday's G2 Muniz Memorial H. to get his nose down in front of 62-1 longshot Markitoff. A son of Giant's Causway, Bricks and Mortar just won the photo finish under Irad Ortiz, completing the 1 1/8-mile course over the Fair Grounds' firm turf in 1:50.44.
“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.”
“I was very impressed with [his] ability to adapt to a very slow pace and also concede significant weight to the rest of the field and still prevail,” Brown said.
The field broke fairly evenly and no one horse seemed to want the lead as they raced toward the wire for the first time. Longshot Markitoff, toting 10 pounds less than the favorite, wound up about two lengths ahead of Hot Springs and Bricks and Mortar through measured fractions of :24.82, :51.07 and 1:15.28.
Bricks and Mortar tugged Ortiz into contention around the far turn, drawing up alongside Markitoff near the head of the lane. It looked as though Bricks and Mortar would go right on by, but Markitoff battled back against the rail and briefly regained his lead. Just in the shadow of the wire, Ortiz was able to get Bricks and Mortar's nose down in front to win. Markitoff had to settle for second, while Synchrony and Divisidero rounded out the superfecta.
Bred in Kentucky by George Strawbridge, Jr., Bricks and Mortar was a $200,000 yearling at the Keeneland September sale. Prior to the Pegasus Turf, the horse captured the G2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga. Overall, Bricks and Mortar owns seven wins from nine starts for earnings of nearly $3.2 million.
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