It's no secret that Synchrony has a strong affinity for Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots' Stall-Wilson Turf Course having maintained a perfect record in four starts over the surface. But if he wishes to protect his title in Saturday's Grade 2 $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap, the 6-year-old son of Tapit will face his toughest test yet on his home course.
The Pin Oak Stables homebred has won back-to-back editions of the G3 Fair Grounds Handicap in addition to last year's Muniz Memorial Handicap and defeated the likes of graded stakes winners Ring Weekend, Arklow and Mr. Misunderstood to name a few. This time around however, he will face one of the best turf horses in North America with Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf winner Bricks and Mortarshipping in for the race.
Nevertheless, trainer Michael Stidham is not fazed.
“We'll take on whoever runs,” Stidham said. “The horse is really doing well, he had a little break after (third-place effort in the G2 Seabiscuit Handicap) at Del Mar (on November 24). He came back and obviously was ready to go right off the shelf. Since then, he's breezed really well. He's very healthy and mentally good so we're ready to go. He couldn't be coming into the race any better than he already is. Had the one race back, second race off the layoff and I'm happy with where we're at.”
Since a win in the Fair Grounds Handicap last time out on February 16, Synchrony has recorded a trio of works in preparation for Saturday's test, the most recent of which was a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.60.
Stidham says that the ultimate goal this year with Synchrony is to win a Grade 1 race. He has raced twice against such caliber, including a third-place effort in last year's G1 Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.
“We're going to try to focus on winning a Grade 1 with him and those are the spots we'll be looking the hardest at,” Stidham said. “This is the first step in that direction.”
The Muniz Memorial Handicap awards the winner an automatic entry fees paid berth into both the G1 $1 million Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 4 and the G1 $1 million Arlington Million at Arlington International Racecourse on August 10.
In addition to his trio of graded stakes triumphs over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, Synchrony has won a pair of Grade III events over the grass at Monmouth Park when taking last year's Oceanport Stakes (July 29) and Red Bank Stakes (September 1).
Synchrony is out of the Forest Wildcat broodmare Brownie Points who was a multiple stakes winner on dirt and turf. She also produced Chocolate Kisses who is a recent graded stakes winner on dirt.
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