Second Chances: Well-Bred Marsalis One to Watch for Stonestreet & Asmussen

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Marsalis | Stonestreet

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In this continuing series, TDN's Senior Editor Steve Sherack catches up with the connections of promising maidens to keep on your radar.

In a race that didn't deserve a loser, Stonestreet homebred Marsalis (c, 3, Curlin–Hot Dixie Chick, by Dixie Union) came up a head short on debut after running hard the entire way on the GII Risen Star S. undercard Feb. 19 (video).

The well-bred chestnut's worktab was highlighted by a five-furlong bullet from the gate in :59 4/5 (1/47) at Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen's Fair Grounds base Jan. 30 and he was off as the 7-5 favorite.

Drawn wide in post nine with Joel Rosario in the irons, Marsalis flashed smart early speed and was immediately hounded to his outside by fellow firster Momentous (Speightstown) through an opening quarter in :22.29. Head and head with that Todd Pletcher-trained rival as they approached the quarter pole, Marsalis continued to fight on gamely from the inside with neither giving an inch down the stretch and crossed the wire a painful second in an absolute thriller. It was 5 1/4 lengths back to Major Contender (Distorted Humor) in third.

The final time for six furlongs was 1:09.58. Marsalis earned a solid 75 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.

“Two really good horses–he ran super,” Stonestreet's bloodstock advisor John Moynihan said.

“He showed a lot of promise last year as a 2-year-old, but he bucked his shins, so we decided not to press on and try to run him at two. Ever since Steve's had him, he's really liked him. But he's one of those horses that from the time we've had him at the farm, he always trained super. [Stonestreet trainer] Ian [Brennan] really really liked him. He went on to Steve and he expected him to really run well.”

Marsalis's pedigree is Stonestreet and Asmussen top and bottom. Hailing by the duo's two-time Horse of the Year and leading sire Curlin, Marsalis is out of 2009 GI Spinaway S. heroine Hot Dixie Chick, a $435,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Old purchase by Barbara Banke's Grace Stables.

The half-sister to GI Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming (Bodemeister) has also produced young Sequel stallion Union Jackson (Curlin), MSW & GSP; and MGSW Pauline's Pearl (Tapit). The latter lines up in Saturday's GII Azeri S. at Oaklawn.

Hot Dixie Chick had a colt by Constitution in 2021 and was bred back to Quality Road.

“Hot Dixie Chick was a great 2-year-old–she was a really good filly,” Moynihan said. “We bought her out of a 2-year-old sale. It was actually the first horse that Barbara bought on her own while Mr. Jackson was still alive. Hot Dixie Chick has really come on–she had Pauline's Pearl, who ran in the Kentucky Oaks last year. Her first foal Union Jackson was quite talented as well.”

Marsalis has since returned to the worktab with a pair of four-furlong breezes for Asmussen in NOLA, including a :50 flat (19/27) move Mar. 7. Anything penciled in for his next start yet?

“We'll let Steve dictate that, but I'm sure it will be another maiden race,” Moynihan concluded.

Previous standouts featured in 'Second Chances' include: two-time Breeders' Cup winner Golden Pal (Uncle Mo), GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby winner and Lane's End stallion Honor A. P. (Honor Code), MGISW and 'TDN Rising Star' Paradise Woods (Union Rags), last weekend's GII WinStar Gulfstream Park Mile S. winner Speaker's Corner (Street Sense), GIII Las Virgenes S. heroine Moonlight d'Oro (Medaglia d'Oro), GII Los Alamitos Futurity winner and MGISP Spielberg (Union Rags), GSW Backyard Heaven (Tizway), MSW and 'TDN Rising Star' Gidu (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) and GI Frizette S. third-place finisher A Mo Reay (Uncle Mo).

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