Veterans Simmard & Musketier Likely Choices in Mac Diarmida
By Jack Will
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Stella Perdomo’s 10-year-old German-bred Musketier and Haras Santa Maria de Araras’ 7-year-old Simmard are proven long-distance turf stakes performers for trainer Roger Attfield over several seasons. They look like the horses to beat in a wide-open field of 10 drawn for Sunday’s $150,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes to be run at 1 3/8 miles on turf.
Musketier and Simmard finished one-two last out, separated by a half-length, in the 12-furlong W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2) at Calder Race Course on Nov. 25. Jockey John Velazquez will be aboard the venerable Musketier, a roan/gray horse by Acatenango with $985,000 career earnings. He finished third in this race last year and second by a half-length in the 12-furlong Pan American (G3)
.A Kentucky homebred by Dixieland Band, Simmard finished a game second to his stablemate in the W.L. McKnight Handicap after losing another tough decision when second by a neck in the 12-furlong Northern Dancer Stakes (G1) at Woodbine in mid-September. Leading rider Javier Castellano is named to ride Simmard.
Trainer Bill Mott sends out James Karp’s 4-year-old Kentucky homebred Newsdad with jockey Julien Leparoux after they teamed up to post a 6 ¾ lengths allowance victory on Jan. 28 over the course and 11-furlong distance. The son of Arch just missed when third after a big stretch rally in a similar race on Dec. 31 when beaten less than a length for it all.
Taking a big step up for the Mac Diarmida will be Lucky Seven Farm’s 4-year-old Kentucky homebred Minister Colin with jockey Elvis Trujillo aboard for trainer Tom Proctor. The son of Smart Strike has won the last two of three starts at the meet, most recently an optional/allowance at 1 ½ miles on Jan. 21.
“He just got better last fall and this winter,” said Proctor Thursday. “I can’t tell you why. He was kind of dull and didn’t train all that well last summer, but has come around and earned a chance in this one.” Mister Colin’s first two starts at this meet were for a $50,000 claiming tag with no takers and the Mac Diarmida will mark his stakes race debut.
Quantum Racing Team #1’s 7-year-old gelding Mambo Meister has been a South Florida fan favorite for several seasons winning Graded stakes on turf and dirt while earning more than $700,000, but will try to expand his versatility in the Mac Diarmida by trying a distance longer than 1 1/8 miles for the first time in his career. Jockey Manoel Cruz rides the son of King Cugat for trainer Phil Gleaves.
Trainer Graham Motion sends out a pair of contenders in the Mac Diarmida with Team Valor’s 4-year-old Crimson China to be ridden by Jeremy Rose and Riverdee Stable’s 6-year-old gelding Eagle Poise and Rajiv Maragh named to ride.
Crimson China won an allowance race over the course here in mid-February last year in his American debut after breaking his maiden in the fall of 2010 at Wolverhampton in England in his second start. The son of Giant’s Causeway won the Lamplighter Stakes last summer at Monmouth Park and tries this longer distance for the first time Sunday after a third-place effort here in a turf allowance on Jan. 21.
Completing the field are Azul Dorado LLC’s Dixie Emperor, Alex Solis; Amerman Racing Stable’s Center Divider, Jose Lezcano; and G. Watts Humphrey, Jr.’s Middie, Joe Bravo.