07/12/2012 3:19PM

Arlington: Will short rest sap Musketier's strength in Stars and Stripes?

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Michael Burns
The 10-year-old Musketier will try to come back in the Stars and Stripes just three weeks after winning the Singspiel at Woodbine.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Old-timers have won previous editions of the Stars and Stripes Stakes. Cetewayo was 8 when he captured the 2002 running, the same age as Silverfoot when he won in 2008. Musketier is taking things to another level. The 10-year-old exits an exciting win over his stablemate, Simmard, in the Singspiel Stakes at Woodbine, a performance that has made him the 3-1 morning-line favorite for the Grade 3, $150,000 Stars and Stripes at Arlington.

Musketier, a German-bred by Acatenango, has won 11 of his 47 starts, and he is 1 for 3 at age 10 after winning three races – all graded stakes – as a 9-year-old.

“Basically, he’s stuck around because I’ve always looked after him very well,” said trainer Roger Attfield. “He’s had some idiosyncrasies, some ailments, but we keep him happy, and when he’s happy he seems to come up and run well for me. I was really proud of his last race. He’s a lovely old horse, easy to get along with. You wouldn’t know he’s a stallion. Give him some time out of his stall and he’s happy.”

Musketier has won 6 of 16 tries at the Stars and Stripe’s 1 1/2-mile distance, but while trip is no issue, a three-week break between starts might be. Attfield said Musketier “has done so well since his last race,” but the horse has not run back on rest this brief in three years.

And while it’s easy to root for an admirable animal like Musketier, bettors will find plenty of alternatives in the Stars and Stripes. Harrods Creek and Workin for Hops figure to make the pace, but should either shake loose he could be dangerous. Eagle Poise, in from Maryland for trainer Graham Motion, came within a nose of Bourbon Bay in the San Juan Capistrano, but might actually need even more ground than this for his best performance.

Free Fighter has won the Stars and Stripes two of the last three years, but still will be a big price Saturday. Racing for trainer Chris Block, Free Fighter won the 2009 Stars and Stripes on turf, and took last year’s race for trainer Mike Reavis when it was rained onto Polytrack.

Joinem, making his first start beyond 1 1/8 miles, finished a fast-closing second behind Simmard in the Louisville Handicap, where Joinem raced a distant last behind a slow pace before launching his rally.

“If you let him stay a little bit closer, he will,” said trainer David Carroll. “You’d like to be in a position not to have to make too much ground up because it takes a little while to get him going.”

Upperline preps for Beverly D.

Upperline can win the Grade 3, $200,000 Modesty Handicap, but her connections are keeping an eye on the Beverly D. on Aug. 18, a spot where Upperline might have a chance to earn her first Grade 1 placing.

“As long as she runs her race here, we’ll run in the Beverly D., and I’m not looking for her to run her all-time best this weekend,” said trainer Mike Stidham. “I’m looking for another good race to get to the Beverly D, since any part of a Grade 1 would be huge for her.”

Upperline is one of eight fillies and mares entered to run 1 3/16 miles in the Modesty, where four-time Arlington turf winner Romacaca should set the pace. Romacaca might well slip loose on the lead, but she has not been at her very best since last summer, and has historically been best at distances up to 1 1/8 miles.

Smart Sting might stick closer to the leader than she has in recent starts, thanks to the addition of blinkers. Attfield began fitting the 4-year-old filly with blinkers in morning workouts last month and has seen a change for the better.

“She’s been concentrating a lot more,” said Attfield, who believes Smart Sting can improve with age.

Bizzy Caroline and Snow Top Mountain both exit narrow wins in Grade 3 turf stakes, Bizzy Caroline’s in the Mint Julep at Churchill, Snow Top Mountain’s in the All Along at Colonial. She’s All In, meanwhile, will have a great chance if the excellent dirt form she showed winning the Sixty Sails this spring at Hawthorne transfers to turf.

“We know we want the distance, and she’s had no problem at all working on the grass,” said trainer Donnie Von Hemel.