05/26/2012 5:58PM

Churchill Downs: Simmard shows his class in Louisville

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Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs
The 7-year-old Simmard, under Gabriel Saez, captures the Louisville Handicap.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Simmard proved the class of the field when getting a perfect trip under Gabriel Saez in the 75th running of the Grade 3, $115,200 Louisville Handicap on a sultry Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs.

Always in striking distance in the 1 1/2-mile turf race, Simmard wore down Harrods Creek on the final turn and gradually edged clear for a 1 1/4-length triumph over late-closing Joinem. Tahoe Lake, the 2-1 favorite in a field of eight older horses, was another half-length back in third.

Pegged as the 2-1 morning-line favorite as the highest earner in the field, the winner returned a generous $9.40 after finishing in 2:27.16 over a firm course.

“I was always in a good spot, and every time I asked him for a little more, he gave it,” said Saez.

Simmard, a 7-year-old Kentucky-bred horse by Dixieland Band, now has won 7 of 31 career starts, with the winner’s share of $69,282 lifting his career bankroll to $606,673. He is based primarily in Canada with Hall of Fame-elect trainer Roger Attfield, who co-owns him with William Werner. Attfield assistant Suzy Lorimer said she and Simmard were vanning back to Woodbine on Saturday night.

The winning time was a stakes record, although it must be noted the Louisville has been run at the 1 1/2-distance only since 2007.

For Saez, now a Churchill regular, the stakes victory was his second at this track, with the 2008 Kentucky Oaks aboard Proud Spell being his first.

* Earlier Saturday, Ice Cream Silence ($2.60) was an easy five-length winner in the $60,400 Optimistic Gal, an overnight stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The 1 1/16-mile race scratched down to just three starters.