10/16/2012 1:59PM

Keeneland: Musketier aims to give Attfield his first Sycamore win

Michael Burns
Musketier wins the Grade 3 Singspiel in June at Woodbine.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – If it’s a three-turn turf stakes at Keeneland, then Roger Attfield must be lurking somewhere close. The 72-year-old trainer has won 15 stakes here during his Hall of Fame career, and seven of them have come in turf marathons.

Curiously, none of those seven have been in the Sycamore Stakes, on which Attfield has taken designs Thursday. He will send out 10-year-old Musketier, a gray German-bred with a proven fondness for the Keeneland turf, in the Grade 3, $100,000 Sycamore, the featured eighth of nine races.

Musketier is a two-time winner of the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland, having won those at the 2010 and 2011 spring meets. Attfield also won two earlier runnings of the Elkhorn and three runnings of the Bewitch while remaining winless in their fall counterparts, the Sycamore and Dowager, the latter of which will be renewed here Sunday.

Musketier, a confirmed stretch-running type with John Velazquez to ride, will break from post 6 in a field of seven older horses in the Sycamore when trying for his second graded stakes score of the year. He won the Grade 3 Singspiel in June over the turf at his home course of Woodbine.

The top challengers for Musketier figure to be Ioya Bigtime, Rahystrada, and Kindergarden Kid, the top three finishers in the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup last month at Kentucky Downs.

[KEENELAND: Get PPs, watch Thursday's full card live]

Ioya Bigtime led throughout on a controlled pace in making the Turf Cup his second stakes victory in his last three tries. Trainer Chris Block, a Chicago mainstay whose stable has been a force in recent years in the Kentucky stakes ranks, said he is hopeful that Jeffrey Sanchez can ride another terrific race aboard the 5-year-old Team Block homebred.

“He’s a hard horse to ride,” Block said. “A lot will depend on how he comes out of there and how he relaxes the first eighth of a mile. He usually jumps out there if nobody wants it, but we’re not going to rattle his cage. Jeffrey seems to handle him very well, and we’ve found that the mile and a half is his best go. He doesn’t have a big turn of foot. He just grinds it.”

Rahystrada, with Corey Lanerie to ride, will be looking to add to his four graded stakes wins and more than $1.2 million in earnings. Kindergarden Kid will have Julien Leparoux aboard when making his third start in a five-week period since being claimed by Mike Maker for Ken and Sarah Ramsey.

Rounding out the Sycamore field are Seton Hall, Canaveral, and Miami Deco. Of those, maybe Miami Deco rates the best upset chance following his 14-1 upset in a turf allowance here opening day for Brian Lynch.

One allowance (race 6) also is on the Thursday card, and it’s also scheduled for 1 1/2 miles on the grass. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern, with the Sycamore set for 4:49. TVG will provide its usual daylong coverage.