02/17/2011 3:09PM

Musketier leads Attfield trio in Mac Diarmida

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Roger Attfield will try to parlay both quality and quantity into a victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream Park when he sends out three of the 13 starters in the 11-furlong marathon, including the 9-year-old veteran Musketier.

The Attfield trio joins a field that includes three horses who participated in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup: Grade 1 winner Prince Will I Am, the multiple graded stakes winner Al Khali, and Gabriel’s Hill. The Grade 1-placed Citrus Kid, Grade 3 winner Free Fighter, Pool Play, Rahy’s Attorney, Ordination, Stately Victor, and Mint Chip complete the extremely well-matched lineup.

Musketier, Perfect Shower, and Simmard comprise team Attfield, all three turf specialists running as separate betting interests in the Mac Diarmida.

“I’d rather keep the three of them separate, but all are capable of running in a spot like this,” said Attard. “There aren’t many races around for distance horses on the turf, and they all need to get the year started.”

Musketier has won 7 of his 35 career starts and seems to be getting better with age. The German-bred won the Grade 3 Singspiel and finished second in the Grade 1 Man o’ War in 2009. He started just twice at 8 a year ago, winning Keeneland’s 1 1/2-mile Elkhorn, a Grade 2, off a six-month hiatus in April before closing out the abbreviated campaign finishing third, beaten a length by Brass Hat, in the Grade 3 Sycamore in October.

“He’s had a few little issues and didn’t run much at all last year, but he’s been training very well and is coming up to this race nicely,” said Attfield. “I don’t think his age is any issue, horses can run as well at 8 and 9 as at any time in their life. Although he’s won on the lead, I think he’s better coming from off the pace but the pace is always questionable when they run this far. I think he’s sitting on a good race.”

Perfect Shower is winless in his last six starts but is a stakes winner at 12 furlongs on grass.

“He’s doing well but he has to step up a little bit in this spot,” said Attfield.

Simmard is coming off a poor performance in Calder’s Grade 2 W.L. McKnight Handicap run over a sloppy track in his 2010 finale. He turned in his best effort last summer when he was beaten a neck by Al Khali in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap.

“He’s knocked on the door in a few races and is likely to pop up any time and run a good one,” Attfield said of Simmard.
Prince Will I Am closed out his 3-year-old season in top form, winning 3 of his last 4 starts, including the Grade 1 Jamaica and the McKnight. His lone setback during that streak came in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, in which he finished second before ultimately being disqualified and placed 10th.

Al Khali raced wide throughout while finishing last of seven in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in his 2010 finale. Earlier in the season, Al Khali won the Bowling Green and also finished third in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer.