Mullins Pulling Strings in W.L. McKnight

French group III winner Puppeteer invades Calder Race Course for his new trainer, California-based Jeff Mullins, in the $200,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT), a 1 1/2-mile turf event on Saturday.

Michael House owns the 4-year-old English-bred son of Singspiel. The colt hasn't started since an even fifth-place finish in the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland Oct. 9.

To be ridden in the McKnight by Jose Valdivia Jr., Puppeteer was formerly with French trainer Alain Royer-Dupre. He'll start from the outside in a field of 11 entered for the turf while carrying 115 pounds, one less than the co-high weights, Trillium Stable's Dreadnaught and Dr. Brendler, trained by H. Graham Motion.

Dreadnaught began the year as a steeplechaser for trainer Tom Voss, but has flourished late in the year on the flat, winning his graded stakes debut, the Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT), by a nose at Aqueduct Nov. 20 in his last start. The 4-year-old Lac Ouimet gelding finished second in a pair of maiden hurdle events this spring.

The horse he nipped at the wire in the Red Smith following the all-out stretch duel, Ken Avanzino's New York-bred gelding Certifiably Crazy, renews the rivalry in the McKnight for trainer John De Stefano Jr.

Dr. Brendler finished sixth in the Red Smith after returning to action earlier this year following a 14-month layoff due to a torn suspensory ligament. In 2003, the Maryland-bred 6-year-old horse won the Dixie (gr. IIT) at Pimlico and was third in the Manhattan (gr. IT) at Belmont Park.

In his last start, George and Sandra Melillo's Irish-bred Macaw defeated Dreadnaught by a neck in the John Henry Stakes on Oct. 29 at the Meadowlands. His first North American victory ended a 16-race losing streak that began more than two years ago.

Florida-bred 7-year-old Rays a Ruler was entered for the main track only.

$200,000 W. L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT, 4:52 p.m. ET), 3 & up, 1 1/2 miles (turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Colonial Bay (KY), 112, Ramon A. Dominguez
2. Certifiably Crazy (NY), 114, Cornelio H. Velasquez
3. Scooter Roach (IL), 115, Joe Bravo
4. Dreadnaught (KY), 116, Jean-Luc Samyn
5. Macaw (IRE), 115, Eddie Castro
6. Dr. Brendler (MD), 116, Jose A. Santos
7. In Hand (KY), 112, Gary Boulanger
8. Demeteor (KY), 112, Jorge F. Chavez
9. Irish Colonial (NY), 114, Jerry D. Bailey
10. Latino (PER), 110, Eibar Coa
11. Puppeteer (GB), 115, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
Main track only
12. Rays a Ruler (FL), 112, Manoel R. Cruz

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