A six-time group/graded stakes winner and a veteran of 44 career starts, 10-year-old Musketier returns for yet another season when he opens up his 2012 campaign in the $150,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes (gr. IIT) Feb. 26 at Gulfstream Park.
The German-bred son of Acatenango will face nine others in the 1 3/8-mile turf contest, which will go to post just prior to the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (gr. II) on Sunday. Post time is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. EST.
Musketier, who will share top weight of 123 pounds with South American invader Dixie Emperor, finished third in last year’s Mac Diarmida when beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Prince Will I Am. It was also the season debut for the gray/roan horse, the first of nine starts in a 2011 campaign that produced three graded stakes wins. The last of those victories came in the Nov. 26 W. L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder, which ended his year in fine fashion.
Owned by Stella Perdomo and trained by Roger Attfield, Musketier will be ridden by John Velazquez. They will break from post 2. A top three finish will put Musketier over the $1 million mark in career earnings.
Attfield will also send out 7-year-old Simmard, who finished second to Musketier in the McKnight. The son of Dixieland Band was seventh in last year’s Mac Diarmida but won an optional claimer on turf later in the meet. Attfield has assigned top rider Javier Castellano to ride Simmard.
Trainer Graham Motion will also send out a pair of contenders in Eagle Poise and Crimson China. Riverdee Stable’s Eagle Poise ended 2011 with a pair of narrow victories on the Woodbine Polytrack, the latter coming in the Valedictory Stakes (Can-III) at 1 3/4 miles. The 5-year-old gelding has made 20 lifetime starts, the majority of which have come on synthetic surfaces. Rajiv Maragh will have the mount.
Team Valor International’s 4-year-old Crimson China won the Lamplighter Stakes at Monmouth Park last year before three unplaced finished in graded company. He was third in a Jan. 21 optional claimer to begin his career as an older horse. Jeremy Rose will be in the irons for Motion.
Newsdad, a runaway winner in a 1 7/16-mile optional claimer Jan. 28 at Gulfstream; Calder-based veteran Mambo Meister; and Dixie Emperor, making his United States debut, are also part of the field.
$150,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 10, 4:45 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Eagle Poise (KY), R Maragh, 121, H G Motion
2. Musketier (GER), J R Velazquez, 123, R L Attfield
3. Newsdad (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, W I Mott
4. Minister Colin (KY), E Trujillo, 117, T F Proctor
5. Simmard (KY), J Castellano, 117, R L Attfield
6. Mambo Meister (KY), M R Cruz, 117, P A Gleaves
7. Dixie Emperor (KY), A O Solis, 123, M D Wolfson
8. Center Divider (KY), J Lezcano, 117, C C Brown
9. Middie (KY), J Bravo, 117, P J Oliver
10. Crimson China (KY), J Rose, 117, H G Motion