Nine-year-old veteran Musketier sat a perfect trip under Luis Saez and held off a late run from a pair of rivals to notch the sixth group/graded stakes score of his career in the $150,000 W. L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) Nov. 26 at Calder Casino & Race Course.
The German-bred son of Acatenango won by a half-length over stablemate Simmard, as trainer Roger Attfield ran one-two in the 1 1/2-mile turf event. It was his third victory of the year, having taken the Elkhorn (gr. IIT) at Keeneland in April and Singspiel (Can-IIIT) at Woodbine in June. Overall, it was his 10th win from 44 lifetime starts and earnings of $985,043.
Musketier is owned by Stella Perdomo. He was bred by Gestut Gorlsdorf and is out of the Linamix mare Myth and Reality.
Saez gave Musketier an ideal ride, placing him just in back of the pacesetter Gondorf, and Scottish Coast, who was pressing the leader through splits of :24.81, :49.89, 1:14.44, and 1:39.52. Trust the Deputy was also in that first group early on, while Simmard and Winchester joined the fray on the final turn.
Saving ground all the way, Musketier passed the tiring leaders coming off the turn and held a one-length lead at the eighth-pole. Simmard posed a real threat as they continued into the stretch, as did Winchester further on the outside. Though tiring a bit, Musketier found just enough to hold on for the victory.
The final time on the firm turf course was 2:28.25. Simmard was three-quarters of a length better than favored Winchester for second. Center Divider was fourth in a field of nine.
A group III winner in France back in 2004, Musketier has been racing in North America since 2009. He finished sixth in the Pattison Canadian International (Can-IT) in his most recent effort. This was his first race at Calder.
"He’s just been a lovely horse to have," Attfield said. "I’ve had some perform at this level up to maybe eight years old, but not at this age. I’ve talked it over with the owners and they’ve said, ‘If he’s happy with what he’s doing, go on and race him next year at 10.’"
The winner paid $11.60, $5.20, and $2.60. Simmard paid $6.60 and $3.80, while Winchester $2.40. The exacta (6-9) returned $49.60 and the trifecta (6-9-5) was worth $107.40.