Racing fans love veteran racehorses that are able to win stakes deep into their careers. Unfortunately, with every passing year there seems to be less of them. Brass Hat’s retirement earlier this week reminded us of that.
One of those grisly veterans that is still around and seems to be getting better with age will line the starting gate this weekend at Churchill Downs. German-bred 9-year-old Musketier, fresh off his repeat victory in the Elkhorn Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland, heads a field of 10 in the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) on May 28. The 1 1/2-mile turf race is the feature of Churchill’s 11-race program and will go to post at 5:29 p.m. EDT.
Stella Perdomo’s Musketier will carry top weight of 122 pounds and give five to nine pounds to his rivals. The son of Acatenango won the April 29 Elkhorn by 1 1/4 lengths for trainer Roger Attfield for his second straight victory in the event. In his two previous starts in 2011, the gray/roan horse was third in the Mac Diarmida (gr. IIT) and second in the Pan American (gr. IIT)—both at Gulfstream Park.
In 38 lifetime starts, 24 of which came in France, Musketier has won eight times and placed in 11 others. He has won graded stakes races in each of the last three seasons, and was a group III winner in 2004. He has earned $771,430.
Jesus Castanon will have the mount on Musketier, who was bred by Gestut Gorlsdorf. They will break from post 10.
Attfield will also send out 6-year-old Simmard, whom he co-owns with William Werner. The Canadian-based horse won an optional claimer at Woodbine before finishing fourth in the Elkhorn.
Another horse coming out of the Elkhorn is Bearpath, who finished sixth. The Ian Wilkes trainee scored his biggest win in last year’s Pan American.
Musketier’s biggest challenge could come from Barbara Hunter’s 5-year-old mare Keertana, a four-time graded stakes winner entering off a win in the April 28 Bewitch (gr. IIIT) over a yielding Keeneland turf course. The daughter of Johar has won three of four starts this season, including The Very One (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream.
Keertana, trained by Tom Proctor, has three wins and three placings on the Churchill turf course in her career, including a third-place finish in the 2010 Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) in November. Jose Lezcano will keep the mount.
The last filly or mare to contest the Louisville Handicap was Louve des Reves, who finished eighth of 11 in 2007 running.
Also entering off victories are Guys Reward, who scored a nine-furlong optional claimer on May 6 for trainer Dale Romans, and Dark Cove, an optional claiming winner on the Keeneland Polytrack last month.
$100,000 Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 10, 5:29 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Memorial Maniac (KY), J K Court, 116, L W Demeritte
2. Simmard (KY), S Bridgmohan, 116, R L Attfield
3. Guys Reward (KY), M Mena, 115, D L Romans
4. Keertana (KY), J Lezcano, 117, T F Proctor
5. Dark Cove (KY), M R Cruz, 114, K G McPeek
6. El Crespo (KY), C J Lanerie, 113, G R Arnold, II
7. Free Fighter (IL), C H Borel, 113, M L Reavis
8. Formulaforsuccess (KY), C Roman, 113, J P Pucek
9. Bearpath (KY), F Lenclud, 116, I R Wilkes
10. Musketier (GER), J L Castanon, 122, R L Attfield