Gulfstream Park's first graded long-distance turf race of the season, Saturday's $150,000 Mac Diarmida S. (G2) over 1 3/8 miles, attracted a field of 13 when entries were drawn at mid-week. Potential favorite AL KHALI (Medaglia d'Oro), winner of the Bowling Green H. (G2) and a close fourth in the Canadian International (Can-G1) last fall, drew post 12 for his seasonal debut.
Trained by Bill Mott, Al Khali was last seen trailing a field of seven in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs. Despite entering the 1 1/2-mile event in reasonable form and sent away at 4-1, the ridgling never responded over a course deemed by most observers as being much softer than the official designation of firm. Thus, Al Kahli's performance was not inconsistent with some of his past efforts over courses labeled yielding or soft.
Among his dozen rivals are the four-year-old PRINCE WILL I AM (Victory Gallop), who came on late last season to win the Jamaica H. (G1) over three-year-olds on grass and the W.L. McKnight H. (G2), a 1 1/2-mile contest moved from turf to dirt due to rain. Squeezed between those two trips to the winner's circle was a controversial run in the Breeders' Cup Marathon (G3), where Prince Will I Am caused a chain reaction en route to a second-place finish. In addition to being disqualified to 10th, Prince Will I Am's rider Javier Castellano was involved in a post-race altercation with jockey Calvin Borel due to the in-race bumping.