Following up on his victory in the off-the-turf W.L. McKnight H. (G2) at Calder, Casa Farms' PRINCE WILL I AM (Victory Gallop) got the chance to stay on the turf in Saturday's $150,000 Mac Diarmida S. (G2), and promptly delivered as the slight 3-1 favorite. Rallying from midpack for new rider John Velazquez, the Michelle Nihei trainee outfinished Rahy's Attorney (Crown Attorney) by three-quarters of a length in a final time of 2:13 for 1 3/8 firm-turf miles.
Prince Will I Am was returning to turf for the first time since his last-to-first triumph in the October 9 Jamaica H. (G1). Since then, the chestnut ridgling contested the November 5 Breeders' Cup Marathon (G3), where he crossed the wire in second, but was disqualified and placed 10th after a bumping episode rounding the final turn. Plans called for him to revert to the grass for the McKnight, until heavy rains forced the surface switch. While he splashed to a 2 1/2-length decision in the slop, the turf might turn out to be his true home.
"We began the season with ambitious plans for him to run in the biggest races (on dirt), but we decided to concentrate on distance races on turf," Nihei said. "So we decided to start here. It's great to have a horse with his versatility, and I love the way he's matured."