Canadian-based Simmard took
the lead at the head of the stretch and turned back a late charge by Joinem
to win the 75th running of the Grade III, $115,200 Louisville Handicap by 1
¼ lengths on Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs.
Simmard’s final time of 2:27.16 for
the 1 ½ miles over a firm Matt Winn Turf Course was a stakes record, which
eclipsed Drilling for Oil’s mark of 2:28.35 in 2007 – the first year the
storied race was carded over the distance and surface.
Simmard, the 120-pound starting high
weight in the field of eight older horses, was forwardly placed in the early
stages of the turf marathon and relaxed just behind pacesetter Depeche Chat,
who was followed by Harrods Creek. After fractions of :25.16, :50.05,
1:14.74 and 1:38.91, jockey Gabriel Saez asked Simmard to draw
even with Harrods Creek with three furlongs to run. From the outside, Simmard
grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch and cut clear of that rival in the
final 200 yards. Joinem, ridden by Calvin Borel, wheeled out six-wide
entering the stretch and rallied from last to get second but could not catch
the winner. Brazilian-bred Tahoe Lake, the 2-1 favorite under Manny
Cruz, finished third, a half-length behind the runner-up.
Simmard paid $9.40, $4.40 and $2.60
as the 7-2 second betting choice. Joinem returned $5 and $2.60. Tahoe Lake paid
$2.40. Harrods Creek, Cease, Rescue Squad, Depeche Chat and Derby
Kitten completed the order of finish.
The Louisville Handicap was
Simmard’s second graded stakes triumph of the year. In February, he defeated Newsdad
by a nose to prevail in the Grade II, $150,000 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream
Park. Overall, it was his seventh victory in 31 career starts.
Saez rode the winner for
accomplished trainer Roger Attfield, who co-owns the 7-year-old gelding
with longtime client Bill Werner of Rapid City, Ill. Attfield, who’ll be
enshrined in the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame on Aug. 10, notched
his third Churchill Downs stakes win and first since Perfect Shirl upset
last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Saez, in the midst of his first full
season riding in Kentucky, scored his second local stakes win beneath the Twin
Spires. His first came aboard Proud Spell in the 2008 Kentucky Oaks.
“We broke a little slowly, but I had
him placed forwardly,” Saez said. “After we went a mile we started to pick it
up a little bit. Every time I asked him he responded and at the end we were
ahead by a length. I got a perfect trip. It couldn’t have gone any better than
Simmard was bred in Kentucky by Haras
Santa Maria de Araras S.A. and is a son of Dixieland Band out of the Spectacular
Bid mare Dibs. The Louisville Handicap first-place check of $69,282 boosted
his career earnings to $606,673.
“(Simmard) has really clicked this
year and Gabriel rode him perfectly,” said Suzy Lorimer, the Attfield assistant
who traveled with the horse on a van ride from Toronto on Thursday morning. “It
was great. He’ll ship back home (to Woodbine) tonight.”
Racing at Churchill Downs continues
Sunday with a 10-race program that begins at 12:45 p.m. ET. There’s a three-day
Pick 6 carryover of $14,334 on Races 5-10 and a two-day Super Hi-5 carryover of
$23,658 for the final race.
Gabriel Saez, jockey of Simmard, winner:“We broke a little slowly, but I had him placed
forwardly. After we went a mile we started to pick it up a little bit. Every
time I asked him he responded and at the end we were ahead by a length. I got a
perfect trip. It couldn’t have gone any better than that.”
Suzy Lorimer, assistant to Roger
Attfield, trainer of Simmard, winner:
“(Simmard) has really clicked this year and Gabriel rode him perfectly. It was
great. He’ll ship back home (to Woodbine) tonight.”
Calvin Borel, jockey on Joinem,
second: “He came running. I gave him a
little bit too much to do. It was the first time I rode him and he kind of
switched leads back-and-forth a little bit, but apparently he does that all the
time. I learned something new about him. But I like him. He’s a nice horse and
I hope I get the opportunity to ride him back again. I’ll know him a little bit
Manny Cruz, jockey of 2-1 favorite
Tahoe Lake-BRZ, third: “I had to wait a couple of steps
because (Depeche Chat) stopped. Then I put him behind (Harrods Creek) and
followed him, and we went from there. He closed, but he just didn’t give me the
kick he usually does. The fractions at the beginning of the race were no help