Leading Gulfstream jockey Javier Castellano was aboard Simmard, taking a stalking position close-up in third in the field of 10 older horses as 25 to-1 longshot Mambo Meister set a moderate pace through three-quarters in 1:13 3/5. Simmard took command into the final turn and was joined by Newsdad for the long duel to the finish as they hit the wire in 2:11:71 over the ‘firm’ course.
Veteran horseman Roger Attfield sent out Simmard as the less fancied of two veteran long-distance turf stakes runners along with Stella Perdomo’s remarkable 10-year-old German-bred Musketier as the 7-to-2 second choice.
“He doesn’t have the big turn of foot that the gray horse (Musketier) does, so I was happy to see that he was involved early” said Attfield. “I think he’s been getting too far out of it early. The horse has been doing great.
“He’s a horse that’s developed really late in his career. He’s gotten better and better. He’s been knocking on the door in so many races I knew he’d have to win a stakes eventually. It was a great effort.
“Looking at the race, Musketier wasn’t involved at all early. It didn’t look like he was in the bridle on the backside, but I knew he’d eventually pick it up. It was just too late, but he did come with a good run. I’ll run one of them in the Pan American (G3), Mar. 24, and go to Keeneland with the other one. I’ll try to keep them apart.”
The two last raced in the 12-furlong W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2) at Calder on Nov. 26 with Musketier the winner by a half-length over Simmard. Musketier checked in third in the Mac Diarmida, 5 ¾ lengths behind the top two. A chestnut son of Dixieland Band, Simmard paid $10.60 for $2 to win as he posted his sixth victory in 28 career starts, pushing his earnings past the $500,000 mark.