Roger Attfield and William Werner’s Simmard, winner of the Mac Diarmida (Grade II) by a nose over Newsdad at Gulfstream Park in February, will carry top weight of 120 pounds when he faces seven rivals in Saturday’s 75th running of the $100,000-added Louisville Handicap (GIII) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ½ miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course at Churchill Downs.
The Louisville was won last year in dramatic fashion by Barbara Hunter’s homebred mare Keertana, who came out on top of a three-horse photo over Bearpath and Guys Reward. It was the first time a filly or mare had won the Louisville since Our Request in 1951.
The Mac Diarmida is the biggest of six career wins from 30 starts for Simmard, who has $537,391 in lifetime earnings. The 7-year-old chestnut son of Dixieland Band finished third in his other two starts in 2012, the Pan American (GII) in March and most recently the Elkorn (GII) at Keeneland in April. Both races were contested at the Louisville distance of 1 ½ miles. The Roger Attfield-trained Simmard will break from seven under Gabriel Saez.
The next high weight in the Louisville is Alastar Thoroughbred Company LLC’s Tahoe Lake-BRZ, who will enter the Louisville off a runner-up effort to Point of Entry in the Elkhorn. Weighted at 118 pounds, Tahoe Lake will be making his fourth start on the Matt Winn Turf Course on Saturday. He has a record of 1-1-1 from his three previous starts on the grass beneath the Twin Spires. Ken McPeek, a two-time winner of the Louisville, trains the 6-year-old gelded son of Know Heights-IRE. Tahoe Lake will break from post two under Manny Cruz.
The field for the Louisville, from the rail out, is as follows: Cease (ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., 116 pounds), Tahoe Lake-BRZ (Cruz, 118), Rescue Squad (Victor Lebron, 116), Harrods Creek (Miguel Mena, 117), Joinem (Calvin Borel, 116), Depeche Chat (Marcelino Pedroza Jr., 113), Simmard (Saez, 120) and Derby Kitten (Jon Court, 115).
The Louisville will go as Race 10 on Saturday’s 11-race program with a post time of 5:25 p.m. (all times Eastern). Post time for the first race Saturday is 12:45 p.m.
The undercard of the Louisville will feature the $68,000 Optimistic Gal, an overnight stake for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the main track at Churchill Downs.
The field of five is led by Mike Walker and Lou Sutterfield’s Amie’s Dini, who most recently finished eighth of 14 in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI). Prior to the Oaks, Amie’s Dini finished second in both the Honeybee (GIII) and Fantasy (GII) at Oaklawn Park for trainer Ron Moquett. The dark bay or brown daughter of Bandini will break from post three under Jon Court.
The field for the Optimistic Gal, from the rail out, is as follows: Scat Baby (Calvin Borel, 118), Funny Proposition (Miguel Mena, 118), Amie’s Dini (Court, 120), Livi Makenzie (Greta Kuntzweiler, 118) and Ice Cream Silence (Brian Hernandez Jr., 118).
The Optimistic Gal will go as Race 3 with a scheduled post time of 1:47 p.m.