LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky is regarded as a border state, but not in regards to Canada. Yet when the Keeneland spring meet ends Friday with the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes, it just might be all Canada all over the board.
Seven of the 11 older turf horses in the Elkhorn will be headed home to Woodbine in the Toronto suburbs in the coming days, and it would be of little surprise if a big chunk of the $150,000 purse went north, too -- again. Roger Attfield, the Canadian training icon, has been lethal in this 1 1/2-mile turf race in recent years, having won it with Pellegrino (2006), Spice Route (2009), and Musketier (2010).
Attfield not only returns in this 26th running of the Elkhorn with Musketier, who will start from the far outside post with John Velazquez aboard, but also with Simmard, a sharp last-out winner in a Gulfstream Park turf marathon. That uncoupled duo is part of an extraordinarily strong roster of Canadians, one filled out by Pool Play, Windward Islands, Giant's Tomb, Rahy's Attorney, and Miami Deco.
Of those, Rahy's Attorney is the most accomplished. Trained by Ian Black for a multi-way partnership, the 7-year-old gelding has amassed nearly $2 million in earnings from 37 starts and shows no signs of slowing down. Rahy's Attorney captured the Grade 3 Pan American on March 26 in his latest start at Gulfstream when ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson, who will make a rare Keeneland appearance when taking a return call Friday.
Musketier was second in the Pan Am, and given the way he has performed over the Keeneland grass, he must be regarded as the one to beat. The 9-year-old gray horse was runner-up to his stablemate in the 2009 Elkhorn and also was a close third as the favorite in the 2010 Sycamore.
Windward Islands and Giant's Tomb both will carry the red and gold silks of Canadian powerhouse Sam-Son Farms while uncoupled for wagering purposes.
The American contingent in the Elkhorn is comprised of Rezif, Bearpath, Mint Chip, and Telling.
TVG and Keeneland guarantee a $200,000 pool for the 50-cent late pick four (races 7-10) every Friday here.
Finally, a break in the weather is in the forecast, with sunny skies and a high of 65 being the call for Friday.
The Elkhorn is carded as the ninth race. The last program of the meet also includes two allowances, a maiden dash full of promising 2-year-old fillies, and wraps up with a maiden event at the rarely run distance of 1 3/16 miles on turf.