Attfield was not horsing around at Breeders’ Cup
Somewhat quietly, legendary Woodbine trainer Roger Attfield had a remarkable day on Saturday at the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland.
The winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs with his mare Perfect Shirl, Attfield posted a second and third at the world championships of horse racing with his five-year-old bay Shirl’s Speight placing second in the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile, at 56-1, and his four-year-old filly Lady Speightspeare finishing third, at 32-1 odds, in the $2 million Maker’s Mark Filly and Mare Turf Stakes, with Queen’s Plate winner Moira, trained by Kevin Attard, finishing a very respectable fifth in the event. Modern Games, who won the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile on Sept.17, won the Breeders’ Cup Mile ahead of Shirl’s Speight.
Of course, the winners get most of the glory, but Attfield’s day with his two Kentucky-bred, Charles Fipke-owned entries was outstanding.
“I’m very happy because they both ran the way that I know they can,” Attfield told the Toronto Sun en-route from Lexington, KY to Florida on Sunday. “They were ignored really down here as far as the odds were concerned. But I knew they were capable of running well and they both did, exceptionally well.
“I was really pleased about the filly (Lady Speightspeare) because we were in unknown territory going into that race, going that far (1 3/8th miles). She showed that she can run that distance very, very well,” the Hall of Fame conditioner continued. “She’s tough as nails, that filly, and as genuine as the day’s long. It worked out like I hoped it would work out.
“He (Shirl’s Speight) was unlucky actually,” Attfield added. “It was probably a winnable race for him. But how could you not be happy with it? And they’re both very well this morning.”
Attfield, who has won a record eight Queen’s Plates along with Harry Giddings Jr., has 14 wins, eight seconds and eight thirds in 75 starts at Woodbine this year, his horses finishing in the money at a impressive 41% clip.
“I think it’s been fine,” said Attfield, when asked about his season. “I haven’t run that many horses but we’ve kept the percentages up there pretty good and all the horses have been running to their form and that’s all they can ask for.”
Woodbine-based conditioner Nathan Squires had a tremendous day on Friday when his two-year-old filly Cairo Consort finished third in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filles Turf Stakes, at 19-1. Squires told the Sun last week that Cairo Consort is the best horse he has ever trained and he will now probably lose her after only one year as owner Maple Lane Farms LLC plans to put the filly up for sale. Cairo Consort’s Breeders’ Cup showing as well as her second-place finish in the Grade 1 Johnnie Walker Stakes on Sept.17 and a victory in the Catch A Glimpse Stakes on Aug.20 has almost certainly raised Squire’s stock as a trainer, which is always nice for a smaller operation.
Woodbine’s winningest trainer Mark Casse recorded his sixth Breeders’ Cup score on Friday when his two-year-old filly Wonder Wheel captured the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes.
Trainer Kevin Attard won the 118th Running of the $254,000 Coronation Futurity for two-year-olds foaled in Canada over 1 1/8th miles on Sunday at Woodbine with his 21-1 long-shot Velocitor, with Justin Stein in the saddle. The race favorite, another Attard-conditioned colt, Philip My Dear, was third. Placing second was the Stuart Simon-trained Twin City, who had a tough trip. Stein guided Velocitor, owned and bred by Al and Bill Ulwelling, from post position 11 to the rail at the first turn and never gave up the lead, a very smart trip as the speed all day was on the inside.
Velocitor has recorded three wins with a second-place finish in his five lifetime starts.
One would think that the richest race for two-year-olds at Woodbine would produce a number of Queen’s Plate winners the next year. But the joke around the track is that the Coronation Futurity should be renamed the Coronation Futility as the event hasn’t produced a Queen’s Plate winner since Norcliffe in 1975.
As for Stein, the veteran rider was 1-for-52 in stakes races this year before winning two on the weekend, the Coronation Futurity and the Display Stakes on Saturday with Hal, a son of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Accelerate trained by Darwin Banach.
WHO’S THE STAR IS THE STAR
Jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson guided the Casse-trained gelding Who’s The Star to victory in the second showcase race of the day on Sunday – the $175,000 Grade 2 Autumn Stakes for three-year-olds, over 1 1/16th miles with a beautifully-timed charge in the stretch to pass War Bomber. Wilson is 3-for-3 on Who’s the Star this season. It was the fifth win in 10 starts this season for the four-year-old Who’s the Star, who is owned by M Racing Group.
“He’s huge. He’s not a small horse, he gets away from the gate a little sloppy. So he takes a bit to get his legs underneath and as I start picking him up, it’s more about getting him into a nice rhythm, getting him up underneath me and travelling strong,” said Wilson. “Some horses can quicken really fast within two jumps. He takes a little longer to get going, but, holy, when he does, that kick is vicious.”
AROUND THE TRACK
Apprentice Sofia Vives won her first race on her third mount in the seventh race at Woodbine on Thursday aboard 2-1 shot Bodacious Miss for trainer Steve Owens … Saturday’s card was the last day of the season that there was a race on turf at Woodbine.
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