TORONTO, June 6 – Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield will saddle the Queen’s Plate Winterbook favourite Tiz a Slam in Sunday’s $125,000 Plate Trial and has a pair of talented fillies to boot in Ghostly Presence and Miss Adele for the headliner $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser.
Tiz a Slam, a Chiefswood Stable homebred son of Tiznow, won three of four juvenile starts including a season-closing score in the grassy Cup and Saucer Stakes. He has raced twice this season finishing fifth in the Columbia Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and a game second in the Wando Stakes, at Woodbine, won by Plate Trial rival King and His Court.
The talented bay could give Attfield a record ninth Queen’s Plate win should he take the Canadian Classic slated for Sunday, July 2. Tiz a Slam breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 on Tuesday morning in his final prep for the Plate Trial.
"It was a nice work, I’m very happy with it. We just had another horse sit with him and then let him open up a little bit. We didn’t want to put a hard work into him. It was perfect," said Attfield. "We’re on target for the Trial, and hopefully we move on to the Plate."
The Plate Trial, which has a probable field of six, is a test of stamina at 1 1/8-miles over the Tapeta, often a harbinger of whether or not the classic Plate distance is within reach.
"I think a mile and an eighth will be, whether a mile and a quarter is I don’t know. There’s a bit of a question mark in my mind, but that’s what the Trial is all about," said Attfield. "I actually wanted to run him a bit this winter, but he went through a bit of a growing stage and he was a big colt in the first place. So, I didn’t get that achieved. But, right now we’re on target for the Trial."
Attfield has won the Plate Trial seven times and four went on to win the Queen’s Plate including With Approval (1989), Izvestia (1990), Alydeed (1992) and Not Bourbon (2008).
"I’m quite happy using the Trial into the Plate. It’s worked for me a number of times," said Attfield.
Tiz a Slam has trained very professionally into Sunday’s test and Attfield expects that leading rider Eurico Rosa da Silva will have plenty of options in where to sit in a compact field that often leads to a jockey’s race.
"He’s quite a laid back type of horse in his training. He’s not a rank horse and relatively easy to train," said Attfield. "Going a mile and an eighth he might be a bit closer to the pace than he has been in some of his other races. But, I leave that up to Eurico and him."
In the Woodbine Oaks, the 1 1/8-mile filly classic and first leg of the Triple Tiara, Attfield’s best chance likely comes with Ghostly Presence. The Chiefswood Stable homebred daughter of Ghostzapper won two of four juvenile starts and was a stubborn winner of the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth to close out her campaign when a 1/2-length the better of Oaks rival Enstone.
She has raced twice in 2017 finishing fourth in the Fury Stakes and a disappointing ninth last time out in the Grade 3 Selene. That latter event, a 1 1/16-mile Tapeta route, was won by the Irish-bred Grizzel over familiar foe Enstone.
"She’s doing better now than she was that day," said Attfield of the Selene effort. "She’s coming around the right direction this last bit and she’s already won going a mile and a sixteenth in the Princess Elizabeth. I think this distance is more her style. She’s won around two turns and has been training better."
Ghostly Presence was scary good in the Princess Elizabeth…
Miss Adele, a lightly raced daughter of Speightstown owned by Windhaven Farms Inc., finished last of 12 in her career debut at Keeneland on April 7. She shipped up to Woodbine and on May 12 graduated in front-running fashion in a seven furlong maiden allowance.
The well-bred Miss Adele is a half-sister to 2009 Champion Two Year Old colt Hollinger. However, Attfield is cautiously optimistic about Miss Adele stretching out to nine furlongs in just her third career start.
Can she do it?
"We hope so," smiled Attfield. "That’s how we did it when we won the Oaks with Capdiva (1997). She only went the one race around two turns and she won it wire to wire.
"It’s a tall order for Miss Adele off of two races," continued Attfield. "At this point, I wouldn’t hazard a guess at what her best distance is going to be so it will be interesting."
Attfield is enjoying an excellent Woodbine meet where he has won with 10 of 31 starters and sits second in the trainer tables in purse earnings with $490,437. The barn enjoyed a thrilling score on Saturday when Tower of Texas arrived in the nick of time to nose out a victory in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup.
"He’s got it all here," said Attfield, tapping a closed fist against his heart. "His mother (Rare Opportunity) was the same way. When I trained her she was never really that sound and we weren’t sure she’d ever get to the races. But she ran her heart out and he inherited that for sure."
The affable Attfield admitted he ran through the gamut of emotions during the seven furlong turf tilt.
"I’ll tell you what, he had to check a little bit and then he was coming again at the wire but I thought he got beat," said Attfield. “I thought, he doesn’t deserve this. It happened to him a couple times last year having to check a couple times and then I watched the replay and said, ‘We better get down there, we’ve won!’"
On Sunday, Attfield will be seeking his fourth Oaks win having previously scored with Playlist (1986), Plenty of Sugar (1994) and the aforementioned Capdiva. He won’t mind sweating through another photo finish if it means adding another Canadian Classic to his expansive collection.
PROBABLE FIELD FOR THE WOODBINE OAKS (11):
Horse / Jockey / Trainer
Cindervella / Jesse Campbell / Mike DePaulo
Ellan Vannin / Jeffrey Alderson / Tony Gattellaro
Enstone / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse
Financial Recovery / Mike Smith / Catherine Day Phillips
Gertie T / Rafael Hernandez / Norm McKnight
Ghostly Presence / Steve Bahen / Roger Attfield
Holy Helena / Luis Contreras / James Jerkens
Inflexibility / Joel Rosario / Chad Brown
Miss Adele / TBA / Roger Attfield
Mythical Mission / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Malcolm Pierce
Stallion Heiress / Florent Geroux / Michael Stidham
PROBABLE FIELD FOR THE PLATE TRIAL (7):
Avie’s Mesa / Luis Contreras / Josie Carroll
Cool Catomine / TBA / John Ross
Expedition / Florent Geroux / Mark Casse
Guy Caballero / Rafael Hernandez / Catherine Day Phillips
King and His Court / Gary Boulanger / Mark Casse
State of Honor / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse
Tiz a Slam / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Roger Attfield