TORONTO, February 19, 2019 – Welcome to the seventh edition of the weekly Woodbine Snowbirds Report, now in its eighth year, chronicling the winter adventures of Woodbine-based trainers and jockeys currently plying their trade south of the border.
This week, we check in with trainer Roger Attfield, who is currently managing a 40-horse string at Payson Park Training Center in Indiantown, Florida. It’s been somewhat of a quiet winter on the track so far for Attfield, with just 11 starts to date, but things should pick up for the stable in the coming weeks as more horses gear up off of their winter vacations.
“We’re all doing well,” Attfield said. “We’re going to start running a few maidens. The babies are coming along nice. All of the horses are just going to start back.”
One of those horses just starting back for his 2019 campaign is Tiz a Slam, who was named a finalist in two different Sovereign Award categories for his 2018 accomplishments, including Older Male and Older Turf Male. Tiz a Slam made his 2019 debut on Saturday at Fair Grounds, finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap over 1 1/8-miles on turf.
“We wanted to get him started and there wasn’t really anywhere to get him started in Florida,” Attfield said. “We used that race last year, actually. Unfortunately, he got the one-hole that stopped us from running the way we wanted to. He ran well and he came back well. It was a much needed race we needed to get into him.”
Tiz a Slam finished third in last year’s running of the Fair Grounds Handicap, and used that start as a foundation to multiple graded stakes wins later in the year at Woodbine in the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes and the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes. Attfield and owner/breeder Chiefswood Stable will be hoping for another successful campaign this season, and Attfield said Tiz a Slam could make his next start in the Grade 2, $200,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 2, or stay along last year’s path and wait for the Grade 2, $250,000 Pan American Stakes on March 30.
Another Attfield runner, and Sovereign Award finalist, that should begin her 2019 campaign soon is My Gal Betty. My Gal Betty, a finalist in the two-year-old filly division, won the Catch a Glimpse Stakes and finished second in the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes before running ninth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf to close out her 2018 campaign. She’s breezed regularly at Payson Park since mid-January and the Kentucky-bred daughter of Point of Entry could make her three-year-old debut as early as the Grade 3, $150,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 2.
“She’s going well,” Attfield said. “We haven’t mapped out anything in particular. I nominated her to a race in two weeks time at Gulfstream. She’ll be running in the states most of the time anyway I would think.”
Finally, Attfield said the popular nine-year-old, Are You Kidding Me, will likely return to the track for another season. Are You Kidding Me, a two-time Canadian champion, is in training at Payson Park after winning the Grade 2 Eclipse Stakes in 2018.
“He’s going to have one more year anyways,” Attfield said. “He’s a trooper. He’s had a couple of three-eighths works. We were looking at it the other day and he’s run 41 times and had five months off every year in between that. He doesn’t owe us anything for sure.”
Three Woodbine trainers made trips to the winner’s circle last week, led by Mark Casse, who saw one of his horses win a major Kentucky Derby prep race. War of Will was drawn outside in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds, but was a comfortable 2 1/4-length winner. He will now be pointed to the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on March 23. War of Will was one of five winners for Casse last week, who also sent out Queen’s Plate prospect Skywire to a win at Gulfstream Park on February 13. Other Casse winners last week included Beautiful Ballad (February 14) and Weabie (February 16) at Fair Grounds, and Arrival (February 17) at Oaklawn Park. Casse also had two runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes last week, including Flameaway, who was third in the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds on February 16.
— Fair Grounds (@fairgroundsnola) February 17, 2019
Michael Maker also recorded a stakes win last week with Somelikeithotbrown in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park on February 15. Maker recorded a second win at Turfway last week with Artemus Bridge on February 16. In all, Maker recorded two wins, four runner-up finishes and four third-place finishes from 25 starters. Maker also hit the board in the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap with Markitoff on February 16.
SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN was sitting on go for his 1st start of the year and proved it, taking tonight's Battaglia Memorial for his first stakes win. Congrats, @trainerMMaker, jockey Rafael Hernandez & owners Skychai Racing & Sand Dollar Racing. Coady Photos pic.twitter.com/xTYqzcvY2M
— Turfway Park (@TurfwayPark) February 16, 2019
Norm McKnight recorded a pair of winners at Oaklawn Park last week with Monastrell (February 14) and King of the Court (February 16). McKnight also had in-the-money finishes from Touch of Disney (2nd, Febreuary 14) and Keen Gizmo (3rd, February 14).
Five Woodbine jockeys made trips to the winner’s circle last week, led by Rafael Hernandez, who combined with Maker to win the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park with Somelikeithotbrown on February 15. In all, Hernandez recorded nine total starts between Turfway Park and Gulfstream Park last week, and had a second in-the-money finish with Lucky Bode at Turfway on February 15.
Luis Contreras recorded a win at Sunland Park with Curlina Curlina on February 17. Contreras also had an additional six in-the-money finishes from 12 total mounts last week, which included four runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes.
Kirk Johnson recorded a win with Glorious Ride at Mahoning Valley on February 13. Johnson also had a runner-up finish with Signal Ridge on February 16 and a third-place finish from Jay Wow on February 16 from eight total starts last week.
Ademar Santos recorded a win at Tampa Bay Downs on February 15 with Jack B Winkle. He also finished second with Silly Factor in the Minaret Stakes on February 16. In all, Santos recorded a win, two runner-up finishes and a third-place finish from 14 starters last week.
Chantal Sutherland rode Outback Jack to victory at Fair Grounds on February 15. Sutherland also recorded a pair of runner-up finishes from Treys Midnite Moon (February 15) and Sabe Marcelete (February 17), and a third-place finish from Smithwick (February 14) from 16 starters last week.
Gary Boulanger recorded a runner-up finish with Ordinary Love at Tampa Bay Downs on February 16 and also rode G Friday to a third-place finish on February 17.
Jerome Lermyte recorded a runner-up finish in his only mount of the week as Garey Park finished second at Fair Grounds on February 15.
Isabelle Wenc had five mounts at Mahoning Valley last week, with her best finish coming aboard Wemadeittofifty, who finished fifth in the fifth race on February 12.
Here’s a look at how the other Woodbine trainers fared last week, in alphabetical order, starting with Willie Armata, who sent out Tinker ring to a fifth-place finish at Penn National on February 16.
Gilded Warrior finished fourth at Gulfstream Park on February 13 for Sid Attard.
Whole finished sixth at Tampa Bay Downs on February 17 for Julie Belhumeur.
Josie Carroll sent out Whatta Girl to a fifth-place finish at Gulfstream Park on February 17.
Michael De Paulo hit the board with his only starter last week, as Blakey finished second at Gulfstream Park on February 16.
Littleroughjustice finished fifth at Gulfstream Park on February 13 for Nick Gonzalez.
John Mattine sent out Vaughan to a runner-up finish at Gulfstream Park on February 15.
Descente finished eighth at Gulfstream Park on February 15 for Michael McDonald.
Justin Nixon recorded a second-place finish with Street Review at Laurel Park on February 16. Nixon also sent out Field Letters to a fourth-place finish at Laurel on February 15.
Station Rock finished 10th at Gulfstream Park on February 15 for Pat Parente.
John Simms sent out four starters at Tampa Bay Downs last week, including Wall Street Wolf (10th, February 16), La Dolce Uno (7th, February 16), Wolf’s Cry (7th, February 17), and Secret Affirmation (5th, February 17).
Specialcnsydration finished fifth at Gulfstream Park on February 14 for William Tharrenos.