TORONTO, January 16, 2018 – Welcome to the fifth edition of the weekly Woodbine Snowbirds Report, now in its seventh 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 Kevin Attard, who returned to the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle on January 11 with Bee Quiet. Attard’s other starter of the week, Leopard Cat, finished sixth at Gulfstream on January 13.
Attard’s win with Bee Quiet came just five days after Piven’s win in the Limehouse Stakes, the highlight of Attard’s meet so far. Attard said Piven had been training well going into the Limehouse, and he had no concerns with the switch to dirt.
“It was nice to see him win like that,” he said. “We do the majority of our training at Woodbine on the dirt ourselves. He’s always worked well enough on it. He’s just matured a lot lately. When he got to Gulfstream, he just started working really well. His times were a lot quicker than he normally works. He ran to the way he worked.”
Piven earned an 85 Beyer Speed Figure in his four-length victory in the Limehouse, and Attard said it was possible Piven would run back in the Grade 2, $200,000 Swale Stakes over seven furlongs at Gulfstream on February 3.
“We’re going to nominate him for the Swale,” he said. “We’ll see how he’s training and if all things are going well, we might consider that as a next possibility.”
Moving forward, Attard said it was possible Piven could continue to stretch out. While Piven has done well sprinting so far in his career, his lone start going long was a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine on October 1. Attard said Gulfstream’s one-turn mile configuration could be the best way to stretch Piven out during the winter.
“His pedigree suggests that he should (go long),” he said. “He only ran the one time long. It was his first time, and I’m not sure if he was confused by it all. The plan right now is to take things step by step. Gulfstream runs all one-turn miles as well. We can kind of stretch him out that way and if a two-turn race presents itself and he’s up to the task, then we’ll consider that.”
Attard said he has 12 horses down at Gulfstream Park with him this winter. Among those is multiple graded stakes winning turf mare, Starship Jubilee, who won the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes and Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes at Woodbine in 2017. Attard said Starship Jubilee would be back in the entries this weekend in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf, a race that is restricted the Florida-breds over 1 1/16-miles on the Gulfstream Park turf.
“It’s a pretty good spot for her,” he said. “She’s training really well heading into this race, so we’re expecting a good race out of her.”
Another one of Attard’s stable stars, Melmich, is also down in Florida, enjoying some rest in Ocala. Attard said he expected Melmich’s training would resume in the next couple of weeks, and it was possible he would join Attard at Gulfstream Park for a race later this winter.
“We might get a start into him,” he said. “Right now, he’s getting some rest. He’ll start gearing up his training in the next couple of weeks and we’ll go from there.”
While Attard’s horses are based in Florida, Attard himself is travelling back and forth between Florida and Toronto. Attard’s wife and two young children are still in the Toronto area for the winter, so Attard has his father, Tino, helping him out with the horses in Florida. Attard said that so far, commuting back and forth is going well, but as one would expect, he much prefers the weather in Florida at this time of year.
“Florida was cold for a little bit and then you come back here and you realize what cold is in Canada,” he said. “You appreciate the palm trees even though it might be hovering around low teens some of those mornings when they had a cold spell.”
Six other Woodbine trainers made their way to the winner’s circle last week, including Roger Attfield, who recorded his third stakes win of the winter with Tower of Texas in the Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap at Fair Grounds on January 13. In all, Attfield had four starters last week, as he also sent out Warrior Hall (seventh, Jan. 10), Y’all (fourth, Jan. 14), and Shakhimat, who ran fifth in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on January 13.
Michael Wright recorded a pair of wins from three starters at Tampa Bay Downs last week with Unbridled Piper (Jan. 10) and Laser Focus (Jan. 13). Wright almost made it a three-for-three week, as Aaronic Blessing ran second in his race on January 13.
Steven Chircop recorded a win from a pair of starters at Penn National last week, as He Started It won on January 12. Chircop’s other starter of the week, Get the Job Done, finished fourth on January 12.
Mike De Paulo was back in the winner’s circle for the second week in a row as Liberty Kitten won at Gulfstream Park on January 11. De Paulo also sent out Hidden to Win (fifth, Jan. 10) and Bullet Theblue Sky (seventh, Jan. 14) at Gulfstream Park last week.
Off Road won for Scott Fairlie at Laurel Park on January 14. Fairlie had three starters in all last week, as Another Girl finished third at Penn National on January 11, and Hipp Smitt finish fourth at Laurel Park on January 13.
John Mattine sent out Budding to a win at Gulfstream Park on January 12. Mattine also saddled Opening Remark, who finished fourth at Gulfstream on January 13.
A pair of Woodbine jockeys also found the winner’s circle last week, including Luis Contreras, who recorded a pair of wins at Oaklawn Park with Conquest Hiosilver (Jan. 12) and Mia d’Oro (Jan. 14). In all, Contreras recorded two wins, two runner-up finishes, and five third-place finishes from 20 starters last week, including a runner-up finish aboard Ever So Clever in the Pippin Stakes.
Rafael Hernandez recorded a win aboard Conquest Bigluck E at Aqueduct on January 13. Hernandez recorded a win, two runner-up finishes, and two third-place finishes from eight starters at Aqueduct last week, finishing second on Gold for the King in the Say Florida Sandy Stakes on January 13.
Kirk Johnson recorded three runner-up finishes from 11 starters at Mahoning Valley last week.
Ismael Mosqueira also hit the board last week, finishing third aboard Creative Doux at Turf Paradise on January 13. Mosqueira had eight mounts at Turf Paradise during the week.
Alan Garcia had four mounts at Oaklawn Park last week, with his best finish coming aboard Crack Your Whip, who finished sixth on January 12.
Michelle Rainford finished fourth aboard Hipp Smitt at Laurel Park on January 13.
Sheena Ryan had three mounts at Tampa Bay Downs last week, with her best finish coming on Dr. Llenado, who finished fifth on January 12.
Here’s a look at how the other Woodbine trainers fared last week, in alphabetical order, starting with Michael Blake, who sent out Amber Brewski to a sixth-place finish at Charles Town on January 10.
Josie Carroll hit the board with her only starter last week, as Drink in My Hand finished second at Gulfstream Park on January 12.
Nick Caruso had one of his three runners hit the board last week, as Gizmothemogwaijedi finished second at Penn National on January 11. Caruso’s other two starters of the week also ran on January 11 at Penn National, including Ark Ofthe Covenant (fifth) and Two Cuties (ninth).
Mark Casse didn’t get to the winner’s circle last week, but had three horses finish second in stakes on January 13, including Giada Vegas in the Marie G. Krantz Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds, Queen’s Plate prospect Wonder Gadot in the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds, and Dream Dancing in the Grade 3 Marshua’s River Stakes at Gulfstream Park. In all, Casse recorded four runner-up finishes from nine starters last week.
Nicholas Gonzalez had four runners at Gulfstream Park last week, including Yes Darlin (10th, Jan. 11), No Drinking Rules (4th, Jan. 11), Tenacity Zip (3rd, Jan. 13), and Uncle B (5th, Jan. 13).
Paula Loescher sent out a pair of runners at Tampa Bay Downs on January 13, including Perfetto, who finished third. Loescher’s other starter of the week, Patton’s Girl, finished seventh.
Donald MacRae hit the board with his only starter of the week last week, as Silky Mitts ran second at Charles Town on January 10.
Southern Dancer finished eighth at Gulfstream Park for Michael McDonald last week.
Norm McKnight, fresh off of his first Woodbine training title in 2017, got his winter started at Oaklawn Park last week, sending out four runners, including Villageofvibank (12th, Jan. 12), After Party (seventh, Jan. 12), Gizmo Jones (fourth, Jan. 13), and Constantino (eighth, Jan. 14).
Nick Mileni Jr. sent out a pair of runners at Laurel Park last week, including Devilish Style (seventh, Jan. 8) and Into the Mystic (fifth, Jan. 8).
The Accuser finished seventh at Gulfstream Park on January 10 for Pat Parente.
Malcolm Pierce sent out Secret Passage to a fifth-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs on January 14.
John Simms sent out four horses at Tampa Bay Downs last week, recording a runner-up finish from Gold Shark on January 10. Simms also sent out Magic Holiday (seventh, Jan. 10), Red Bo (seventh, Jan. 10), and Mojo Rising (fourth, Jan. 13).
Tiger Paw finished eighth at Gulfstream Park on January 13 for William Tharrenos.
Daniel Vella had a pair of runners at Gulfstream Park last week, including Sky Captain (sixth, Jan. 11) and Monetary System (fourth, Jan. 13).