TORONTO, March 30, 2022 – In this week’s final report of the season, trainers Angus Buntain and Jamie Attard talk about their respective 2021 campaigns and upcoming 2022 seasons, plus more.
Tracking Success: Angus Buntain
- 32 career wins
- Top horses include Ratface Macdougall, Nupogodi, Krachenwagen, Youens and Hunt Master
- Recorded a career best 10 wins, top-three finishes (22) and $339,443 (U.S.) in purse earnings in 2021
2021 Highlights: “It ended up being a good year, especially the second half. The first half was really quite poor, but things got better as we went along in the second half. I think, for whatever reason, we just didn’t get off to a very good start. As the season progressed, the horses seemed to get a little fitter and perhaps we put a few of them in better spots where they could be competitive. It all really gelled in November, right at the end of the year, where we won five races in November. I didn’t want the meet to end, but all good things come to an end. It was nice to salvage a season with a big second half because the first half was really disappointing and frustrating.”
In praise of Youens: “The one that I am most proud of, and who had a really good year, was Youens (owned by Jaroslaw Kowalczyk). She went through the Triple Tiara series, and at the end of November, finally broke her maiden in a maiden allowance race against the boys, with a really good, strong rallying effort. That was vindication to me, that I knew she was a good filly, and she finally put it all together in that victory. That was very satisfying. She was a little immature throughout the Tiara, physically, and you just saw her blossom later in the season. It was really great to see.”
In praise of Youens, Part II: “She’s been second by a nose in two allowance races at Fair Grounds this year. She’s been really sharp. She rallied like crazy and then galloped out 10 and 20 in front after the race. That, of course, is very encouraging for this year. Those were mile and a sixteenth turf races, so anything at Woodbine going a mile and an eighth or further on the grass, she’s going to really enjoy that. I’m very excited to get her back.”
Picking up where they left off: “We are going to try and carry through that momentum from the end of last year into the beginning of this year, and not have a slump early on. We’re going to work to get a little more consistency throughout the season and not have as many high-highs and low-lows. We’d like to have a little more consistency. I’m going to have 16 [horses] this year. I have 18, but 16 stalls, so we’ll just juggle them the best we can. I should have a full complement of 16 throughout the season I would imagine.”
Keeping tabs on: “There’s my good two-year-old from last season, Hunt Master (owned by Susan Rasmussen’s Openwood Farm). He’s actually nominated to the Queen’s Plate. Whether he’s good enough to get on that path remains to be seen. We’ll let him tell us. He’s exciting. I always liked the little horse. He’s a very athletic and hard-trying horse. Hopefully he’s matured a bit over the winter, and we’ll see if we can get him there, that he can be competitive with those good horses. If he is, that’s great and if he’s not, we’ll just map out a different campaign. He was a good two-year-old.”
Final furlong: “It’s not like I set a goal for 10 victories last year, which was a season-high for me. I was really proud of that. The tenth win was with Youens, so that made it all the more special. I’d like to surpass 10 wins this season, that’s the primary goal, to do as well or better than last season in terms of number of wins. As I said, we just want to improve on the consistency and hopefully surpass 10 wins. I think that would be a good season.”
Trainer Talk: Jamie Attard
Need to know – Jamie Attard began working at the racetrack with his father, hall of fame trainer Sid Attard, on weekends and holidays from school when he was 10 and moved up to grooming horses when he was 15. He became an assistant trainer for his father at the beginning of 2008 and served as his assistant until the end of 2012. The younger Attard’s first training win came on September 29, 2012, which happened to be his father’s birthday. He’s created a name for himself since going out on his own, notching 54 wins. Attard recorded his first stakes victory when Red Equinox took the Rondeau Bay on September 14, 2021 at Fort Erie.
On his top moment last year: “2021 was a very special year for me and the highlight was without a doubt winning my first stakes race as a trainer on Prince of Wales day at Fort Erie. It’s of course something you always strive to achieve as a trainer and to finally accomplish that was definitely a dream come true and the best day of my life.”
Stepping up to the challenge: “Red Equinox really came through on the promise she showed as a two-year-old and won impressively in her second start and followed it up two starts later with the stakes win in the Rondeau Bay at Fort Erie.”
Sophomore stars: “I’m really excited for all the three-year-olds that we developed last year as two-year-olds and expect them to take the next step this year, and of course you’re always excited about the new crop of babies coming in with all the potential they have to really be anything.”
Sound advice: “Without a doubt the best advice I’ve ever been given was when I was very young from my father, and it’s that you have to treat every horse as an individual and to have patience. What might work for one won’t necessarily work for another and you have to be able to read them and get inside their heads to see what makes them happiest.”
Final furlong: “The best quote I’ve ever heard about treating every horse as an individual was when my dad was on the phone with an owner and was talking about the development of young horses and said, ‘Let me ask you this, when you build a house, what do you build first? The foundation. Without a strong foundation the house won’t stand.’”
2021 Race Rewind:
Watch as Munnyfor Ro, the 8-5 choice, take all the spoils in the $125,000 Ontario Damsel Stakes, on October 31, 2021.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications