Payson Winner Of The Week
The stretch run of the inaugural Grade 1, $1.25 million Belmont Derby turned into an exhilarating showdown between the United States and Europe when Mr Speaker hooked up with the highly touted Irish-bred Adelaide midway through the lane, with Mr Speaker proving best by a neck after a stretch-long tussle.
The Belmont Derby headlined a quintet of graded stakes, including the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks and Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban Handicap, on the newly created Stars & Stripes Day card, which aimed to attract some of the best overseas horses to compete at Belmont.
Mr Speaker, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for Phipps Stable, rebounded strongly in the Belmont Derby. After finishing fifth in the Pennine Ridge, the local prep for the 1 ¼-mile turf race for 3-year-olds.
"I had a concrete reason [to dismiss his race in the Pennine Ridge], but you always have your doubts," said McGaughey. "Does he belong in the top layer of horses or not? I think today he proved he does. My confidence was shaken a little bit; he was a different horse [before the Pennine Ridge], it was like he had never been in the paddock before. He went to the post and was looking up into the crowd. But today, he was an entirely different horse."
Early in life, Roger Attfield was the sort of kid who would look wistfully out the school window and think of animals, horses or farming. Especially horses.
Obviously, he has a way with them. It's as if he speaks their language, knows how to coax the best out of them. And now the 72-year-old thoroughbred trainer, who is based at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, has received the ultimate reward: He will be inducted into the U. S. National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
The ceremony will take place Aug. 10 at Saratoga, the mecca of all top horsemen in the United States. And now he belongs there. After winning just about every major race in Canada multiple times, last November he won his first Breeders' Cup race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., with 27-to-1 shot Perfect Shirl.
"I was so happy for him," said Richard Dos Ramos, a Woodbine jockey who has ridden many long-shot winners for Attfield over the years. "He's well deserved of it. He always wanted to get a Breeders' Cup and that was fantastic to see. The filly probably ran the best race of her life at the right time. He makes them peak at the right time.
"When you're coming up to big races like the Queen's Plate, or any type of big race like that, his horses are always usually right there and they seem to step up."
Attfield was born in Newbury, England, where he worked as a show-jumping rider and an amateur steeplechase jockey. He was the son of a coal merchant who didn't have the means to outfit him with ponies to ride, so Attfield got his fix by riding horses for other people.