Payson Winner Of The Week
Despite not having started since Nov. 8, Christine Hayden's Unspurned finished full of run to take the $146,287 Whimsical Stakes (Can-III) April 18 at Woodbine.
Racing in fourth early on in the six-furlong race, while favored Executive Allure set the pace through a half mile in :44.82, Unspurned rallied through the stretch under Alan Garcia to prevail by a length over Skylander Girl. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to Executive Allure who weakened to third.
Third-choice Skylander Girl pressed the pace of Executive Allure throughout and took the lead at the top of the stretch but couldn't hold off the furious late run from Unspurned, who a Canadian classic winner who notched her first career graded stakes win.
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.