Paul Attard is at home on the Woodbine backstretch
Attard, whose father is Hall of Fame horseman Sid Attard, was always on track for a career in the racing game.
“I worked for my father as a groom and then as his assistant,” recalls Attard of a childhood spent at Woodbine. “When I was 18 or 19, I knew that one day I’d like to go out on my own, and maybe just have a couple horses of my own”
The opportunity came when Attard was asked to train a few horses for Goldmart Farms, but not before he had completed a college education in Hotel and Restaurant Management at Humber College.
“I wanted to be here (at Woodbine), but my mother said I had to go to college before I came here full time,” smiles Attard. “It’s good to have something different to fall back on because you never know if you can make it in this business. It’s taken this long to get to where I am now and the stock that I have and the owners I have. I’ve been lucky that way.”
Niigon's Touch looking splendid in the walking ring
Attard’s on-track education allowed for some excellent hand’s on learning.
“You learn different experiences from every horse you deal with,” says Attard. “Working with my father, I worked with a lot of horses that taught me a lot. It’s easy with good horses, it’s what you do with the bad horses that determine how you do.”
Attard with Talknow in the Woodbine paddock
One horse, in particular, who helped Attard learn the game was Vany’s Forum, a hard-knocking Florida-bred who won 11 races in 41 starts and earnings in excess of $370,000.
“I trained him for Goldmart Farms,” recalls Attard. “For whatever reason, he liked our style of training and he was a fun horse to train.”
The bay Open Forum gelding was claimed for $40,000 on September 7, 2002 and Attard swiftly improved on the horse, helping the horse find the winner’s circle in a claiming event before winning a competitive $69,000 Allowance besting 13 rivals at odds of 42-1.
A modest Attard believes the horse just needed a change of scenery.
“You might have a horse and do everything right with him, but if he doesn’t like the way you do things...,” starts Attard. “Someone else can get the horse, and not that it was done wrong before, but the horse prefers your way. You have to adapt and make changes, you can’t train them all the same.”
Niigon's Touch pulls a face for the camera
The soft-spoken Attard is pensive, taking a deep breath as he ponders how to answer each question as thoroughly, and honestly, as possible.
Why does he like training horses?
“There’s a lot of responsibility but there’s a certain freedom to it that I don’t think you get anywhere else,” he says. “Even when then race, it’s not always about the money, it’s to know that you had the best horse in that race. There’s no feeling like it.”
Niigon's Touch chillin'
A pause to reflect on his answer, and he elaborates on the magic of making a winner.
“To have your helping hand in there,” he adds. “A lot of people come together to make a horse win. There’s a thousand ways to lose a race and only one way to win it. Everything has to go right and it’s a great feeling when it does work.”
He doesn’t find it difficult being one of six Woodbine trainers with the surname of Attard (Paul, Kevin, Sid, Tino, Larry, Steve…not to mention a slew of cousins!), in fact, he sees it as a plus.
“I don’t find it difficult at all,” he says. “I have a lot of people to talk to and it’s nice having family here. If I was working here and my family was in another industry, I probably wouldn’t see them one tenth as much I do now.”
As he stands in the grandstand watching his horses train across the Polytrack, Attard offers an insight into his love of the game.
“The hours are pretty long but you can’t look at it as a job, it’s a way of life,” says Attard. “I’m here at 5:15 every morning and usually, until the races are done, I’m here. But, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
It’s not that he hasn’t tried a different occupation, either.
“A couple times over the winter, I worked in a factory when we weren’t racing here and I couldn’t take that,” recalls Attard. “Working on an assembly line in a factory, I kept thinking I’d rather be outside working with the horses.”
And so, it seems, Attard has found his dream job. With $741,404 in the bank this meet, he’s well down the road on his way to a million-dollar season - - not that he’ll take any credit for the success.
“First of all, (you need) the owners,” says Attard earnestly. “I don’t care what anyone says, if you don’t have the right stock you can’t make the horse. It takes good help and I’ve been very lucky.”
Rather than standing out in the crowd, Attard is content to quietly go about his business and let the statistics do the talking.
“The attention lately has been great but it’s not consuming me,” he says. “There are ups and downs I’m just enjoying the ups. You don’t get too high on the highs or too low on the lows.”
Anne's Beauty takes on Inglorious this Sunday
And as for his horses, he offers no special secret to his success and refuses to pick a favourite - - not even the double-stakes winner Anne’s Beauty who will take on Queen’s Plate winner Inglorious this Sunday - - from his high-percentage barn.
“I look at every horse that I have and try and get the best out of them,” he says quietly. “We enjoy training them all. Anne’s Beauty has been great for us. Niigon’s Touch, Kurogane…these horses give you everything they have every time and you look forward to them running.”
As rooted as he sounds, he’s not afraid to dream about the big score.
“The Plate is everybody’s dream,” he says. “My father won the Woodbine Mile with Numerous Times when I was an assistant there and it would be nice if someday I was in that situation.”
* * *
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"2.06am and another sleepless night since back from Canada, jet lag has set in,at this rate I'll be looking for a nightwatchmans position!" - - Ed Vaughan, trainer of trip-troubled Woodbine Mile contender Dance And Dance, reflects on a difficult week via Twitter.
RACE CALL OF THE WEEK
"Here comes Right One, sliding up the rail...a wild finish...Right One...far outside, Turallure...Right One, Turallure, Courageous Cat...Turallure I think got it!" - - a whiplashed Dan Loiselle called the name of nearly every horse through the stretch of a thrilling finish in the Woodbine Mile.
Turallure wins the Ricoh Woodbine Mile
Woodbine $100K Guaranteed Pick 4
Every Wednesday and Sunday, Woodbine offers up an incredible $100K Guaranteed Pick-4. For more details, check out the selections of WEG experts on WEG's Thoroughbred Pick-4 page. More info also available on Woodbine's Facebook page.
The handsome Turallure owned Woodbine this week
This and That
Sad news for friends at Three Chimney's this week as Rahy dies at the age of 26:
Outstanding sire RAHY (Blushing Groom [Fr]) has succumbed to the infirmities of old age, Robert and Blythe Clay's Three Chimneys Farm announced Thursday. The son of Canadian Hall of Famer and Eclipse Award winner Glorious Song (Halo) was 26.
The UKPA reports that Side Glance, who was fourth in the Woodbine Mile, will take on Frankel in his next start - - Glance sets sights on QEII:
Andrew Balding's four-year-old ran a fine race to finish fourth in the Woodbine Mile at the weekend, beaten just over a length. He is likely to have to take on Frankel at Ascot and having already been gelded, Balding is keen to campaign him ambitiously.
Balding said: "Hopefully he'll run in the QEII and then possibly to Hong Kong. He's a gelding so he should be around for a few years yet."
Reflecting on his run in Canada, Balding went on: "Unfortunately Jimmy (Fortune) said that if he'd settled a bit better earlier in the race he would have gone very close, but he was just a bit too keen. The draw didn't help either - he could never really get settled but he still ran well."
Trainer Ian Black nearly pulled off a nifty stakes double on Saturday. While Black was saddling Excaper in the Summer Stakes, his wife Janet dialed up Parx on her iPad so they could watch their Stormy Lord defeat a strong field in the President's Cup. Minutes after the Parx score, Excaper would finish a strong second to Finale. So close! - - Stormy Lord upsets PTHA President's Cup:
This was the first U.S. stakes success for Stormy Lord, who ran third in last year's Kent S. (G3) and sixth in the Commonwealth Turf S. (G3). However, the four-year-old gelding has enjoyed occasional success in his homeland, landing the Connaught Cup (Can-G2) on May 29, the Ontario Jockey Club S. on July 13, and the 2010 renewal of the Toronto Cup. Among his various stakes-placings was a close second in last year's classic Breeders' S., but the chestnut entered the President's Cup in mixed form with poor finishes in the Highlander S. (Can-G2) and Play the King S. (Can-G2) interspersed among his successes in the Connaught Cup and Ontario Jockey Club this season. His record now stands at 19-7-5-1, $849,770.
TrackPackPA, a website that sees the funny side of the game, puts out the welcome mat for Mike De Paulo's Pender Harbour with a 'Canadian collage' featuring the horse, John Candy and a waving flag - - Welcome to America, Pender Harbour.
The NTRA's Penelope Miller had kind words for Woodbine's event-specific #WoMile Twitter hashtag, which identified news stories, photos and conversations related to the Woodbine Mile on Twitter the past few weeks. Check out Miller's post, Woodbine Gets Social:
Not only was it a great way to make sure that people could easily identify tweets about the Mile, but Woodbine was also building its brand in the Twitter search engine by encouraging anyone tweeting about the race to include the #WoMile tag in the tweet.
Woodbine is a great example of a track that’s utilizing social media proactively as a way to increase interaction with fans while raising awareness of one of their biggest days of racing. In addition to the #WoMile hashtag, the folks at the Toronto oval also livestreamed the draw for the Mile and included a celebrity guest drawmaster, Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer. Also included in the Woodbine draw ceremonies was this great video giving fans and media background information on all of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile contenders
Still Need More?
As always, keep track of the latest goings on in the world of horse racing by clicking into TripleDeadHeat's Woodbine News page or join in on the conversation by following TripleDeadHeat on Twitter.
More than a few photos from the Breeders' Cup Win & You're In weekend at Woodbine!
(As always, double left-click the photo to enlarge and use your 'Back' button to return to the Photo Essay)
Turallure wins the Woodbine Mile
Turallure surges to the lead
The beautifully turned out Side Glance
Loved the stars and stripes pattern!
A River runs through it
Kara's Orientation was stunning in the paddock
The alluring Turallure
Here come the jocks
Grand Adventure strides into the ring
Dance And Dance can run and run
Jamie Spencer tangoes to the track with Dance And Dance
A pat on the back for Court Vision
Courageous Cat and P-Val head to the track
Court Vision holding court
Forte Dei Marmi makes his Canadian debut
Patrick Husbands heads out for a Grand Adventure
Kara's Orientation leads Emile Ramsammy to the track
Riding the River and Richard Dos Ramos
Emma-Jayne Wilson and Woodbourne looking chipper
Right One was the wrong one in a narrow loss on this day
Side Glance - - worth more thana passing look
A step after the wire...
NORTHERN DANCER TURF - WIGMORE HALL
Al Khali in the shadow of a tree
Bourbon Bay and jockey Joe Talamo
Not quite chilly enough yet for Hailstone
Simmard tried hard
Alan Garcia atop Al Khali
Seaside Retreat and Luis Contreras
Leparoux and Hailstone
And they're off in the Northern Dancer!
CANADIAN STAKES - NEVER RETREAT
Never Retreat to the wire first in the Canadian
The good Apple Charlotte
Johnathan Shepherd and Rajiv Maragh talk strategy as Fantasia circles
Bay to Bay between the trees
Fantasia is no Mickey Mouse horse
Omar Moreno and Forest Uproar
Magic Broomstick sweeps into the walking ring
And stretch...1,2,3...and relax...Miss Keller prepares for the big race
Miss Keller shows us her game face
Mekong Melody and John Velazquez
Leparoux and Never Retreat advance towards the track
NATALMA STAKES - NORTHERN PASSION
Woodbine today, not Saratoga, for Dayatthespa
What is Evil Kitten thinking?
Ten K Cat completes a feline triactor of entrants
Northern Passion prepares to impress
Hard Not to Like
Runfor Ro gets ready to run
Northern Passion wins the Natalma
Welcome Dance is one big filly
The frisky miss decided she didn't need a jockey
Luis Contreras waves to the grandstand after the big win
We're number one!
Luis Contreras in the winner's circle with his two sons
SUMMER STAKES - FINALE
Secret Consultant and his groom Fuzzy
I think we'd all like to Burn The Mortgage
Finale is fine
Daddy Nose Best ain't nuthin to sneeze at
Excaper nearly stole the show from Finale
Preparing for the big Finale...
The lanky Maritimer
Emile Ramsammy gets a leg up from Mike Doyle
Excaper and Finale battle to the wire
Finale wins the Summer Stakes
A better dream job you could never find...