Payson Winner Of The Week
Tuttipaesi may have put off her intended retirement with a rousing victory in the $100,000 South Beach Stakes Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
The 5-year-old mare was on her toes in the post parade, but settled kindly under jockey Chris DeCarlo as longshot Celebrity Star set the pace. Angled out approaching the stretch, the gray mare closed stoutly up the center of the course to score by 1 1/2 lengths, and returned $16.60 to her backers. The final time for the 7 1/2-furlong South Beach was 1:31.58. Favored Hope Cross finished with a flourish on the inside to complete the exacta, while Lori’s Store also came on late to get third. Tuttipaesi, owned by the all-female syndicate Valor Ladies, is trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott.
Bred in Ireland, Tuttipaesi began her career in Italy before being acquired privately as the inaugural offering by Valor Ladies. She kicked off her Stateside tenure in 2013 by annexing the Ginger Brew Stakes over this Gulfstream surface. The daughter of Clodovil ran with credit during the remainder of her sophomore campaign, including a second in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes and a third in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes. Limited to only a pair of starts in 2014, she recorded a confidence-building success in the Suffolk Distaff Turf Stakes at Suffolk Downs on October 3 last time out.
“Bill said to break and try to ride her like I did last time,” DeCarlo said. “The last time I rode her I just dropped her head and let her do her thing. That was exactly what I did. There was good pace in front of me so I didn’t have to take too much hold of her, which was better for me because she was able to do everything relaxed. I was just tracking in behind Paco (Lopez, aboard Unbridled Courage) and the front group up until we straightened away. I was loaded for bear. I had ton of horse. When I wheeled her out and asked her to go, she went on. I have to thank Mr. Mott and the owners for the opportunity to ride her.”
With spring in full swing, some of horse racing's top runners are just beginning to flex their muscles in their first few starts or workouts of the year. Many of the sport's top performers will be fresh off a respite at the training center that many have called "Club Med for horses."
The slogan of Payson Park in Indiantown, Fla., is "Happy horses win," and it's a philosophy its management takes seriously. It's even their web address. Originally begun in the 1950s as St. Lucie Training Center, Payson spans 400 acres and includes one-mile turf and dirt tracks, European galloping and hacking trails and lots of turnout space.
"What we offer here is very different from the normal training center, in that it is truly a training center," said facility owner Virginia Kraft Payson. "It is not an approximation of a backstretch, as some of our competition which deals in numbers. You won't find an inch of concrete anywhere here."
Payson is proud to say that the facility has played host to the same group of top-class trainers since she took over the training center in 1980. In fact, morning training hours look like a Hall of Fame clinic, with Bill Mott aboard his pony and Shug McGaughey a few feet away watching his horses from along the outside rail. Christophe Clement jokes from atop a trail railing that they "train by committee" here as Roger Attfield's trainees saunter by.
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.