Payson Winner Of The Week
There are times when horse racing can produce maddening, inexplicable results, waved away with a shrug and a common refrain, "That's horse racing."
Then there are times when everything comes together as if pre-ordained. The best jockey, on the best horse, prepared by the best trainer, bred by a family that has been competing at the top of racing for generations, wins the Kentucky Derby.
So it was Saturday at Churchill Downs, at the 139th Kentucky Derby, when Orb brought trainer Shug McGaughey, the nation’s leading rider, Joel Rosario; and the families of Ogden Phipps and Stuart Janney III their first Derby victory with a convincing, 2 1/2-length win.
Orb ($12.80) went off the tepid favorite, the product of coming into the Derby with a four-race win streak and the positive impression he made all week here at Churchill Downs, including a sharp final workout Monday. Then he went out and ran like he trained.
Over a track rated sloppy after extensive rain earlier in the day, Orb completed 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.89. The pace was surprisingly fast early – a half-mile in 45.33 seconds, six furlongs in 1:09.80 – and resulted in horses who were well back early sweeping the first three spots.
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.