11/06/2008 1:00AM

Attfield on pace for his career richest meet


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Roger Attfield has never been far from the spotlight.

But after a few relatively quiet years, Attfield has been back at center stage in 2008 and should eclipse his personal Woodbine earnings record of $4.13 million.

Heading into the final five weeks of the meet, Attfield's runners have earned $3.97 million while accounting for 12 stakes wins, giving him the lead in that category at the meeting.

And Attfield has a couple of stakes bullets to fire on Sunday - Palladio, who is entered for the Autumn Stakes, and Hello Maggie May, who is in Sunday's Jammed Lovely.

Both the Autumn and Jammed Lovely offer purses of $150,000, with the Grade 2 Autumn a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward and the Jammed Lovely a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies.

Palladio is coming into the Autumn in peak form after winning the Grade 3 Durham Cup at 1 1/8 miles last time out.

A 6-year-old homebred who races for Haras Santa Maria de Araras, Palladio finished fifth in last year's Autumn while making the 11th and final start of a campaign which had ended on a downward spiral.

"He just didn't do well for me last year," said Attfield. "There was no particular reason. He didn't carry the weight he was supposed to carry, and never looked like the same horse he'd been earlier."

Late last fall, Attfield took Palladio to Payson Park in Florida for a break, which turned out to be much longer than expected after the horse suffered an injury.

Palladio resurfaced at Woodbine on July 27 in the Grade 3 Seagram Cup, a 1 1/16-mile race in which he finished a creditable third.

"He was training as good as he was when he was at his best, as a 3-year-old," said Attfield, who guided Palladio to the Sovereign Award for his division that year.

Having no other option locally for Palladio following the Seagram Cup, Attfield took a shot at the Woodbine Mile.

"I'm still convinced he would have run well, if the turf hadn't come up soft," said Attfield.

And now, having gotten back on track in the Durham Cup, and with the Autumn being his last appearance of the meeting, Palladio will be following a different path later this fall.

"He's a Florida-bred, but every winter I've been giving him time off after running all summer," said Attfield. "It's a different situation this year. He's just getting started. He can have a winter campaign."

Attfield high on Hello Maggie May

Hello Maggie May, a homebred 3-year-old filly who races for Bill Graham, is an up-and-comer in the Attfield echelon and became a stakes winner last time out in the 6 1/2-furlong Ruling Angel.

"She's doing great," said Attfield. "She's a nice, honest filly."

Unraced at 2 after being injured, Hello Maggie May tipped her hand with a closing second-place finish in her 6 1/2-furlong debut here June 25, then graduated in impressive fashion two weeks later.

Since then, Hello Maggie May is 2 for 5, with the wins coming in Polytrack sprints and the losses in a turf sprint and two Polytrack routes.

Attfield, however, is not convinced that two-turn racing is beyond Hello Maggie May's reach.

"In her first race at 1 1/16 miles she went to the lead," said Attfield. "I knew she wouldn't run her race then. She wants to come from off the pace.

"In the other one, she ducked down on the inside, which was really bad at that time."

For now, Hello Maggie May's chance to vindicate herself at a distance will have to wait as her immediate concern is the seven furlongs of the Jammed Lovely, and formidable opposition that includes Ginger Brew and Authenicat.

"I think she's got a decent little future ahead of her," said Attfield.

Stray Cat Stride's future bright

Stray Cat Stride, a 3-year-old gelding trained by Danny O'Callaghan, made an impressive return to action in the allowance feature here Wednesday night.

Owned and bred by Ian Jamieson, Stray Cat Stride had last raced on June 27, winning a first-level Ontario-sired allowance race at six furlongs.

Stray Cat Stride was facing Ontario-sired nonwinners of three at the same distance on Wednesday and was a comfortable 2 3/4-length winner under regular rider Richard Dos Ramos.

Stray Cat Stride had been supplemented to the Deputy Minister here July 16, but did not make it to the starting gate.

"He came out sore that evening for the vet," said O'Callaghan. "We found a little saucer fracture. Other than that, he's been a very sound horse."

Wednesday's win was the third in four outings for Stray Cat Stride, who was unraced last year.

"He was just a big 2-year-old, so we gave him some time," said O'Callaghan, who watched Stray Cat Stride finish an encouraging fourth in his 5 1/2-furlong debut here this May 21 and then win his maiden in a dead heat at 6 1/2 furlongs three weeks later.

"He always works good. He's an easy horse to train. He just does everything right."

Stray Cat Blues is eligible for the $125,000 Sir Barton, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward here Dec. 3, but O'Callaghan is not committing to that spot.

In any case, Stray Cat Stride will winter in Ontario and return to the track in February with an eye toward the Ontario-sired stakes program here next year.

Western invader Rosberg tours track

Rosberg, who checked in Wednesday morning from Vancouver and will make his local debut in the Autumn, had his first feel of Woodbine's Polytrack on Thursday.

"He floated over the surface," said exercise rider Demetris Topouzis, who is here with the horse along with groom Ronald Griffin. "It's amazing how different the Polytrack is from the dirt surface at Hastings."

Rosberg, trained by Dino Condilenios, won the Grade 3 Premiers at 1 3/8 miles at Hastings last time out with True Metropolitan, who will be seeking his third straight Autumn win on Sunday, finishing 8 1/2 lengths behind him in fifth.

Emile Ramsammy has the mount aboard Rosberg on Sunday.

Hall of Fame riders press the flesh

Laffit Pincay Jr. will be flying in from California to join Sandy Hawley for autograph sessions here this weekend.

On Saturday, Pincay and Hawley will be available on the second floor of the grandstand for a one-hour question and answer period beginning at 11:30 a.m., moderated by Woodbine television host Jeff Bratt. A one-hour autograph session will follow.

On Sunday, Pincay and Hawley will be back for a two-hour autograph session beginning at 12 p.m.