07/06/2010 11:00PM

At least Spice Route delivered for Attfield


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Queen's Plate Day was not a particularly memorable one for trainer Roger Attfield.

Decked out in his finest here last Sunday, Attfield had watched Mobilizer finish ninth as the lukewarm favorite in the Queen's Plate after Not Bourbon had run fifth as fourth choice at 9-2 in the Highlander.

All was not lost, however, as Spice Route intervened with an impressive 3 3/4-length score in the Grade 3, $163,600 Singspiel at 1 1/2 miles on the turf.

"If it wasn't for Spice Route, I would have got killed," said Attfield.

Spice Route, a 6-year-old gelding who is owned by Attfield in partnership with Ralph Johnson and Dick Bonnycastle, was making his first start in more than six months.

"I thought he might have been a little bit short," said Attfield. "I would have liked to have got another work or two into him," But, he was overpowering. He annihilated them."

The next race here for the older turf horse division is the Grade 2 Nijinsky on July 24.

But, with the Nijinsky having been shortened to 1 1/8 miles this year, Spice Route may be seeking another option.

The Grade 2 Sky Classic, at 1 3/8 miles here Aug. 22, is at a distance which would be more to Spice Route's liking and offers a purse of $250,000.

"The long-range plan is to have a good fall with him," said Attfield. "If this horse stays good, he's capable of running with anybody."

Not Bourbon, making his second career start on turf and his third since missing all of last season with a fractured shoulder, was beaten 7 1/2 lengths in the Highlander, a Grade 2, $204,400 race at six furlongs on turf.

Regular rider Jono Jones told Attfield that Not Bourbon seems to run better on Woodbine's main track.

"I'm not going to run him on turf again," said Attfield. "He'll cruise along, just like he does on Polytrack, but Jono says he just doesn't have that same kick."

Not Bourbon won the Queen's Plate and Plate Trial, his only two career races around two turns on Polytrack, during his 2008 championship campaign.

"I'd like to get him running longer again," said Attfield.

Mobilizer was scheduled to undergo minor throat surgery this week to correct a problem which may have compromised his Queen's Plate performance.

"He bled, and entrapped [his epiglottis] a little," said Attfield. "He'll miss two and a half or three weeks."

Hollinger awaits further testing

Attfield said he thinks his Queen's Plate would have been a different story if Hollinger, who was Canada's champion 2-year-old, had been able to make the race.

"If he'd been 100 percent, I would have gone in with a lot of confidence," said Attfield. "I think he would have been a standout."

Hollinger, however, had performed disappointingly in both the seven-furlong Queenston and 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial and Attfield said he believes there must be an underlying problem.

"We want to do a full-body scan on him, to see if we've missed anything," said Attfield. "Then, we'll address the situation again."

That test is being held up due to a worldwide shortage of isotopes which has plagued the medical and veterinary professions over the past couple of years.

In the meantime, Hollinger is on hold.

"He's still training every day," said Attfield. "But we've had to cut back, as opposed to doing a full program. He'll gallop a mile and then we'll have to pony him home, he's feeling so good."