12/17/2015 10:02AM

Old Valyria tests dirt, stakes company in Sandpiper Stakes

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Lauren King/Coglianese Photos
Kandoo will start on Saturday in the $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes at Tampa Bay.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – Trainer Jamie Attard picked an ambitious spot for his first stakes starter, sending out Lions Bay to finish sixth in the 2014 Queen’s Plate at Woodbine. Attard has a far better chance of getting his first stakes win Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, where he’ll send out Old Valyria in the $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for 2-year-old fillies.

Attard, the 28-year-old son of Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame trainer Sid Attard, said he isn’t quite sure how Old Valyria will perform in her first race on dirt, but after working the filly at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 12 and galloping her here Wednesday, he’s optimistic.

“You can work them and train them on it all you want, but until race day, you never know,” he said. “But she always worked really good on the dirt training track at Woodbine, and she worked good at Gulfstream and galloped beautifully over the track this morning. We’re hoping for the best.”

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In her career debut on Woodbine’s Polytrack in October, Old Valyria dominated a five-furlong maiden special weight race for Ontario-sired fillies, scoring by seven lengths and stopping the clock in 57.27 seconds. The daughter of Old Forester earned an 82 Beyer Speed Figure that is easily the highest mark among the nine fillies entered in the Sandpiper.

In her only subsequent start, Old Valyria finished second as the odds-on favorite in an Ontario-sired allowance.

“She has a lot of talent, this filly,” Attard said. “Her maiden win, I could never have imagined that she would win that impressively. It blew me away. In her second start, I was really surprised that she got beat.”

KEY CONTENDERS

Old Valyria (Beyers: 64-82)

◗ She will have Ronnie Allen Jr. aboard for the first time when she breaks from the No. 8 post.

Kandoo (Last 3 Beyers: 68-58-52)

◗ She owns the field’s highest last-out Beyer for a victory in an optional $75,000 claimer on the Gulfstream Park West turf in October. She turned in a bullet workout there Wednesday, breezing three furlongs in 35.20 seconds for trainer Ralph Nicks, who shows a profitable $2.24 return on investment in 2014-15 when going from turf to dirt.

Hidden Treat (Beyer: 64)

◗ She won her only start as the favorite in a maiden special weight sprint on the Laurel Park grass in October.

Conflate (Beyers: 57-41)

◗ One of two in here for trainer Eoin Harty, along with Slip of the Tongue, she caught sloppy tracks in both of her starts, with a win and a third-place finish. She’s worked four times over the local strip.

R Kinsley Doll (Beyers: 41-58)

◗ After winning her debut, she stumbled badly at the start of the $100,000 Juvenile Filly Sprint at Gulfstream Park West and finished a well-beaten fourth. She lures top local jockey Antonio Gallardo, who won four races here Wednesday.