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Woodbine: Attfield, Keogh set sights on Queen's Plate upset
By Bill Tallon
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainers Roger Attfield and Mike Keogh, both separately and together, have been down the Queen’s Plate road many times.
Attfield has been represented by a total of 34 starters in 25 editions of the Queen’s Plate, beginning with his victory with Norcliffe in 1976. His eight Queen’s Plate victories put him in a tie for the lead with Harry Giddings Jr., whose winning years ranged from 1911 to 1942.
Keogh started working as an assistant to Attfield in 1986 before going out on his own as a private trainer for owner/breeder Gustav Schickedanz in 1993.
Attfield won Queen’s Plates with Market Control (1987), With Approval (1989), Izvestia (1990), Alydeed (1992), and Peteski (1993) during Keogh’s time with the barn. Keogh galloped Alydeed and saddled Market Control when Attfield had three entrants in the 1987 running.
Keogh, who left Attfield's employ two days after Peteski’s 1993 win, has gone on to participate in seven Queen’s Plates in his own right, winning with Woodcarver in 1999 and sending out Wando and Mobil for a 1-2 finish in 2003.
On Sunday, Attfield will saddle Colleen’s Sailor for the Queen’s Plate, while Keogh counters with Ultimate Destiny.
Both Colleen’s Sailor and Ultimate Destiny are coming off decent allowance efforts and will merit some respect as possible upsetters in a bulky field.
Colleen’s Sailor, a homebred who will be the first Queen’s Plate entrant for Sal and Colleen Simeone’s Terria di Sienna, was an unexpected addition to the Attfield stable.
“I didn’t inherit this horse until the middle of March,” said Attfield, who had been contacted by the Simeones and had his first good look at Colleen’s Sailor in Ocala, Fla.
Colleen’s Sailor had been trained here by Brian Lynch last year, winning his maiden at six furlongs in his second start but then finishing fifth in both the Cup and Saucer over 1 1/16 miles of soft turf and in the Display over 1 1/16 miles of Polytrack.
“I didn’t know that much about him when I got him, other than he didn’t run well in the Cup and Saucer and Display, but I understand there were reasons for that at the time,” Attfield said.
Back at Woodbine, Colleen’s Sailor made his first start for Attfield in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles, in which he finished behind a pair of older rivals and was beaten 4 3/4 lengths.
In his most recent outing May 27, Colleen’s Sailor pressed a slow pace in a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles and wore down the Pennslyvania-bred Patrioticandproud to score by a head.
Patrioticandproud returned to finish second behind his Kentucky-bred stablemate Prospective in the Victoria Park Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.
“Both races were good, and he’s been training along very well since then,” Attfield said. “He appears to be a very genuine horse.
“I would have liked to have had one more race in him, but I couldn’t jam one in. The extra eighth of a mile is a big step; many people don’t realize that. But I think he’ll be okay with it.”
Attfield had recruited John Velazquez for the mount on Colleen’s Sailor. But when Velazquez was injured in a spill at Churchill Downs last Saturday night, Attfield went back to Corey Nakatani who had ridden the colt to his allowance victory here. Nakatani will be making his first appearance in a Queen’s Plate.
Keogh back in Plate with new owner
Keogh’s previous Queen’s Plate starters all were owned and bred by Gustav Schickedanz, but Ultimate Destiny is one of the first Thoroughbreds owned by Brenda Selwyn-Waxman, whose racing roots are in the Standardbred game.
“I wish I had one for Gus, too,” Keogh said. “The ones we were thinking might be Plate horses just didn’t go on.”
UItimate Destiny, an Ontario-sired colt, was purchased privately for $16,000 by bloodstock agent Alistair Roden on Selywn-Waxman’s behalf after going through the ring at the local select yearling sale.
Keogh, also closely involved with the purchase, had known Roden through a connection with Langfuhr, the multiple Grade 1 stakes winner whom he campaigned for Schickedanz in the mid-1990s.
“He used to take care of Langfuhr at Vinery,” Keogh said. “And he’d take him to Australia to stand at stud for their season.”
Keogh had fancied the pedigree of Ultimate Destiny, who is by Dance of Destiny out of a Pleasant Tap mare with additional sources of stamina in previous generations.
And after watching Ultimate Destiny finish second when stretching out for the first time here last fall in the 1 1/16-mile Kingarvie Stakes, Keogh began entertaining dreams of the Queen’s Plate.
“He ran a big race there,” Keogh said. “That’s why we kept him eligible.”
After spending the off season with Keogh on Schickedanz’s South Carolina spread, Ultimate Destiny finished second in a restricted first-level allowance when making his seasonal bow over seven furlongs April 21. Returning just more than two weeks later, Ultimate Destiny graduated with ease in a 1 1/16-mile race at the same level.
Then, on May 23, Ultimate Destiny finished a solid second behind the 4-year-old Head Honcho when racing under his second allowance condition at 1 1/16 miles.
“I thought he ran a big race,” Keogh said. “He had kind of a different trip. He was inside, outside, and back inside. He should get a lot of education out of it.”
Keogh had chosen the allowance race over a race such as the June 3 Plate Trial because of its positioning with regards to the Queen’s Plate.
“That gave him four weeks,” Keogh said. “That’s the way I did it with Wando. It was five weeks from the Marine Stakes. I had to run Mobil in the Trial, to keep them separate.”
And while Ultimate Destiny is coming into the Queen’s Plate with credentials currently far off those of Keogh's 2003 contestants, he appears to be quite content with Ultimate Destiny’s situation.
“I think he’s getting better with every race, and I think he’ll be better the further they go,” Keogh said. “I definitely think he’ll get the mile and a quarter.”
Steven Bahen, Ultimate Destiny’s regular rider, already has carved out a niche in Queen’s Plate history as the rider of T J’s Lucky Moon, who was an 82-1 upsetter in the 2002 running.
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