10/19/2011 12:30PM

Woodbine: Buttigieg going strong


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Paul Buttigieg had a career year at Woodbine in 2010, with his 21 wins and purse money of $952,931 enhanced by the slew of bonuses he collected as the owner and breeder of almost all of his stock.

But the 64-year-old Buttigieg certainly isn’t the type to get carried away and knew that he would have difficulty performing an encore this season.

“Last year my older horses just kept putting out their conditions, and I took my 2-year-olds in early,” said Buttigieg.

“This year all my older horses were getting hurt, and with my 2-year-olds most of them are just ready to run now.”

The high point of Buttigieg’s year has been Gypsy Ring, a 5-year-old gelding who finished a close third herein last Sunday’s Grade 1 Nearctic over six furlongs on turf.

Gypsy Ring, who is Ontario-sired, also won the Overskate over seven furlongs on Polytrack and has banked $215,068 through six starts this season.

“He’s made my year,” said Buttigieg, who has been on a bit of a roll lately and will be looking to keep it alive with prospective starters for three stakes races over the next two weekends.

Officeinthevalley will be first up as he seeks his second career stakes win in Saturday’s $125,000 Bunty Lawless, a race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward scheduled for one mile on turf.

Memories Last Love is on target for Sunday’s $150,000 Fanfreluche, a six-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 2-year-old fillies.

And True Executive is pointing for the $125,000 Frost King, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds on Nov. 2.

Officeinthevalley became a stakes winner last year in the Vice Regent, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds, and banked $151,421 with a record of 3-0-0 from 7 starts. The gelding has won once this year, competing under the open second-level allowance terms in an optional $62,500 claimer over seven furlongs of Polytrack

Officeinthevalley then finished second in the Ontario Jockey Club, a seven-furlong turf race for Ontario-foals, and most recently ended fifth, beaten just three lengths when back on Polytrack against Ontario-sired rivals in the 6 1/2-furlong Shepperton.

The Shepperton was run on Aug. 10, and while Buttigieg had considered starting Officeinthevalley in the Sept. 28 Overskate he elected to let Gypsy Ring carry the load.

“He’s had a nice rest now,” said Buttigieg. “I’ve freshened him up a little bit. He runs well fresh.”

Justin Stein retains the mount on Officeinthevalley.

Memories Last Love was sent off at 35-1 for her only start to date, which came in a restricted maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs on Sept. 24, but rallied for a nose victory under David Moran.

“She’d showed me she could run in the mornings, and she’s got a good family on the dam’s side,” said Buttigieg, noting that earlier offspring of Canyon Memories included stakes winners Top Ten List and Tenjectory.

“She’s been really improving a lot in her workouts,” said Buttigieg. “I’ve been breezing her with Officeinthevalley.

“I think she’ll go further. I think she going to be a good filly.”

True Executive also will be moving into stakes company after winning first crack out in a restricted six-furlong maiden race.

“I really think he’s the best 2-year-old I’ve ever trained,” said Buttigieg.

“He had a little shin splint, and then he caught the virus. I didn’t want to push him.”

Unlikely the vast majority of owners and trainers, Buttigieg is unlikely to be found anywhere at Woodbine when those stakes races go postward.

Buttigieg works hard enough, beginning his day here at approximately 4:15 every morning. He then makes the one-hour return trip to his Buttigieg Training Centre in Egbert, where catches up on business with his assistant Rita Schnitzler.

“I was over there on the front side opening day, and that was it,” said Buttigieg, who leaves the afternoon duties to his ontrack assistant, Rick Hayashi. “I love horses, and I love training horses, but I can watch them on TV.

“Most of the people at the track watch them on TV anyway.”

Buttigieg also realized significant revenue from another source this year, as he sold five yearlings at the select yearling sale for a total of $217,000, topped by a $95,000 full brother to Gypsy Ring.

The reserve bids on three more horses he consigned to that venue were not met.

“I’ve got a lot of mares, and I have to sell,” said Buttiegieg. “It worked out well, with the ones that sold, and that ones that didn’t I keep them and race them.”

Point of Emminence breezes

Point of Emminence, preparing for the Oct. 29 Princess Elizabeth Stakes, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 on the training track here Wednesday morning with jockey Jim McAleney in the irons.

The Princess Elizabeth, a $250,000 race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies, will be run over 1 1/16 miles, the distance at which Point of Emminence made a winning debut in a $32,000 maiden claiming race on Oct. 1.

“She couldn’t beat anybody working,” said Reade Baker, who trains the homebred Point of Emminence for Roger Fortier.

“In the afternoon it was like she just kept running at the same speed and, like Jimmy says, she does want to go long.”

Point of Emminence scored by 2 3/4 lengths in that only start with a sustained rally under McAleney.

“I was a little nervous, making that phone call, to see if she’d been claimed,” said Baker.

Fatal Bullet had little

Baker was disappointed last Sunday after watching Fatal Bullet, the 6-year-old gelding he trains for Danny Dion’s Bear Stable, finished 10th of 12 under regular rider Emma-Jayne Wilson over a yielding turf course in the Grade 1 Nearctic.

“Emma said he was done in the first jump,” said Baker. “He couldn’t get hold of the track, and he just followed them around.

“All things being equal, we’ll be back in the Kennedy Road.”

The Kennedy Road, a six-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds and upward that offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000, will be run here Nov. 19.