12/14/2012 4:17PM

Woodbine: Peyton must maintain focus in Valedictory

Michael Burns
Peyton indicated he's fond of long distance by winning a 1 1/2-mile prep for Sunday's 1 3/4-mile Valedictory.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – If he has his mind on business, then Peyton should be dangerous in Sunday’s $150,000 Valedictory Stakes, the closing-day feature of the Woodbine meet.

The Grade 3 marathon has also lured a sharp Bill Mott-trained shipper from Belmont, Imperial Pippin, who will try to become the first filly to win the race since Stellarina in 1995.

Peyton, who is named after Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, finished up the track in two legs of this year’s Canadian Triple Crown, the Queen’s Plate and Breeders’ Stakes.  Peyton has been on the improve this fall, however, and is coming off a convincing score in the 1 1/2-mile allowance prep for the 1 3/4-mile Valedictory.

“I figured he’d always want to go long,” said trainer Mike Doyle. “When he ran in the Plate, you wouldn’t have guessed it, and when he ran in the Breeders’, you wouldn’t have guessed it, either. He’s a funny horse who’s not always focused the way he should be.”

Doyle said Peyton has trained encouragingly leading up the Valedictory, a race that the personable Irishman has never won.

“He’s in good shape,” said Doyle. “He worked nicely last weekend, with Luis [Contreras], and Luis is going to ride him.”

Imperial Pippin began her career last year in England, where she was competitive in listed stakes company. Her lone win in six starts on this side of the pond came in a one-mile allowance on the dirt at Monmouth.

Imperial Pippin shipped here for the Nov. 3 Maple Leaf Stakes. Sent off at 10-1 in her first start on Polytrack, she rallied wide for second behind a peaking Smart Sting.

Mott was content with her performance in the 1 1/4-mile Maple Leaf, and said she has a license to stay the Valedictory distance.

“She didn’t win, but we thought she ran a good race,” said Mott. “She’s from a staying kind of family, so she may well run on. She’s been competitive at a mile and a half before.”

Heathcote has won 3 of 6 starts, all for trainer Paul Attard. He was a prominent second in a 1 1/4-mile allowance Nov. 3.

“We’ve had this race in mind for a while,” said Attard. “I would have liked to have run him in the prep, but it would have been too close.  We’ve always thought he wants to go all day long. If he has any fault, it’s that he doesn’t quicken down the lane, but he doesn’t slow down either. After the wire, he just keeps going.”  

With the addition of blinkers, Get A Grip was rank throughout the first mile of the prep, yet managed to finish second, slightly more than two lengths behind Peyton.

Quaesitor pressed a slow pace before fading to third as the favorite in the prep. He won his two previous races, including a 1 1/4-mile allowance.

Completing the field are Attendant, Political Fever, Th Original Scotty, and So Long George, who was supplemented for $3,000.

There are 13 races on the Sunday card.