9-Year-Old Owner Has Runner in Valedictory

Joshua Attard and his father, trainer Kevin Attard, pulling hard for Woodbine win.

Joshua Attard, 9-year-old son of trainer Kevin Attard, sends out Get A Grip in the $150,000 Valedictory Stakes (Can-III) Dec. 16, the last stake of the Woodbine campaign on the final card of the 2012 season.

Irish-bred Get A Grip, a 5-year-old gelded son of Royal Applause, heads into the 1 3/4-mile main track feature off two second-place performances, including in the Valedictory prep, a 1 1/2-mile allowance race Nov. 23.

His young owner will be on hand to watch the bay compete in the marathon event, carded as race 11 on the 13-race program.

"My son is the world's biggest racing fan," said Kevin. "I'll come home after the races and he's on my iPad looking at historical charts and other racing stuff. He'll have 15 pages open, all devoted to racing. I loved racing when I was a kid, too, but nothing like this. And he just loves this horse."

A victory on Sunday would be the ideal early Christmas gift for both father and son.

"It's been a bit of a trying year, so to go out with a bang on the last day of racing, I don't think you could ask for anything better," said Kevin, who has 18 Woodbine wins as of Dec. 13, and 20 overall, along with over $1 million in purse earnings. "We're going to give it our best shot."

Two starts ago, in a 1 3/4-mile race over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, Get A Grip rallied strongly down the stretch, finishing three-quarters of a length behind Serious Indeed. But with just two wins -- and eight seconds -- from 27 lifetime starts, Get A Grip's finish was no surprise his trainer.

"Finishing second, that's part of the problem, isn't it?" laughed Attard, whose father and fellow conditioner, Tino, won the 1991 Valedictory with Cozzene's Prince and the 2001 edition with Queensgate. "He does not like to win. That race on the turf, when he lost to Serious Indeed, he had every chance to go by, but didn't. That's why we put blinkers on for the last start.

"Part of the problem is getting him to conserve energy at the start," he continued. "He can be a little rank early and that doesn't help his chances. We like him to have some speed to run at. A good, honest pace helps him. It looks like we'll have that on Sunday. Physically, he couldn't be doing any better. We just have to hope he's not too cranked up before the race."

Attard, who won this year's Fanfreluche Stakes with Surtsey, won't mind if that's the case, at least for Get A Grip's connections, after the race.

"That would be perfect," he said. "Last day of racing, last stake, and you win it. That sounds like an ideal finish to me."

Davy Moran will be in the irons.