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Get a Grip goes in Valedictory for nine-year-old owner

Joshua Attard, nine-year-old son of trainer Kevin Attard, sends out Get a Grip in Sunday's Grade 3, C$150,000 Valedictory, the last stakes of the Woodbine campaign on the final card of the 2012 season.

Get a Grip, a five-year-old gelded son of Royal Applause, heads into the 1 3/4-mile Polytrack feature off two second-place performances, including in the Valedictory prep on November 23.

His young owner will be on-hand to watch the bay compete in the marathon event.

"My son is the world's biggest racing fan," the elder Attard said. "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 Attard, who has 18 Woodbine wins as of December 13, 20 overall, along with more than $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 the winner.

"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 of the two-time winner from 27 career starts, who also has eight seconds and one third.

A field of nine is scheduled to line up in the Valedictory, with Imperial Pippin, the only filly in the bunch, taking on seven geldings and one colt as she goes for her first stakes score.

Originally campaigned in England by John Gosden, the bay daughter of Empire Maker make her U.S. debut under the tutelage of Bill Mott at Gulfstream Park earlier this spring and was most recently second in the 1 1/4-mile Maple Leaf on Woodbine's synthetic.

Other contenders in the Valedictory include Quaesitor, third in the Breeders' Stakes in early August, and Toronto Cup third Attendant.


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