Sunday, July 4, 2010

2010 Queen's Plate: Which Contender Will Step Forward To Meet Her Majesty?

The Queen’s Plate is not going to be an easy race to handicap this year as thirteen horses all try ten furlongs for the first time. In the mix you have one maiden (Vicar Street), two fillies (Roan Inish, Moment of Majesty), three Sam-Son Farms colts (Dark Cloud Dancer, Giant’s Tomb, Hotep) and a distinct lack of pace for the closers to chase down.

Eye of the Leopard won the 2009 Queen's Plate - his full brother Hotep will try to keep it in the family on Sunday

The good news is that when races are this difficult to handicap, the payouts tend to be worth the trouble it takes to find a winner. And it's worth noting that the late pick four at Woodbine is worth a guaranteed $100K starting from race nine - the Queen's Plate is the second leg of the guaranteed late pick four. Also on tap on Sunday's card is the G2 Highlander Stakes featuring Jungle Wave and Field Commission; and the G3 Singspiel featuring Spice Route and Perfect Shower.

The Woodbine Entertainment Group website provides historical Trackus Charts for all of its races and that’s a good place to begin in terms of comparing last starts as most of the Queen's Plate contenders raced nine furlongs on June 13th in the Plate Trial or Woodbine Oaks. As well, contenders Who We Gunna Call (Race 1) and Smart Sky (Race 4) both raced on this same card at the same nine-furlong distance.

Emile Ramsammy, Emma-Jayne Wilson, Jono Jones and Richard Dos Ramos battle for the Queen's Plate trophy

By analyzing the Trackus statistics provided at the 1 1/8 Mile finish, overzealous punters can sort out how long it took each horse to travel the nine furlongs; their peak and average speed; distance traveled and the delta difference (measured in feet) in distance run between each horse and the eventual winner.

Upon review of the results of the Plate Trial won by Big Red Mike in a time of 1:50.31, a few interesting stats appear:

1. Giant’s Tomb and Mobthewarrior raced 61 and 51 feet further than the winner respectively. That’s a significant amount of added distance.

2. Place finisher Mobilizer actually raced seven feet LESS than the winner. The caveat to go along with that stat is that Mobilizer hugged the rail, a portion of the track that many handicappers believe was dead on the day and detracted from Mobilizer’s performance.

3. The peak speed reached for any horse in the Plate Trial was 39.2 by Mobthewarrior. The Greg De Gannes trainee also maintained the highest average speed of 36mph. When you compare those numbers against those of the fillies in the Woodbine Oaks it was shocking to read that the LOWEST peak speed of any horse in the race was 39.3MPH by Moment of Majesty. The ladies were running faster to a point…but a quick look at the average speed tells the tale as only Oaks winner Roan Inish (35.9MPH) and Moment of Majesty (35.7MPH) were able to carry their speed effectively.

Mobthewarrior has carried his speed effectively over a distance of ground

What does all this mean, if anything? For one thing, I think it proves that both fillies are capable of competing with the boys and winning this race. Beyond that, there’s a lot of interpretation involved as many Woodbine insiders believe Mobilizer is going to win trainer Roger Attfield his record ninth Queen’s Plate as Mobilizer nearly stole the Plate Trial on a dead rail.

Let’s take a look at the contenders:

1. Vicar Street (D'Alimonte and Annecchini)
Trainer: Catherine Day Phillips
Jockey: Tyler Pizarro
Odds: 30-1

Vicar Street will try to break his maiden in style

A maiden hasn't won the Queen’s Plate since Scatter the Gold in 2000. The Catherine Day Phillips charge opened his 2010 campaign finishing third behind Artic Fern and Dark Cloud Dancer. (Artic Fern would have been the Plate favourite had he not gone down to a shoulder injury late last week.) This Vicar colt has plenty of talent and was only beaten a neck by Hotep as a two year-old. The horse hasn’t raced since May 28th but a recent work of 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 suggests the horse is coming into the race in good form. Don’t let the post position scare you from using Vicar Street on the bottom of your exotics – the Plate won’t be as roughly run as the Kentucky Derby.

2. Who We Gunna Call (Castle Peak Farm and Construction)
Trainer: Tino Attard
Jockey: Gerry Olguin
Odds: 30-1

Who We Gunna Call to try and dial up a first Stakes score

Handicappers looking for odds this Sunday might look no further than a horse whose daddy, Ghost Zapper, was 2004's Champion Older Male and Horse of the Year after winning the G1 Woodward and the Breeders' Cup Classic - and just one further step back to grandpa Awesome Again who was a Queen's Plate winner in 1997. But trainer Tino Attard might prefer those long shot Plate day punters reference the dam of Who We Gunna Call, Touch Dial, who won the Woodbine Oaks for the conditioner in 1999 under jockey Mickey Walls. This horse is peaking at the right time and should have no trouble with the distance. Is he fast enough?

For more on Who We Gunna Call, read the TDH report:Queen's Plate Profiler: Who We Gunna Call Won't Mind The Long Distance

3. D's Wando (D's Stable, Riviera Racing Stable, Yorktech Racing Stable)
Trainer: Ian Black
Jockey: Emma-Jayne Wilson (1 win- 2007)
Odds: 20-1

D's Wando will hope all his hard work in the morning pays off on Sunday

His daddy won the Canadian Triple Crown in 2003. Trainer Ian Black and jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson combined to win the Queen’s Plate with Mike Fox in 2007. D’s Wando is an exciting deep closer who won’t be on your screen until the final eighth of a mile. Draw a line through his poor effort in the Plate Trial as the race lacked the required pace. D’s Wando will be coming from out of the clouds on Sunday and his previous Beyer figures suggest 20-1 is a huge overlay.

For more on D's Wando, read the TDH report:Queen's Plate Profiler: D's Wando A Wonder For DiPaola

4. Dark Cloud Dancer
Trainer: Mark Frostad
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Odds: 15-1

Dark Cloud Dancer is ready to face the competition

He might just be the best of the three Sam-Son entrants. His mum, Dancethruthedawn, won the Woodbine Oaks and Queen's Plate in 2001. And he's a grandson of Dance Smartly (Triple Crown winner in 1991) plus you get the bonus of jockey Javier Castellano in the irons. With the lone speed of Big Red Mike to stalk, the race sets up perfectly for Dark Cloud Dancer if he can overcome his inexperience.

5. Big Red Mike (Terra Racing Stable)
Trainer: Nick Gonzalez
Jockey: Eurico Rosa da Silva (1 win - 2009)
Odds: 6-1

Big Red Mike might pose for more photos Sunday in the winners circle

Big Red Mike sent jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva down to the polytrack in the post parade of the Plate Trial. The menacing colt was full of himself on that afternoon and made a stunning presence in the paddock despite the on-track shenanigans. He should have the lead to himself once again in the Queen’s Plate as Artic Fern and Embur’s Song are not in the mix. Can he last the full ten furlongs?

For more on Big Red Mike read the TDH report: Queen's Plate Profiler: Big Red Mike, Essence Hit Man and Joey's Best

6. Smart Sky (C. Scott Abbott Racing Stable)
Trainer: Mike Doyle
Jockey: Chantal Sutherland
Odds: 30-1

Smart Sky is ready to fly

Smart Sky finished just a length behind Paddy O’Prado this past February in a nine furlong turf tilt at Gulfstream. That’s one heckuva reference point. He was beaten a nose by highly regarded Mobilizer on May 8th and broke his maiden last time out on Plate Trial day. An improving horse with Chantal Sutherland in the saddle and odds of 30-1 is not something I see everyday (or any day) at Woodbine. In the mix.

For more on Smart Sky read the TDH report:Queen's Plate Profiler: Is Smart Sky The Answer?

7. Ghost Fleet (Jim Dandy Stable)
Trainer: Sid Attard
Jockey: Richard Dos Ramos
Odds: 20-1

Ghost Fleet has been putting up some scary fast workouts

Ghost Fleet is the workout warrior of Queen’s Plate week. The speedy son of Arch worked five furlongs in 59 flat on June 28th and will be making his third start of the season in the Queen’s Plate which means the horse should be at peak form. It’s uncertain if the horse is meant to go ten furlongs but he did perform well in the nine furlong Coronation Futurity where he finished fourth just a length behind Canada’s champion two year-old Hollinger.

8. Giant's Tomb (Sam-Son Farm)
Trainer: Mark Frostad (4 wins)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1 win - 1997)
Odds: 12-1

Handsome Giant's Tomb will look to bury his Plate competition

This plodding son of Awesome Again never seems to get the pace he needs to close effectively. The Queen’s Plate isn’t looking to be any different with only Big Red Mike promising to be on the lead. With Patrick Husbands preferring to pilot Hotep, jockey Mike Smith will take over aboard Giant’s Tomb. A recent workout pitted all three Sam-Son entrants against each other with Hotep squeezing through before the wire to “win”. Both Hotep and Dark Cloud Dancer appeared to gallop out better but the Plate's ten furlongs seems to favour Giant's Tomb. You can watch that workout by clicking here.

9. Mobilizer (Stronach Stables)
Trainer: Roger Attfield (8 Plate wins)
Jockey: Jono Jones (1 win - 2008)
Odds: 7-2

Can Mobilizer kick start a record ninth Queen's Plate celebration for Roger Attfield?

The hunch bet of the day. Mobilizer’s papa, the 2005 Epsom Derby winner Motivator, stands at the Royal Stud, which is owned by the visiting Queen Elizabeth. Mobilizer broke his maiden by besting Smart Sky and rallied admirably up a slow rail when second in the Plate Trial to Big Red Mike. The horse is impeccably bred via the Northern Dancer line and his trainer has won this race eight times - a ninth win would break the record and wouldn’t it be fitting from post position nine?

10. Roan Inish (Robert Costigan)
Trainer: Carolyn Costigan
Jockey: Davy Moran
Odds: 9-2

Roan Inish will try and double up on her Oaks victory with another Canadian Classic

Trainer Carolyn Costigan gallops this filly herself in the morning but the jockey Davy Moran is imported from Ireland. The last time Moran was at Woodbine he guided Roan Inish to a rousing win in the Woodbine Oaks by out dueling Moment of Majesty. According to a recent Tweet by Costigan, “Roan Inish felt like a German engineered vehicle today on the track...” Fillies have won the Queen’s Plate previously and Roan Inish would be no surprise to gallop home first.

For more on Roan Inish read the TDH report - The Ish on Carolyn Costigan, Twitter and the Training of Roan Inish

11. Hotep (Sam-Son Farm)
Trainer: Mark Frostad
Jockey: Patrick Husbands (1 win - 2003)
Odds: 3-1

Sam-Son Farms groom Chico will lead Hotep to the walking ring and possibly the winners circle

The morning-line favourite is a full brother of last year's Plate winner Eye of the Leopard, though Hotep is a much smaller horse than his brother. Hotep was on the U.S Triple Crown Trail earlier this season but faded badly in the Louisiana Derby. Upon arriving back at Woodbine, Hotep easily won the Wando Stakes and was a solid second to Todd Pletcher’s Exhi in the Marine Stakes. He’s had plenty of time to prepare for the Queen’s Plate and will be a handful if he can get the distance.

Readers can gain a little more insight into the Sam-Son Farms trio of Hotep, Giant's Tomb and Dark Cloud Dancer by reading my earlier review: Queen's Plate Profiler: Hotep Leads Sam-Son Farms Triple Threat

12. Mobthewarrior (Andrew Fredericks)
Trainer: Greg De Gannes
Jockey: Emile Ramsammy (2 wins — 1996, 2006)
Odds: 10-1

Mobthewarrior ain't backing down without a fight

A determined Mobthewarrior surprised everyone but his trainer with a third place finish in the Plate Trial at odds of 11-1.
"He didn't surprise me," grinned the conditioner to TDH this past week on the Woodbine backstretch. "By the numbers he was just as good as any of the other horses. It was just a case of what type of trip he got. It was a race that had no pace in it and he enjoys having a little speed to run at which I think we'll get in the Plate. He was a little closer than I figured he would be (in the Plate Trial) but that's alright. He has a talented rider who knows the horse very well and we left it in his capable hands."

The connections are confident this horse can get the job done. Jockey Emile Ramsammy has won the Plate twice previously and is having an excellent 2010 meet at Woodbine. For more information on Mobthewarrior, review the TDH report - Queen's Plate Profiler: Mobthewarrior Ready For Battle

13. Moment of Majesty (Don Meehan, Curtis Joseph and Sue Leslie)
Trainer: Sue Leslie
Jockey: Robert Landry
Odds: 12-1

Moment of Majesty will be out to avenge her narrow Oaks loss to Roan Inish

Moment of Majesty is owned by former NHL goaltender Curtis Joseph in partnership with his agent Don Meehan and trainer Sue Leslie. The connections stepped up with a $25,000 supplementary fee to get into the Plate. Despite what you might think after looking at past performances, the connections want this horse to be a stalker. Jockey Rob Landry has been forced to put the filly on the lead previously due to ludicrously slow opening quarters. Given this outside post position, it is likely that Moment of Majesty will finally get her chance to stalk.

For more on Moment of Majesty read the TDH report: Ex-NHL Goalie Curtis Joseph Hopes to Score in the $500K Woodbine Oaks with Moment of Majesty


1. Mobilizer – Classic breeding. A confident trainer. And he won’t be on the rail this time.
2. Dark Cloud Dancer – I don’t think we’ve seen the top of this one’s potential quite yet. Would not surprise me if he won.
3. Roan Inish - She has the stamina and tenacity to be in the mix late.

To be perfectly honest, this race is WIDE OPEN. There's an argument to be made for nearly every horse and outsiders such as Mobthewarrior or D's Wando could easily come flying through the stretch to earn the victory. Hotep is a talented colt with the speed to rally past this field. I'll be using all of the above in combinations of what will unfortunately be an expensive late pick four ticket.

Follow along throughout the day as I will be Tweeting live from the Woodbine paddock.

Best of luck to all the entrants and let's get 'em all home safe!

Don't forget - the bidding is now open for autographed Queen's Plate worn saddle cloths.

The good folks at LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation are teaming up with Woodbine to auction off Queen's Plate worn saddle cloths that will be autographed by the riding jockey following the race and then auctioned exclusively on eBay. The opening bid for each saddlecloth is $250.

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Saturday's Achievement Stakes featured a small field of former Plate contenders including the pacey Essence Hit Man and closer Race for Gold in a six furlong sprint. Trainer Audre Cappuccitti agonized for weeks over whether or not to stretch out the speedy Essence Hit Man for the ten furlong Queen's Plate but wisely decided to enter in the Achievement where her big horse sprinted though fractions of 21.86, 44.17, 56.53 and 1:10.01 to easily wire the field. Race for Gold rallied late for place and Doctor Jack was third.

Essence Hit Man snipes another win at Woodbine

The turf feature on Saturday was the $100K Charlie Barley Stakes for three year-olds racing one mile over the E.P. Taylor course. Only five horses made the gate as Kentucky bred So Elite took on a strong pair of former Plate contenders in favoured Stormy Lord and Born To Act.

Born To Act was slow leaving the gate under jockey Rob Landry but quickly moved up along the rail behind a front-running Stormy Lord. The Ian Black trainee hit the opening quarter in 24.40 with So Elite sitting last but less than four lengths from the leader. Stormy Lord led into the stretch and with two furlongs to run So Elite began a wide move down the centre of the firm turf course squeezing R Shining Hope into Stormy Lord with his run. In the final fourty yards So Elite pulled away and Stormy Lord found another gear to burst ahead of R Shining hope to claim second.

So Elite wins the Charlie Barley Stakes

Also featured on Saturday was the Clarendon Stakes as a full field of twelve Ontario-bred two year-olds traveled five and a half furlongs on the polytrack. Molinaro Handsome led the way with an opening quarter in :22:02 and the half in :45:19, as he opened several lengths on the field turning for home. But Todd Pletcher's Sensational Slam rallied greenly down the middle of the track while another first time starter, Naval Attack, prepared for battle on the outside.

The duo overtook Molinaro Handsome and Sensational Slam would win by a neck over Naval Attack in a time of 1:04.78. Molinaro Handsome held on for third.

Sensation Slam hits one out of the park in the Clarendon

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As always, you can keep track of the latest goings on in the world of horse racing by clicking into my Woodbine News page or backtrack though information on Sunday's contenders by clicking into my Queen's Plate contender page.

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