Friday, July 2, 2010

Queen's Plate Profiler: Hotep Leads Sam-Son Triple Threat

When it comes to analyzing the Queen's Plate, handicappers go back and forth trying to sort out if the pace scenario will better benefit a front-runner, a stalker or a closer. In Sunday's Gallop For The Guineas, Sam-Son Farms conditioner Mark Frostad has effectively tapped the "ALL" button with his three colts Dark Cloud Dancer, Hotep and Giant's Tomb.

Patrick Husbands has chosen Hotep from three prominent Sam-Son entrants

Frostad doesn't disagree with that analysis.

"That's why it's alright to run them all in the same race," explained Frostad. "They're not going to kill each other off. Giant's Tomb is definitely come from behind. If it's a real fast pace he'll be a factor I would think. Hotep can rate pretty well and same with Dark Cloud Dancer. We'll see how it pans out. Hopefully everybody gets a trip."

Dark Cloud Dancer would like to get his photo taken Sunday as well

Of the trio, Dark Cloud Dancer is the most lightly raced with a win and two seconds in just three starts. However, his pedigree suggests the son of Storm Cat is well suited to the Queen's Plate.

"He's a very nice horse. His dam (Dancethruthedawn) won the Plate," agreed Frostad. "I have no doubt he'll get the mile and a quarter. The only problem with him is seasoning. Hopefully he gets a good easy trip."

Dark Cloud Dancer stares down his shed row at stalls belonging to Giant's Tomb, Hotep and Grand Adventure

The colt has been near the lead in all three lifetime starts which include a solid second place effort first out against the now injured Artic Fern on May 16th; a maiden breaking performance at seven furlongs on May 16th; and most recently a second place finish going a mile and eighth that earned Dark Cloud Dancer an 81 Beyer in a race where the colt hung late.

Javier Castellano will ride Dark Cloud Dancer in the Queen's Plate and the jock has some history with the horse having worked the colt earlier this year at Keeneland. Patrick Husbands was aboard for all three previous starts.

Dark Cloud Dancer hopes to win the Queen's Plate by a nose

Giant's Tomb will also have the benefit of a new jockey on Sunday when Mike Smith flies in to Woodbine to pick up the mount. Frostad is hoping that a little of Smith's magic touch with Zenyatta might rub off on his late-running colt.

Giant's Tomb shows us his good side

"He's a good money rider," stated Frostad about the veteran Smith. "He won the Belmont this year and he rides Zenyatta so I guess it's alright to let him on our horse. He rode very well in the Plate last year (finishing second on Mr. Foricos Two U) and he'll suit the horse. He can come from behind and is experienced that way. A top rider."

Fans of Giant's Tomb will hope Husbands made the wrong choice

While Smith will give added oomph to the stock of Giant's Tomb, it seems that once again the colt is entered in a race that lacks the pace to suit his closing style. This plodding son of Awesome Again will have to hope another horse steps up to take on the lone speed, on paper at least, of Plate Trial winner Big Red Mike.

A curious Giant's Tomb eyes the camera

Frostad was pleased with the efforts of Giant's Tomb in the Plate Trial when Husbands and the chestnut colt closed seven-wide to finish fourth.

"He ran a lot further than everyone else," said Frostad. "If you go by the sheets he got the best number in either the Plate Trial or the Oaks. Whether that means a whole lot depends on if you're a real advocate or fan of the sheets. He certainly fits in that group. Everything would have to go his way but it just might well go his way."

Giant's Tomb always makes a lovely paddock presentation

Upon review of the historical Trackus Charts for the June 13th Plate Trial (Race 8) it stands out that Giant’s Tomb and Mobthewarrior raced 61 and 51 feet further than the winner respectively. That’s a significant amount of added distance. (For added analysis, you can download a free copy of the Thorograph Sheets for the Queen's Plate by clicking here)

Hotep and his groom Chico

The likely pick of the three Sam-Son entrants is Hotep who won the Wando Stakes on May 8th. The son of A.P. Indy is a full brother to 2009 Queen's Plate winner Eye of the Leopard. Hotep is an excitable horse and gets extremely charged on race day. Last time out, the colt finished second to the excellent Exhi in the mile and a sixteenth Marine Stakes.

"He was coming back three weeks weeks off the Wando," recalled Frostad. "He needs a little more time before a race as he gets pretty revved up for a race and we went to the Marine which gave us five weeks to prepare for the Plate. I think he'll be set to go."

A recent six furlong 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 stronger than Giant's Tomb. You can watch the workout by clicking here.

Frostad is quick to point out that Hotep is a very different horse from his Plate winning brother.

"He's a nice horse and very fit. The only questions is will he get a mile and a quarter," said Frostad. "His brother did it, but his brother was a different type altogether. He (Eye of the Leopard) was 17 hands and had more of a grinding style. This guy has actually got some pretty good kick. He's more difficult to ride than our other horses. You have to get him settled and wait."

That Husbands has chosen Hotep from the trio of entrants is telling. And without getting too far ahead of ourselves, Frostad does believe the horse has some turf pedigree for the Breeder's Stakes should his charge fare well in the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown.

"He's out of a Smart Strike mare (Eye of the Sphinx) who was second in the Wonder Where," stated Frostad. "Turf shouldn't be a problem.

A shy Hotep emerges from the shadows

Sam-Son Farms will be trying to win its sixth Queen's Plate on Sunday and Frostad will be hoping that one of his troika of thoroughbreds will join Regal Intention, Dance Smartly, Scatter The Gold, Dancethruthedawn and Eye of the Leopard in the record books - and Frostad won't care if the trip to the winners circle is by stalking or closing just as long as he gets there.

Hotep won't be celebrating in front of an empty grandstand this Sunday

* * *

There is no shortage of news stories making the rounds at Woodbine this week.

First the negative:

A Bloodhorse.Com report advises that owner Bruno Shickedanz has been banned from Woodbine following the tragic death of 13 yo Wake At noon earlier this week:

The ban came three days after Wake At Noon, the 2002 Canadian Horse of the Year, was euthanized after breaking down on the Woodbine training track. Wake At Noon, who was 13, had been sent from owner Bruno Schickedanz’ Select Stud near Ketteby, Ontario, for a workout.

"We have completed our investigation, and as far as the discussions I've had with the various people involved, I think this is the right approach," Jamie Martin, Woodbine’s executive vice president of racing, told the Form. "The horses (Schickedanz) has racing today and tomorrow will be allowed to run, but we are no longer accepting entries for any of his horses, and he's going to have to move his horses off the backstretch."

The Ontario Racing Commission is investigating the incident.

Tom Marino, who was Wake At Noon's trainer of record at the time of the breakdown, has been ruled off for an indefinite period, according to the Form.

On July 2nd, Bill Tallon reported for ESPN.Comthat jockey Kent Desormeaux failed a breathalyzer on Canada Day and was removed from his mount on Hold Me Back in the Dominion Day Stakes. (Jockey Tyler Pizarro reaped the benefits and won the $125K event.)

"I've never been so embarrassed," Desormeaux said Friday morning at Belmont Park where he was scheduled to ride three horses. "Very unprofessional."
Desormeaux said he had a drink the night before at a birthday party for a friend, but did not drink on the plane ride from New York to Canada.
The maximum allowed under the breathalyzer test, which is administered by clerk of the scales Bobby Bertrand and is required to be taken by all jockeys and racing officials prior to the day's racing, is .02 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.
Ontario Racing Commission stewards confirmed that Desormeaux had blown the .02 maximum when he arrived at approximately 12:20 p.m. and again when retested 15 minutes later.
Desormeaux had until one hour prior to post time, which was scheduled for 4:34 p.m., to take the test.
"Once you've presented yourself, and you've blown, there's no going back," said an ORC steward who requested anonymity.

Hold Me Back wins the Dominion Day Stakes under Tyler Pizarro

On the positive side, a bundle of Queen's Plate stories are piling up in the papers as excitement builds for the 2010 Gallop For The Guineas.

Jeff Blair of the Globe & Mail filed a report on Smart Sky.

Bill Tallon of the Daily Racing Form piped up on Vicar Street's road to the Plate.

The busy Tallon also reported in the DRF that Who We Gunna Call, Mobilizer and Ghost Fleet will wear blinkers in the Plate.

Check out my Woodbine News page for more racing stories.

* * *

The good folks at LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation are teaming up with Woodbine to auction off Queen's Plate worn saddle cloths to raise money for the charitable organization that provides homes for ex-racehorses. A news release from Woodbine Entertainment Group advises:

Each of the starters in the 151st edition of the Plate will wear customized saddlecloths that will be autographed by the riding jockey following the race and then auctioned exclusively on eBay during the week of July 5-July 11 with all proceeds going to LongRun Retirement Society (

The opening bid for each saddlecloth is $250.

“This is a particularly significant Queen's Plate with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 and His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh in attendance,” said Jane Holmes, Woodbine Entertainment Group’s VP Corporate Affairs. “We expect the saddlecloths will be a valuable collector’s item and with the number of horses in the race, they will generate significant revenue for LongRun.”

Vicki Pappas, Chairperson of LongRun, also expects another huge response to the highly sought-after collectible saddlecloths.

“We and our horses at LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society are most fortunate to be operating within the Ontario racing industry, perhaps the most compassionate and generous group of horse people anywhere,” said Pappas.

“Woodbine has always been a leader in assisting with the placement of our deserving athletes once their racing careers are over,” continued Pappas. “The innovative idea of auctioning off those beautiful saddlecloths worn by entrants in our most prestigious race, The Queen’s Plate, was hatched three years ago by WEG’s Jane Holmes and Steven Koch.”

A table staffed by LongRun will be set up at the Queen’s Plate breakfast (July 1) with last year’s winning saddlecloth (Eye of the Leopard) on display.

There will also be a LongRun kiosk set up in Woodbine’s Hall of Fame area with the Eye of the Leopard saddlecloth on display, along with information on the bidding.

What a great gift one of these saddle cloths would make for a fan of Woodbine horse racing. Bid often and be generous!

* * *

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.

You can catch up on previous Queen's Plate profiles by clicking on the links below:

Queen's Plate Profiler: Mobthewarrior Ready For Battle

Queen's Plate Profiler: Who We Gunna Call Won't Mind The Long Distance

Queen's Plate Profiler: D's Wando A Wonder For DiPaola

Ex-NHL Goalie Curtis Joseph Hopes to Score in the $500K Woodbine Oaks with Moment of Majesty

The Ish on Carolyn Costigan, Twitter and the Training of Roan Inish

Queen's Plate Profiler: Big Red Mike, Essence Hit Man and Joey's Best

Two more sleeps to the Queen's Plate. Happy handicapping good readers!

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