There will be no holding back Smart Sky on Sunday
Rather than providing answers though, Smart Sky's past performances are filled with questions as the colt took some ten starts to finally break his maiden.
"He's been a bit slow learning," admitted Smart Sky's conditioner Mike Doyle. "He's laid back in one way and in another he can get upset about stuff. He's matured really well this year though."
The young colt put in an impressive performance on the turf at Gulfstream in February recovering from a difficult start to finish seventh beaten less than five lengths. Just a length in front of Smart Sky on that day was Paddy O'Prado who finished third in the Kentucky Derby.
Smart Sky finished just behind Paddy O'Prado earlier this year at Gulfstream
"He just got a little squeeze leaving the gate," recalled Doyle of that lone turf start. "Joe Bravo rode him and he came back and said to me that if he had ridden him before and known him a little bit better that he would would have won. I don't know what to make of that but from what Joe told me he was right about the horse improving. It also tells me that he can run on turf so if he runs well in the Plate we'll go to the Breeder's."
Since returning to Woodbine, Smart Sky has put in a string of solid performances rallying six wide on April 17th to finish second to Bear's Finish Line; a heartbreaking nose loss to top rated Mobilizer on May 8th; a third place finish, beaten less than a length to form Plate contender Captain Canuck; and then finally a breakthrough defeating Miami Deco by a head on Oaks day to notch his first win.
Smart Sky broke his maiden and punched his ticket for the Queen's Plate on Woodbine Oaks day
Doyle believes the horse is finally showing in the afternoon the skills being taught in morning workouts.
"I've been trying to teach him stuff working head to head with other horses and working in company," instructed Doyle. "He was doing it all along but the light just didn't go on for the horse. He's almost won two or three times. The other day when he won at least he dug in and had to fight it out to win. It's probably what will help him most knowing how to fight it out win. He had to make a very long run as they were gong very slow early and I'd told Chantal (Sutherland) that if they were slow to get going with him early and get him in the race."
Smart Sky breaks his maiden going nine furlongs on Oaks day
When watching the race replay (see above) of that first Oaks win, it's clear that Sutherland pushed Smart Sky up to make the pace and the colt responded impressively in the stretch to earn a win after expending a fair bit of energy in the early going.
Doyle believes that maiden win, the Paddy O'Prado encounter and one more race offers proof positive the horse has the talent to win.
"What's also significant is that Mobilizer beat him a nose. We could have won by a nose," exclaimed Doyle. "That's why I ran him a couple more times, just to get it into his mind that he can do it. She (Sutherland) gave him a great ride the other day. She rode him hard and made him get stuck in."
Smart Sky heads to the winners circle for the first time
Another factor in Doyle's favour is Smart Sky's sire Sky Mesa who popped up with a big winner over the Woodbine poly recently. The Three Chimney's stallion Sky Mesa had a popular winner at Woodbine last week when filly Final Mesa romped to a seven length win in the My Dear Stakes.
Doyle recognized the emergence of Sky Mesa and made the call purchase Smart Sky for $85,000.
"Sky Mesa's doing very well at the moment, especially this year," agreed Doyle. "I phoned (Smart Sky's Owner Abbott) Scott and said I saw a couple nice Canadian-breds at the Ocala sale and he was the one I liked the best. Scott was very kind, he never gave me a number of anything. I knew Smart Sky went for $50K as a yearling so I knew in my head he'd cost between $75K and $100K."
Trainer Mike Doyle believes his horse is improving with each start
A Queen's Plate victory on Sunday would be a first for Doyle, his jockey Sutherland and owner Abbott. But if there's an angle for Plate players to hang their hat on it's this - when's the last time an improving horse with Chantal Sutherland in the saddle went to post at odds of 30-1? The answer to that question might soon be part of one of the most popular games in the world.
Will the colours of C. Scott Abbott Racing Stables fly over Woodbine on Sunday?
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Here is the full field with odds for the 2010 Queen's Plate
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Vicar Street (ON) 3/G T Pizarro 126 C Day Phillips 30/1
2 Who We Gunna Call (ON) 3/C G Olguin 126 T Attard 30/1
3 D's Wando (ON) 3/C E Wilson 126 I Black 20/1
4 Dark Cloud Dancer (ON) 3/C J Castellano 126 M R Frostad 15/1
5 Big Red Mike (ON) 3/G E R Da Silva 126 N Gonzalez 6/1
6 Smart Sky (ON) 3/C C Sutherland 126 M J Doyle 30/1
7 Ghost Fleet (ON) 3/C R A Dos Ramos 126 S C Attard 20/1
8 Giant's Tomb (ON) 3/C M E Smith 126 M R Frostad 12/1
9 Mobilizer (ON) 3/C J C Jones 126 R L Attfield 7/2
10 Roan Inish (ON) 3/F D Moran 121 C M Costigan 9/2
11 Hotep (ON) 3/C P Husbands 126 M R Frostad 3/1
12 Mobthewarrior (ON) 3/G E Ramsammy 126 G de Gannes 10/1
13 Moment of Majesty (ON) 3/F R C Landry 121 S Leslie 12/1
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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.
You can catch up on previous Queen's Plate profiles by clicking on the links below:
Queen's Plate Profiler: Hotep Leads Sam-Son Farms Triple Threat
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
One more sleep to the Queen's Plate. Happy handicapping good readers!