Monday, April 25, 2011

Top 25 Contenders For The 2011 Queen's Plate

Sunday June 26th, 2011 will mark the 152nd running of the Queen's Plate - the longest continuously run stakes race in North America. The race is restricted to Three-Year-Olds foaled in Canada competing for a purse worth $1,000,000.

Big Red Mike and Eurico Rosa da Silva winning the 2010 Queen's Plate

As in 2010, I will be competing in the Media Division of Woodbine's Queen's Plate Fantasy Challenge. The contest starts on April 27th, 2011 and is open to both Canadian and U.S based racing fans. The contest requires competitors to select ten horses from a list of current Queen's Plate nominees as well as three jockeys. Your stable horses receive purse dollars in the same amount of what they earn in the race. This goes for any race. The jockeys earn dollars also - in the amount of 10 per cent of what their mount's purse share. In other words, if you correctly select the rider that guides the $1 million Queen's Plate winner home (worth $600K to the winner) it will be worth $60,000 to your stable.

Will Queen'splatekitten win the 2011 Queen's Plate?

This is a difficult contest to figure out as many of the true top contenders for this event such as Elite Alex, Bear's Chill and the filly Joyful Victory are not yet nominated and therefore not eligible for the competition.

We'll certainly have a stronger idea of the true contenders for the Queen's Plate after the running of the Queenston Stakes on May 7th. To see the nominees for the Queenston (including: Bear's Chill, Black N Beauty and others) for this event, click here.

I submitted my picks this morning for the challenge and came up with:

1. Queen'splatekitten
2. Black N Beauty
3. Sensational Slam
4. Oh Canada
5. Inglorious (F)
6. Roxy Gap (F)
7. Bowman's Causeway
8. Enduring Star
9. Good Better Best
10. Check Your Soul

1. Patrick Husbands
2. Tyler Pizarro
3. Richard Dos Ramos

Oh Canada wins the Woodstock Stakes over Black N Beauty

To assist readers - and myself - in finding the likely contenders for the mile and a quarter Queen's Plate, I will maintain an updated "Top 25" list of Canadian-bred three year-olds and track their recent works and results. My list will not be limited to the nominated contenders so that I might provide a more thorough breakdown of true contenders. The list will include fillies such as Inglorious and Joyful Victory that might try to be this year's Roan Inish or Moment of Majesty and take on the boys in the Plate.

I'm always interested in hearing your opinions on potential contenders, so if the horse you like is not on the list, please email me.

For an idea of what type of features will soon be available on this website, here are a few links to past blog posts profiling contenders from the 2010 Queen's Plate:

June 25, 2010 - D's Wando A Wonder For DiPaola

June 10, 2010 - Ex-NHL Goalie Curtis Joseph Hopes to Score in the $500K Woodbine Oaks

May 27, 2010 - The Ish on Carolyn Costigan, Twitter and the Training of Roan Inish

April 22, 2010 - Queen's Plate Profiler: Big Red Mike, Essence Hit Man and Joey's Best

March 11, 2010 - Queen's Plate Profiler - Captain Canuck

February 3, 2010 - 2010 Queen's Plate Contenders Review

Triple Dead Heat's 2011 Queen's Plate Contenders

Owner: Mill House - Breeder: Ken & Sarah Ramsey- Trainer: Todd Pletcher - Jockey: John Velazquez, Eurico Rosa da Silva

The aptly named son of Kitten's Joy debuted October 30th, 2010 on the turf at Woodbine chasing home an impressive Sam-Son Farms winner in Thespian's Fate in a one mile event. A little more than a month later, then trainer Brian Lynch switched the colt over to the polytrack where he romped a mile and a sixteenth MSW by five and a quarter lengths.

Breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey sold Queen'splatekitten to Mill House over the winter who moved the improving fellow into the care of trainer Todd Pletcher; it was a move that caused some to tout the horse as a Kentucky Derby contender. QPK's three-year-old debut was a winning one as he closed impressively on a slow pace to win an eight furlong turf tilt in a time of 1:36.73. That effort propelled QPK into the G3 Palm Beach Stakes where he finished a closing second to pace-controlling Joes Blazing Aaron. In his final shot at making the graded earnings to get into the Kentucky Derby starting gate, QPK tried his luck in the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland but stumbled at the start before a difficult trip that saw him finish seventh.

2. Bear's Chill
Owner: Bear Stables - Breeder: Glenview Stables LTD - Trainer: Reade Baker - Jockey: Emile Ramsammy

'Chill' as he's known around the barn was on fire leaving the starting gate in his last outing at Woodbine, rocketing around the polytrack in splits of 23.13, 45.46 and 1:09.10 to complete a dominating seven furlong allowance performance in 1:21.35. The son of Artie Schiller won by three and a quarter lengths and galloped out as if he wanted another go around. No one got close to the colt who earned a 92 Beyer figure for his efforts.

Bear's Chill is owned by Danny Dion's Bear Stables who purchased the colt for $78,914 out of the 2009 Canadian September yearling sale. His next start should be the Queenston Stakes on May 7th.

Bear's Chill...just chillin'

3. Elite Alex
Owner: Elite Alex, LLC - Breeder: Allison Register - Trainer: Tim Ritchey - Jockey: Calvin Borel

The son of Afleet Alex was a prominent player in the prep races for the Kentucky Derby competing in the G3 Southwest (3rd, 2 1/4 lengths back of Archarcharch), G2 Louisiana Derby (4th, 4 lengths back of Pants On fire) before faltering to a disappointing ninth place finish in the G1 Arkansas Derby. Given the steady stream of graded efforts, it's hard to believe he's only even won at the maiden level. His only other start was an allowance event at Oaklawn that saw Elite Alex cross his feet at the gate before rallying to a second place finish, beaten just a head.

There is no question that this is a good horse but given the recent string of difficult races, and that recent lacklustre result, it would seem the colt is due a freshening before figuring out if he can handle the Woodbine polytrack.

Owner: Zayat Stables - Breeder: Adena Springs - Trainer: Dale Romans - Jockey: Tyler Pizarro

The beauty broke his maiden in his third and final two-year-old start traveling six and a half furlongs at illustrious Churchill Downs. The win came after two solid efforts at Belmont Park, the second of which was a hard-trying second to Brethren, a well regarded WinStar horse.

Black N Beauty opened his three-year-old campaign at Gulfstream Park on January 7th with a driving win over the dirt course completing the one mile outing in 1:37.48. That promising win saw the Devil His Due colt try the G3 Holy Bull where he finished a respectable fifth in a race won by likely Kentucky Derby favourite Dialed In. On February 26th at Gulfstream, Jockey Kent Desormeaux pulled the colt up in the G2 Hutcheson Stakes when steadied in the stretch and the horse was subsequently freshened. On his return to the races on April 16th, Black N Beauty started sluggishly in the Woodstock Stakes at Woodbine before gathering momentum under a patient ride from jockey Tyler Pizarro to rally home second behind Oh Canada.

5. Sensational Slam
Owner: Bobby Flay - Breeder: Hill N Dale Farms - Trainer: Todd Pletcher - Jockey: Patrick Husbands

A multiple stakes winner at Woodbine having captured the Clarendon and Vandal to open his career, Sensational Slam ended his two-year-old campaign on a down note finishing ninth in the G3 With Anticipation at Saratoga.

The Todd Pletcher trainee wintered at Palm Meadows and returned to winning ways first time out as a three-year-old taking the Fred "Cappy" Caposella Stakes at Aqueduct closing from last place in the six furlong sprint on March 5th. Three breezes and five weeks later, the Sensational Slam colt finished dead last in the nine furlong G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland.

While there may be a question of stamina to answer, Sensational Slam is undefeated over the Woodbine polytrack and that keeps him in contention for the time being.

Owner: Frank Di Giulio Jr. - Breeder: Frank Di Giulio Jr. - Trainer: Bob Tiller - Jockey: Omar Moreno

This patriotic Frank Di Giulio Jr. homebred won at first asking despite being checked at the eighth pole in six furlong polytrack outing at Woodbine on November 21, 2010. The Proud Citizen gelding out of Oh Livia D, was a tenacious second in his subsequent start giving up the lead late to the tough Brereton Jones Kentucky-bred Fast Yankee.

Oh Canada entered the gate as a 9-1 long shot in the Woodstock Stakes for his 2011 debut facing winter-raced Black N Beauty and Madman Diaries. However, the Bob Tiller charge had a long string of works preparing for this race and looked sharp charging, from 'far and wide' (as so eloquently noted in the WEG recap) to win the sprint in a time of 1:10.10.

Tiller has never won the Queen's Plate but the veteran might have a good one here - - we'll know for certain how good he is following the Queenston, to which he is nominated with several of these contenders.

Oh Canada edges Black N Beauty to the wire

7. Inglorious (F)
Owner: Donver Stables Breeder: Arosa Farms - Trainer: Josie Carroll - Jockey: Chantal Sutherland

The Hennessy filly won her first two career starts in fine fashion taking both the Fanfreluche and Ontario Lassie stakes at Woodbine. The latter event was a dominating performance as she pounded the poly to a five and three quarter length victory in a time of 1:46.28 for the mile and a sixteenth route.

Trainer Josie Carroll would saddle Inglorious for a remarkable 2011 opener at the Fair Grounds as the big filly closed willingly in the G3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes to finish second behind Kathmanblu. She was sent to post as the favourite in the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks but was brushed at the start and did not display her usual stretch kick finishing fourth in a race won by Daisy Devine.

The multiple stakes winner is now working towards a possible start in the Kentucky Oaks but it would seem more likely that she will return to Woodbine and start a path towards the lucrative Woodbine Oaks instead.

Owner: Fox Hill Farms - Breeder: William D. Graham - Trainer: J. Jones - Jockey: Mike Smith

What a good crop of Ontario-bred fillies we have to cheer on in 2011. It's quite possible that Joyful Victory is even better than Inglorious (rated higher here only because of two local wins) and the speedy Roxy Gap. This gorgeous grey Tapit filly won first time out traveling a mile and seventy yards at Delaware Park. From that MSW, Joyful Victory moved on to Belmont Park for the G1 Frizette Stakes finishing third behind the tough duo of A Z Warrior and R Heat Lightning and completed her season with a fifth place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies won by Awesome Feather.

Undefeated as a three-year-old, the improving filly has won both the G3 Honeybee and G2 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park as she prepares for a date in the Kentucky Oaks.

Joyful Victory wins the G2 Fantasy at Oaklawn

Owner: Martin S Schwartz - Breeder: Adena - Trainer: Patrick Biancone - Jockey:

The well-regarded son of Giant's Causeway broke his maiden going nine furlongs in his third lifetime start on February 11th at Gulfstream Park with a stalking trip under jockey Ryan Curatolo. Julien Leparoux took over for his next start, the G2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, and Bowman's Causeway endured a troubled trip bumping hard with Racing Aptitude at the start and then steadied while making a move at the far turn eventually finishing fourth.

On March 19th, Bowman's Causeway prepped for the Florida Derby in a one mile allowance that came up tough and the Patrick Biancone trainee finished third behind a pair of Todd Pletcher runners, Dance City and Cal Nation. Sent off at 40-1 in the G1 Florida Derby, Bowman's Causeway never got into the race and was eased during the stretch run. He has not worked since the week before the Florida Derby.

10. Roxy Gap (F)
Owner: Melnyk Racing Stables - Breeder: Eugene Melnyk - Trainer: Mark Casse - Jockey: Corey Fraser

Undefeated in three starts at Woodbine, there is plenty to like about the stakes winning Eugene Melnyk homebred. The Indian Charlie miss ran away from fields on both surfaces at Woodbine winning her debut by six and a half lengths and then topping the Shady Well by two and half lengths. She would close her 2010 account with a four and half length win over the turf covering a mile in 1:34 and 4.

Roxy Gap was in tough for her 2011 debut in the G3 Old Hat at Gulfstream Park and never really got untracked after being bumped at the start finishing third behind Final Mesa and Pomeroys Pistol. Although completing a mile and a quarter marathon is not likely in the cards for Roxy Gap, she is putting in some wonderful works at Woodbine and is one to consider until proven otherwise.

Owner: West Point Thoroughbred - Breeder:Hill N Dale - Trainer: Mark Casse - Jockey: Eurico Rosa da Silva

12. Good Better Best
Owner: Harlequin Ranches - Breeder: Cavendish Investing Ltd. - Trainer: Roger Attfield - Jockey: Patrick Husbands

Good Better Best is best at Keeneland

Owner: Charles Fipke - Breeder: Charles Fipke - Trainer: Roger Attfield - Jockey: Javier Castellano

Owner: Denny Andres, Robert Griffith, - Breeder: Gardiner Farms - Trainer: Mike De Paulo Jockey: Slade Callaghan

Bear's Chill bombards the Woodbine poly

15. Say No More
Owner: G. Schickedanz and D. Howard - Breeder: G. Schickedanz - Trainer: Mike Keogh - Jockey: Richard Dos Ramos

Say No More zips to victory at Woodbine on April 24th, 2011

Owner: Peachtree Stable- Breeder: James A Everatt, Janeane A Everatt & J. Arrika Everatt - Trainer: Steve Margolis - Jockey: Shaun Bridgmohan

17. Jojo's Mojo
Owner: Samotowka Stables - Breeder: Adena - Trainer: Michael De Paulo - Jockey: Justin Stein

Owner: G. W. Humphrey Jr. - Breeder: Sam-Son Farms - Trainer: G. Arnold Jockey: James Graham

Grand Style wins in style at Woodbine

Owner: Sam-Son Farms - Breeder: Sam-Son Farms - Trainer: Malcolm Pierce - Jockey: Omar Moreno

Owner: Zayat Stables - Breeder: Zayat Stables - Trainer: Todd Pletcher - Jockey: John Velazquez

21. Kafiristan
Owner: Knob Hill Stable - Breeder: Knob Stable - Trainer: Josie Carroll - Jockey: Richard Dos Ramos

22. Sardonicus
Owner: Quintessential Racing - Breeder: Robert Slack - Trainer: Mark Casse - Jockey: Corey Fraser

Owner: Sam-Son Farms - Breeder: Sam-Son Farms - Trainer: Mark Frostad - Jockey: Rosie Napravnik

Owner: J.M. Stritzi Stables - Breeder: .M. Stritzi Stables - Trainer: Norman McKnight - Jockey: Tyler Pizarro

Owner: D. Bell, G. Vlahos - Breeder: Robert Hancock and Beth Hancock - Trainer: David Bell - Jockey: Justin Stein

Ojibway Signal can run all day

Click this link to sign up for Woodbine's Queen's Plate Fantasy Challenge.
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As always, keep track of the latest goings on in the world of horse racing by clicking into TripleDeadHeat's Woodbine News page or join in on the conversation by following TripleDeadHeat on Twitter.


MikeAdamson said...

I've played in the Challenge for a few years and the format changes have really changed the game's strategy. The sole counting of Woodbine results works against holding American based runners who may or may not show up for any of the preps. The segmenting into four sessions demands an emphasis on shorter and more current planning...much different than picking a stable and riding it through the QP. I don't know if one game is better than the other but this year's version definitely requires a different approach than in the past.

Keith-TripleDeadHeat said...

MIKE - Good point re the scoring system. This is why I don't mind using fillies that may not make the Plate. I've also focused a bit more on local trainers over possible shippers.

Anonymous said...

the contest segments are too short 4 more race days and first segment will be over.I am yet to see any standings 4 days into this segment