With 17 horses set to contest today's 152nd running of the Queen’s Plate, there should be plenty of oomph in the payouts.
Will Queen'splatekitten surge to victory this afternoon?
To add some spice to the festivities, Woodbine is offering a $100,000 guaranteed early Pick 4 (Races 4 – 7) on Sunday that covers a pair of strong turf stakes - - the six furlong G2 Highlander, which features Heros Reward and Stormy Lord, and the twelve furlong G3 Singspiel headlined by Rahy’s Attorney.
The late pick four (Races 9 – 12) is guaranteed at $200,000 and is going to take some picking with the 17-horse Plate field (Race 10) sandwiched by a pair of MSWs, ending on an Ontario sired N2L allowance sprint. (Visit HorsePlayerInteractive for more details.)
Check Your Soul (yellow jacket) works with stablemate Simmard
The Queen’s Plate is a true test of stamina with three-year-old Canadian-breds traveling a mile and a quarter carrying 126lbs, except for the lone filly Inglorious who will carry 121lbs.
Tackling a field of this size from a handicapping perspective is a difficult proposition. I’m going to start with a rather simplistic approach and divide the field up by their top Beyer speed figure rating in two-turn events (on any surface) to provide some perspective.
Seawatch was supplemented to the Plate at a cost of $25,000
85+: Check Your Soul (89), Bowman’s Causeway (85)
80-84: Imhotep (81), Pender Harbour (80), Inglorious (83), Enduring Star (83), Queen’s Plate Kitten (84),
75-79: Oh Canada (78), Strike Oil (79), Seawatch (78)
70-74: One Big Gator (73), Hippolytus (74), Maple Leaf Kitten (73)
65-70: Curgone (67), Head Honcho (68), Okiyama (67), Ojibway Signal (69)
Inglorious was all smiles after winning the Woodbine Oaks
Let’s take a quick walk through the field:
1 IMHOTEP Todd Pletcher Emile Ramsammy 30-1
The son of Giant’s Causeway debuted on the turf finishing second at a mile and an eighth to well-regarded Casino Host at Gulfstream. His follow-up efforts on synthetic surfaces at Keeneland (5th) and Woodbine (6th) leave much to be desired.
2 CURGONE Greg De Gannes Garrett Gomez 50-1
The gelded son of 2004 Queen’s Plate winner Niigon appears to be a step slower than the top contenders. He seems better suited for seven furlongs as the further he goes, the lower his Beyer number.
3 OH CANADA Robert Tiller Emma-Jayne Wilson 10-1
This is one game horse. He’s in the money in all of his five lifetime starts and ran third behind Queen’splatekitten in the Marine Stakes last out. The Proud Citizen gelding is another that might do his best running at a shorter distance than this, but he’s a big strapping horse that could grind his way into the money.
Oh Canada wins the Woodstock
4 ONE BIG GATOR John Ross Jim McAleney 30-1
He broke his maiden on June 10th and jumps in against winners in a very tough event. He should be part of the pace for as far as he goes.
One Big Gator breaks his maiden
5 PENDER HARBOUR Mike DePaulo Chantal Sutherland 12-1
This Mike De Paulo trainee ended his two-year-old campaign on a high note winning the Kingarvie Stakes defeating Hippolytus and Ojibway Signal who are here. The Philanthropist gelding had a late start to his three-year-old campaign but is catching up quick with a smart 80 Beyer number in his second start of the season when fourth in the Victoria Park - - behind a trio of Kentucky-breds.
Pender Harbour fourth in the Victoria Park
6 HEAD HONCHO Catherine Day Phillips Jono Jones 30-1
The comment lines read “off slow” for each of his four lifetime starts. The Strut the Stage gelding won despite the slow beginning when going nine furlongs last out. He’s going to get the distance but can he keep pace with the contenders?
Head Honcho rallies to win a nine furlong allowance
7 STRIKE OIL Mark Casse Willie Martinez 15-1
When he’s on, he’s quite good. The Windfields bred son of Forest Wildcat has put in two consecutive strong starts entering the Plate. On May 8 he was fourth, defeated four lengths by the same foes (Alpha Bettor and Moonshine Mullin) faced by Pender Harbour in the Victoria Park. In the Plate Trial, he chased gamely to the wire to be third.
Strike Oil fourth in an allowance
8 OKIYAMA John Mattine Jesse Campbell 30-1
This horse is a quick learner. He got to the races late (October) in his two-year-old campaign and won at first asking. The Old Forester gelding was understandably overmatched in his next outing when facing Kentucky-bred Fast Yankee and Plate entrant Oh Canada. The John Mattine trainee opened his three-year-old campaign with a win defeating older horses at a mile and a sixteenth. He’s versatile enough to be on the engine or off the pace.
Okiyama earns his second lifetime win versus older
9 INGLORIOUS Josie Carroll Luis Contreras 9-2
The Oaks winning filly is in fantastic form with a pair of Woodbine wins to her credit this season and a sparkling bullet work of five furlongs in 59 flat on June 16th. She started her season at the Fair Grounds in February when second to Kathmanblu in the G3 Rachel Alexandra and followed that up with a fourth place effort, defeated less than three lengths, in the Fair Grounds Oaks. She is partnered with Woodbine’s leading rider Luis Contreras.
Inglorious wins the Woodbine Oaks
10 ENDURING STAR Mark Casse Robby Albarado 30-1
The West Point Thoroughbreds fellow broke his maiden on April 23rd at Woodbine earning a 77 Beyer. He subsequently fell ill running a temperature that kept him out of the starting gate. The horse is healthy now and trainer Mark Casse has prepared the colt with a trio of strong works. Robby Albarado gets the call.
Enduring Star breaks his maiden
11 OJIBWAY SIGNAL David Bell Justin Stein 50-1
The Niigon-Apache Signal fellow is going to have no problem handling the distance - - but can he run it quick enough to compete at this level? The 50-1 shot worked sharply on June 20th bulleting five furlongs in 1:00 flat. Justin Stein gets the call.
12 SEAWATCH Josie Carroll Slade Callaghan 20-1
The Woodman colt is owned and trained by the same connections as Inglorious. He is bred to go long and they thought enough of the horse to supplement him to the Plate at a cost of $25,000. He boasts back-to-back 78 Beyer numbers around two turns on the polytrack and is definitely improving. Slade Callaghan takes over for Tyler Pizarro who chose to ride Hippolytus.
Seawatch breaks his maiden
13 CHECK YOUR SOUL Roger Attfield Patrick Husbands 3-1
Check Your Soul earned his field-best 89 Beyer number with an impressive performance in the Plate Trial when ridden out by jockey Patrick Husbands to a three and a quarter length victory over Bowman’s Causeway. He was much the best on that day as Husbands geared down in the final 70 yards giving the horse a congratulatory pat on the neck well before the finish line.
Check Your Soul romps to victory in the Plate Trial
14 QUEEN’SPLATEKITTEN Todd Pletcher John Velazquez 7-2
One of two Kitten’s Joy trainees in the Queen’s Plate, this one was destined to be in the race. The consistent colt has only one bad start (he stumbled in the G1 Blue Grass) out of six and loves the Woodbine polytrack. The Todd Pletcher / John Velazquez combo hit at a .28 clip.
Queen'splatekitten wins the Marine Stakes
15 HIPPOLYTUS Mark Casse Tyler Pizzaro 30-1
He was a driving winner to open the 2011 campaign at a mile and a sixteenth. In his next start, the Philanthropist gelding finished fourth in the Plate Trial. The Mark Casse trainee will add blinkers for the Queen’s Plate to encourage a little more focus. The horse is markedly improved since joining Casse’s barn three starts ago.
Hippolytus wins an allowance
16 BOWMAN’S CAUSEWAY Chad Brown Eurico Rosa Da Silva 6-1
The Giant’s Causeway colt started off his three-year-old season on the U.S Triple Crown prep trail for trainer Patrick Biancone. What started well enough - - second to Nacho Business; nine furlong win on the turf; 4th in the Fountain of Youth; 3rd in an allowance behind Dance City and Cal Nation - - ended in a disastrous Florida Derby when eased. He moved to trainer Chad Brown’s barn thereafter and has trained steadily at Saratoga returning to the races in the Plate Trial with a solid second-place effort. He has every reason to improve in his second start off the layoff/switch and two-time Plate winner Eurico Rosa da Silva gets the call.
17 MAPLE LEAF KITTEN Joe Woodard Omar Moreno 50-1
The other ‘kitten’ had a rough start to his career racing greenly and dealing with a lung infection. Following a claim, he moved to Joe Woodard’s care and has improved steadily with each start. Traffic trouble and focus issues caused heartache when racing in a pair of tough MSWs at Churchill Downs. With blinkers on in his most recent start, a focused Maple Leaf Kitten rolled home first over older horses on the Indiana Downs turf. Kitten’s Joy progeny love the polytrack.
I believe there are four horses who can win this race and I like them in this order:
1A Check Your Soul
2. Bowman’s Causeway
Picking the top four morning line choices is far from going out on a limb, I know, but they stand out on paper over this field.
However, I think you can use these horses in combinations to make good money playing the trifecta and superfecta. With seventeen horses in the mix, all four of these horses cannot expect a perfect trip which means some lucky horse (or two) could hit the ticket at a price.
My contenders to hit the board as long shots are: Oh Canada (10-1), Strike Oil (15-1), Seawatch (20-1) and Maple Leaf Kitten (50-1)
As such, I’ll play the following superfecta (1X3X3X7) in the Queen’s Plate:
Queen’splatekitten WITH Inglorious, Check Your Soul, Bowman’s Causeway WITH Inglorious, Check Your Soul, Bowman’s Causeway WITH Inglorious, Check Your Soul, Bowman’s Causeway, Oh Canada, Strike Oil, Seawatch and Maple Leaf Kitten (50-1).
I will play the same ticket with Check Your Soul in the top slot.
Good luck to Check Your Soul and groom Keith this afternoon
I will be on track all day Sunday and will provide updates from the paddock via Twitter. You can follow my tweets at Twitter.Com\TripleDeadHeat.
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Thoro-Graph is offering FREE Analysis of the Queen's Plate for those seeking an alternate opinion.
I would also recommend the excellent Classic Champions Thoroughbreds blog of pedigree analyst Calvin Carter who says:
A long shot I like is Maple Leaf Kitten (50-1).
Maple Leaf Kitten struggled as 2-year-old but seems to be quickly improving as a 3-year-old and at 50-1 he is worth a play in the exacta and trifecta with Check Your Soul and Inglorious. Whether he is improved enough to be a factor in the Queen’s Plate remains to be seen but he has the breeding to perform much better than his past performances would indicate.
Kitten’s Joy, the sire of Maple Leaf Kitten, was a multiple Grade 1 winner and the 2004 Eclipse Champion Turf Horse who was competitive racing from 9- to 12-furlongs. The sire line of Maple Leaf Kitten is the same Sadler’s Wells, Northern Dancer line as Check Your Soul.
E Dubai, the damsire of Maple Leaf Kitten, won the 10-furlong Suburban Handicap (G2) and finished second in the 10-furlong Travers Stakes (G1) and Super Derby (G1).
A number of great Queen's Plate related stories have made the papers this week. You can find all the links to these news stories under "Woodbine News" at the top of this page or click this link. Here are a few of my favourites:
Oh Canada - - Owner hopes Plate contender sets hearts aglow
Di Giulio, like his father before him, operates a small breeding operation and gets a kick out of naming the foals when they hit the ground. Oh Canada, complete with the “h” — which technically makes him separate from the song that made Calixa Lavalee sort of famous — is by the stallion Proud Citizen out of a mare named Oh Livia D. The handle fits; so do others. From Di Giulio’s mare named Dunedin came the colt Grapefruit League. Once, in a Three Stooges mood, he once put Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk on a colt. Another one was gifted with Indian Apple Is. You get the picture.
“This guy goes to bed at night thinking up names,” Tiller said. “He’ll come up with one before he falls asleep.”
Inglorious and Check Your Soul - - Sleep is a precious commodity as Toronto's Queen's Plate nears:
Come 5: 36 p.m. local time, before the 10th race of the day, Attfield and the Dubinskys will be somewhere in the grandstand as the 17 horses load into the starting gates two at a time. At that point, Sunday will become fraught because it will be time for the 152nd Queen's Plate, and nothing is ever ordinary about the first jewel in Canadian horse racing's Triple Crown.
Vern Dubinsky says his few hours of sleep this week have been alive with the same dream.
"I've dreamt about (Inglorious) just rolling up and running off," the owner of VDM Trucking says.
One Big Gator - - McAleney eager to end Queen's Plate drought:
But the mounts in the big race just haven’t been there. Since his first start in 1989, his best outings have been second-place finishes aboard I and I (2000) and Anglian Prince (2002).
“I’ve had a successful career and I’ve been very happy with all the things I have done in my career,” he said. “But the story is unfinished until you get a Queen’s Plate winner.”
McAleney’s mount this time is One Big Gator, a John Ross-trained colt that comes into the race after finally breaking his maiden in his sixth try on June 10. That’s credentials more fitting of his 30-1 morning-line status than contender but McAleney is optimistic.
“It’s a wide open race but this horse is coming off a win,” he said. “Anytime a horse is doing well and peaking as I believe this horse is, they can do unlimited things. The horse is in great order and we’ve got to give it a shot.”
Western Canada perspective - - Edmonton horses, owners, jockeys in running at Queen’s Plate:
“It’s amazing,” said Giffin. “Truly amazing to have that many connections from Alberta in Canada’s biggest race for three-year-olds. It’s a once in a lifetime thing, that’s what it is.”
Winner of last year’s Kingarvie stakes, his added-money debut, Pender Harbour finished a strong closing fourth in his last race, the Victoria Stakes just two weeks ago.
“We would have liked to have had another week but in a million-dollar race, it’s worth taking a shot,” said Giffin.”He was a bang-up fourth beaten only two lengths for all of it and finished ahead of several of the U.S. entries. But that was just the horse’s second start of the year.
“He worked very well this past Tuesday when he went five furlongs in 1:01 and change. He did it very easily and looked real good doing it.
“We’re just taking a shot. You don’t get many opportunities to run in The Plate,” said Giffin, a director with Horse Racing Alberta.
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