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Magic & guest handicapper J.D. Fox preview the 2023 King’s Plate from Woodbine, then give their top picks & long shots from the 164th edition of the oldest continuously-run horse race in North America.
The Chad Brown-trained Kalik is favored to win his Tapeta synthetic racing debut, but can the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3) champion defeat 16 other Canadian-bred horses? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Seventeen sophomores, including Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser winner Elysian Field, and Plate Trial victor Paramount Prince, both trained by dual hall of famer Mark Casse, will contest the $1 million King’s Plate, first leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, highlighting an outstanding stakes-filled Sunday card of racing at Woodbine.
This year’s edition of The King’s Plate highlights a mix of established stars, and intriguing longshots, talented fillies, colts, and geldings, along with high-profile owners, trainers, and jockeys. The fillies, Elysian Field and Wickenheiser, will each carry 121 pounds, while all other starters carry 126 pounds.
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Cool Kiss, a son of Kantharos-Hot Kiss, is one of three (Stanley House and El Cohete is the other) Mike De Paulo trainees. Owned by Newtop Stables, John Russell and De Paulo’s son Joseph, the dark bay is 2-2-0 from eight starts. Emma-Jayne Wilson, who won the 2007 Plate with Mike Fox, gets the call.
“We had a partnership years ago called Super Six Stable,” recalled Mike De Paulo. “One of the horses in the stable was a mare called Hot Kiss. She was a hard-knocking filly, who won the Trillium Stakes and second in the Maple Leaf. We decided to breed her and her first foal, Repeat the Heat, was a nice horse. Cool Kiss is the second one. He’s a character. His mother was a lunatic.
“This horse, the first time we went to run him, I’m in the Finish Line Bar at Woodbine and I hear there is a scratch in the race, number five. I thought, ‘Okay, one less horse for us to go up against.’ And then I realized that was Cool Kiss. He dropped Emma under the tunnel. But here they are, back together again.”
Owned by Rocco D’Alimonte and Frank Annecchini, El Cohete (“The Rocket”) has posted a top-three finish in three of his four starts, including a maiden-breaking performance over 6 ½ furlongs on the E.P. Taylor Turf on June 15. Trained by Mike De Paulo, who also sends out Cool Kiss and Stanley House, the son of Society’s Chairman-Diannecantretire was third in his most recent race, at 1 1/16 miles over the Tapeta, on July 30.
“He’s a good-feeling horse,” noted De Paulo. “He’s always been a good work horse. We had a little shin trouble with him last year, but he’s been okay this year. We always thought he could run. Hopefully, he shows that again on Sunday.”
Elysian Field, trained by dual hall of famer Mark Casse, heads into the Plate off a sterling score in the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser. The daughter of Hard Spun-Elysian, owned by Team Valor International and Gary Barber, is 2-2-0 from six starts. The chestnut filly was bred in Ontario by Anderson Farms Ont. Inc.
“Coming into a race like this, some horses are thriving and getting better, and that would describe her,” said Casse, who won the 2014 Plate with Lexie Lou and the 2018 running with Wonder Gadot.
Kalik, trained by Chad Brown for owners Robert LaPenta, e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Madaket Stables LLC (the group also owns Moon Landing), will make the Plate his first start in Canada. The son of Collected-Coronation Street won three straight starts, all turf, from March to June of this year, including the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G2T) on June 3. The chestnut is 3-1-0 from six starts.
“With Chad, you know the horse will be in top condition coming into the Plate,” said jockey Kazushi Kimura. “To be in The King’s Plate is amazing. The race has so much history. You can feel the excitement building and I hope that we can say we won the first King’s Plate since 1951. I know I have a big chance with this horse.”
A grey son of Mr Speaker-Grey Pride, Kaukokaipuu has been a model of consistency for trainer Ted Holder and Culpepper Island Syndicate. Bred in Ontario by Sean Fitzhenry, the colt is 2-7-0 from 11 starts, including a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Queenston Stakes over the Tapeta on June 11.
“His pedigree says that it is not a problem,” said Holder, of the Plate distance. “Mr Speaker was a mile and a quarter, to mile and a half horse on all surfaces, and he is out of a granddaughter of Radiant Ring who is tested at the classic distances in the early to mid-90s.”
Owned by Tucci Holdings, Midnight in Malibu, trained by Sid Attard, sprung a 32-1 upset in his most recent race, a 1 1/16-mile race over the Tapeta. The son of Midnight Lute-I Thirtyfive is 2-0-0 from five starts. The dark bay colt broke his maiden over one mile and 70 yards on the Tapeta last December.
“I think he’ll go the distance no problem,” said Attard. “Every time we work him five or six furlongs, he gallops out strong.”
Owned by Robert LaPenta, e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Madaket Racing Stable LLC, Moon Landing, trained by Kevin Attard, won at first asking, the victory coming at Woodbine over 6 ½ furlongs on the Tapeta. The son of Nyquist-Fragrance, who is 1-0-1 from six starts, was bred by Anderson Farms Ont. Inc. and Rod Ferguson Farms Ltd.
“He really dug down deep in the late running and just missed getting it all,” said Attard, of Moon Landing’s third-place effort in a 1 1/16-mile Tapeta race on July 23. “We’re hoping that he’s able to build off that last race and show the type of skill that he does have.”
Trained by Renico Lafond for owner Kris Manohar, Morstachy’s was a recent $40,000 claim. The son of Mor Spirit-Wekiva Mist, bred by Al and Bill Ulwelling, is 1-3-2 from 11 starts. The bay won in his final start of 2022, a 4 ¼-length triumph at 6 ½ furlongs over the Woodbine Tapeta. The gelding has finished in the top three in four of his past five races.
“His closing speed would be his best attribute to this race, he has an eye-catching turn of foot,” praised Lafond. “He is not a big horse, but he covers ground immensely.”
A chestnut son of Society’s Chairman-Platinum Steel, Paramount Prince heads into The King’s Plate off a wire-to-wire, five-length performance in the Plate Trial on July 23. Bred by Ericka Rusnak, the gelding, trained by Mark Casse and owned by Michael Langlois and Gary Barber, is 2-2-1 from five lifetime starts.
“After the race, he kept going, he galloped out a good mile and a quarter so I don’t think the distance [for The King’s Plate] would be an issue for him,” said Casse, of the Plate Trial. “And I think Patrick [jockey, Husbands] let him do it too because we knew down the road, he’s going to have to run a little farther.”
Canada’s champion 2-year-old male Philip My Dear, trained by Kevin Attard for Raroma Stable Inc., is 3-0-2 from seven starts. Last year, the son of Silent Name (JPN)-Involuntary won the Soaring Free and Cup and Saucer, both contested on the E.P. Taylor turf. The colt was bred in Ontario by Adena Springs.
“He’s had a tough start this year, but I think he’s starting to round into the form that helped earn him a Sovereign in 2022,” said Attard.
Bred and owned by RCC Racing Stable, Silent Miracle, 3-0-1 from five races, will test out the stakes ranks for the first time in the Plate. Trained by John Mattine, the son of Silent Name (JPN)-Broken Meadow notched consecutive wins starting last December (in his 2-year-old finale) over 6 ½ furlongs on the Tapeta, before a victory at seven panels on the same surface in his 3-year-old debut this May.
“I think he’ll get the distance,” said Mattine. “I asked (jockey) Ryan Munger after his last race if he had anything left in the tank and he said yes.”
Stanley House, owned by John and Diana Russell, is 2-3-0 from seven starts. Trained by Mike De Paulo, the son of Army Mule-Stormy’s Song recorded back-to-back runner-up finishes to start his career in the fall of 2022. His maiden victory came at Gulfstream Park on March 25 at 1 1/16 miles on the Tapeta. Javier Castellano, aboard for that milestone win, will be in the irons again Sunday.
“I liked him when we bought him,” said De Paulo, of the $120,000 (U.S.) purchase at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale. “It was a bit of a gamble because he is from a first-year sire and the first foal out of the mare, so you were basically just looking at an athlete. We had him broke in Ocala with Mike Cooke and he liked him all along. Any time this horse did something, he did it well. He’s always had a lot of class and showed ability in every work he had.”
Touch‘n Ride, a Chiefswood Stables homebred, has made just two starts, but both efforts produced pleasing results. After a third to launch his career on July 1, where the son of Candy Ride (ARG)-Niigon’s Touch rallied impressively in the one-mile turf race, the bay was even better next time out. Sent off at 9-2 in the 1 1/16-mile Tapeta race on July 30, the gelding romped to a 5 ¼-length score.
“He’s been training well,” said trainer Layne Giliforte. “My feeling is that we have a fresh horse and fresh legs. Distance and fitness shouldn’t be an issue.”
Twin City, trained by Stuart Simon, who co-owns with Brent, Russell, and Roy McLellan, brings a record of 2-4-1 from eight starts into the Plate. The son of Klimt-Minnie Apple Is took the King Corrie this May, a nose win in the seven-furlong Tapeta race. Bred in Ontario by Frank Di Giulio, Jr., the bay will be ridden by Gary Boulanger.
“A good quality of his, which will certainly help with the big crowds and all the fanfare on Sunday, is his laid-back demeanour,” said Simon. “He’s a pretty cool customer, which is a nice quality to have. We’re thrilled to have him in The King’s Plate.”
Bred, owned, and trained by dual hall of fame conditioner Roger Attfield (who is tied with Harry Giddings, Jr. for the most Plate wins by a trainer with eight), Twowaycrossing has run four of his six races on the turf. The son of English Channel-Double Guns Girl won at first asking last October over seven furlongs on the E.P. Taylor turf and is 2-0-0 from seven starts.
“I think he is turning around now, but he’s not going into the Plate how I would normally go into a Plate,” said Attfield.
Velocitor, a son of Mor Spirit-Polar Plunge, has a mark of 3-1-1 from eight starts for trainer Kevin Attard and owner/breeders Al and Bill Ulwelling. The dark bay won two straight races including last year’s Coronation Futurity at 21-1. The gelding finished second in his debut last May before a 7 ½-length romp at the same distance and over the same surface, five furlongs on the Tapeta, next time out in June.
“I was really thrilled with the way he kept on battling to the wire,” said Attard, of Velocitor’s fourth in the Plate Trial on July 23. “I thought it was a nice effort from a horse who has certainly shown he is capable of running a big race.”
Bred in Ontario by Sean Fitzhenry, Wickenheiser (1-2-0 from six starts), named after Canadian hockey icon Hayley Wickenheiser, finished a rallying second to Plate rival Elysian Field in the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser on July 23. Kevin Attard, who sent Moira out to an Oaks-Plate double last year, trains and co-owns the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid-Game (FR) with Al and Bill Ulwelling, and Clay Scherer.
“We made the decision to name this horse after Canadian hockey great Hayley Wickenheiser,” said Attard, who is also a member of Wickenheiser’s ownership group. “And as this filly has shown in her career, she’s the ultimate competitor. She has been in every race over her career and her two efforts this season have been really encouraging.”
The 164th edition of King’s Plate, North America’s oldest continually run race, contested at 1 ¼ miles on the Woodbine Tapeta, is the first event in the tri-surface series for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.
Wando, bred and owned by the late Gustav Schickedanz, was the last horse to accomplish the feat, in 2003, while becoming the seventh to record the unique triple. The $400,000 Prince of Wales, run at 1 3/16 miles on the dirt at Fort Erie on September 12, is the second leg. The $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, at 1 ½ miles over the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course at Woodbine on October 1, concludes the series.
It is also the first time since 1951 that the race will be run as The King’s Plate, in keeping with the tradition of naming the race after the ruling British monarch.
Sunday’s card also features a trio of standout stakes: the $200,000 Dance Smartly (G2T) (1 1/16 miles on the E.P. Taylor turf for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up), $125,000 Catch a Glimpse (6 ½ furlongs on the E.P. Taylor turf for 2-year-old fillies) and $125,000 Soaring Free (6 ½ furlongs on the E.P. Taylor turf for 2-year-olds).
First post for Sunday is 12:25 p.m. (ET), with the featured King’s Plate scheduled as Race 10 (5:39 p.m. ET). The national Plate broadcast will be televised on TSN and CTV starting at 4:30 p.m.
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