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Queen’s Plate Preview: Curlin’s Voyage Embarks on Toughest Test Yet
Curlin's Voyage winning the Woodbine Oaks (Credit: Michael Burns Photo)

Queen’s Plate Preview: Curlin’s Voyage Embarks on Toughest Test Yet

TORONTO, ON – Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame trainer Josie Carroll’s multiple stakes-winning filly Curlin’s Voyage will embark upon her toughest test yet in Saturday’s $1 million Queen’s Plate at Woodbine.

The Queen’s Plate is a 1 1/4-mile synthetic route restricted to Canadian-bred 3-year-olds. This year’s edition is the 10th event on a 13-race card and has a local post time of 5:41 PM.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the Queen’s Plate:

1. Sweepin Hard 50/1 – After failing to make an impact while making his career debut in a local 6 1/2-furlong sprint on July 12, he stretched out to 1 1/8 miles and won going away with an off-the-pace rally on August 16. His connections supplemented him here based on that maiden-breaking effort, but he’ll still need to take a significant step forward to contend.

2. Merveilleux 10/1 – She joins Curlin’s Voyage as the only two fillies facing the males and returns after a strong, third-place effort behind that rival in the Woodbine Oaks. She closed strongly after encountering traffic troubles and galloped out past the winner, but she’ll have to navigate her way past even more rivals in this spot, so getting a cleaner trip will be critical.

“She’s just a horse that you’re hoping on that day everything goes right for her and she finally gets a clear run, no obstacles, no hurdles,” said trainer Kevin Attard. “That way, she can prove whether she’s good enough or not and there’s no excuses. She’s doing very well and I’m quite pleased with her.”

3. Belichick 30/1 – The high-priced colt ($300k) was late to debut, not showing up to the races until he finished third in a 7-furlong sprint here on July 4. He stretched out to 1 1/8 miles on the main course in his next start and finished second after leading in the stretch, but he’ll need a major step forward if he hopes to hold off his Carroll-trained stablemate.

“He’s a tremendous-moving horse that impressed from the start,” Carroll said. “We put the Plate on our radar right at that time. His first 2 starts, he was very green and unfocused, and he just now seems to be pulling it together. He’s a horse that had enough talent to be given a chance in (the Queen’s Plate).”

4. Truebelieve 30/1 – He gives routing another go after failing to hold onto his early lead last time out in a local 1 1/16-mile allowance, a race won by this event’s morning line favorite. He looks like the truest early pacesetter on paper, but his inability to handle routing in 2 prior tries (he was second in last December’s Kingarvie Stakes) makes him questionable at best here.

5. Holyfield 30/1 – He finally broke his maiden in his sixth career start, prevailing by a head in a local 1 1/16-mile turf event three weeks ago. He only hit the board once in 4 attempts on the main track, but trainer Catherine Day-Phillips has a 16% success rate on synthetic surfaces, so perhaps he can take another step forward now that he’s won a race.

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6. Halo Again 5/1 – No other runner has as many starts (3) going 1 1/8 miles as this son of Speightstown, a stallion not often associated with producing strong route runners. He won November’s Coronation Futurity and just missed by a 1/2-length in last month’s Plate Trial (behind this race’s morning line favorite) after dueling up front for much of the early going.

“We feel very good about his chances,” said trainer Steve Asmussen. “I thought he stayed on nicely [in the Plate Trial]. He came out of the race in great shape.”

7. Glorious Tribute 30/1 – He broke his maiden over the local strip at fifth asking last fall and faced strictly stakes company since, with his best finish a third in the Queenston Stakes behind the horse directly to his inside. He earned a career-best 83 Beyer Speed Figure that day, a great improvement upon his prior top of 70, but he’ll need to find more to contend.

8. Olliemyboy 30/1 – He progressed well this summer, breaking his maiden in his third local start (fourth overall) while attempting 1 1/8 miles for the first time. He’s worked well since then and he’s bred to handle a route of ground, but he’ll need serious improvement upon the 68 Beyer Speed Figure that he earned in victory.

9. Dotted Line 8/1 – He won 3 straight to end 2019, including 2 at the stakes level (the Frost King and the Kingarvie), but has taken some time to find his groove in 2020. His best effort came last time out in the Plate Trial, when he dueled with Halo Again on the front end until Clayton surpassed them both. Jockey Justin Stein (winner of the 2012 Queen’s Plate) retains the mount.

10. Curlin’s Voyage 5/2 – Carroll has always thought highly of this filly; her first 2 career starts came in local stakes, and her maiden-breaking effort was her only appearance to date below the stakes level. Last year’s champion juvenile filly in Canada has won 2 straight heading into this event (the Fury and the Woodbine Oaks) and Carroll became the first female trainer to win this race when Edenwold won the 2006 edition.

“We’ve always thought very highly of her after her 2-year-old debut,” Carroll said. “She’s a very uncomplicated filly and does everything you ask of her.”

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11. F F Rocket 50/1 – After failing to finish better than seventh through 3 starts on American dirt, he broke his maiden while routing over the Presque Isle Downs synthetic main track last time out. He only earned a 61 Beyer Speed Figure for that effort, but if the surface change was the difference-maker, then he could surprise here at a very nice price.

12. Clayton 2/1 – Though lightly-raced, he’s deserving of his morning line favoritism thanks to his current 2-race win streak that includes trouncing allowance rivals while going 1 1/16 miles and his subsequent Plate Trial score. He was rank early and ran greenly in the stretch during his most recent outing, but if those problems were a one-off, he’ll be tough to stop.

“He’s been special from the get-go,” Attard said. “He’s doing everything you want him to. Hopefully, he just needs to get a little bit better one more time and maybe he can put everything together.”

13. Mighty Heart 20/1 – The second Carroll entry broke his maiden over the local course on July 11, defeating multiple rivals whom he’ll see again here by a ridden-out 4 1/4 lengths. He fell back to third after leading in mid-stretch in his most recent start, and with this outside draw, he’ll need to establish good position before heading into the clubhouse turn.

14. Tecumseh’s War 12/1 – The second representative from the Day-Phillips barn ran a career-best effort last time out in his first attempt routing on synthetic, finishing just a 1/2-length behind the winner while defeating the horse directly to his inside. Emma-Jayne Wilson became the first female jockey to win this event in 2007 aboard Mike Fox.

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