Close menu
Safe Conduct Guts Out Queen’s Plate Victory
Credit: Michael Burns Photo

Safe Conduct Guts Out Queen’s Plate Victory

TORONTO, ONSafe Conduct had just enough left in the tank to take the 162nd running of the $1 million Queen’s Plate, North America’s oldest continually-run race, as the son of Bodemeister bested a hard-charging Riptide Rock by a head Sunday at Woodbine.

The Queen’s Plate is the first leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, a series restricted to 3-year-olds foaled in Canada. The second leg, the Prince of Wales Stakes, is a 1 3/16-mile dirt route at Fort Erie on September 14. The third leg returns to Woodbine for the Breeders’ Stakes, going 1 1/2 miles on the outer turf course.

Woodbine Full Card Plays Available Now

There’s a reason we’re the #1 trusted source for premium racing picks & info.

Bred by Ontario’s Mitchell Kursner, the bay colt had never raced over the Toronto oval Tapeta prior to the 1 1/4-mile classic.

With Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, Safe Conduct’s Canadian debut was certainly a thrilling and memorable one.

Sent off as the slight 3/1 choice, Safe Conduct, trained by Phillip Serpe and owned by WellSpring Stables, broke well from post 1 and got away second as Take a Chance led the field past the wire for the first time, with Go Take Charge and Haddassah next in line.

Take a Chance continued to call the shots on the front end with Safe Conduct shadowing the leader through an opening 1/4 in :24.01. Woodbine Oaks champion Munnyfor Ro sat fifth.

As the field raced along the backstretch, the two pacesetters continued to show the way. Take a Chance was a length in front of Safe Conduct after a 1/2 reached in :48.37.

As the field rounded the turn, Safe Conduct, on the inside, struck front, maintaining a 1/2-length lead over Keep Grinding at Robert Geller’s stretch call. Riptide Rock, last at the 1/4 and 1/2 and second-to-last at the mile mark, began to pick up steam on the far outside, passing rivals one by one until he was a clear second.

The Stronach Stables homebred continued to chip away at Safe Conduct’s lead but fell just short. H C Holiday, one of four Kevin Attard trainees, finished third, while Munnyfor Ro was fourth.

The final time was 2:02.85.

“He’s shown some speed before to the half, :48,” said Ortiz Jr., who was riding in his first Plate. “We thought maybe two horses had speed and we want to be out of the traffic, so I broke running. I sat second on the clear, I bided my time, waited for the right time to roll and when I asked him to go, he kept fighting down the stretch. He kept moving forward. I saw somebody was flying outside… that was very close, I didn’t know if I won the race after the wire but thank God I did.”

Kursner, a co-owner of 2016 Woodbine Oaks winner Neshama, was overjoyed with Safe Conduct’s gritty Plate triumph.

“Blessed,” said Kursner. “Blessed. I want to congratulate Dr. Vukevich and the wonderful people at WellSpring. They’ve done a marvelous job bringing this horse along. And of course, Phil Serpe.”

Safe Conduct is now 3-1-0 from 7 starts. He broke his maiden in his second engagement, a 1 1/4-length win over the Saratoga turf last August.

“He’s been training like a bear,” noted Kursner. “The rule of thumb is that if you’re a nice horse on the turf, you’ll translate on the Tapeta and we’re just delighted. Delighted.”

As was Ortiz Jr.

“It’s a great feeling always to come here. It’s my pleasure to come here. I’ve got a lot of fans. They showed me some love. I really enjoyed it.”

Safe Conduct returned $8, $5.10, and $4.20, combining with Riptide Rock ($10.10, $7.90) for a $57.80 exactor ($1). H C Holiday ($15.40) completed a $1,214.65 triactor ($1). Munnyfor Ro rounded out a $1 superfecta that returned $7,729.55.  

Join the Inner Circle

Sign up for exclusive 10% discount on orders, plus be the first to access our daily free and premium horse racing picks, articles, podcasts, and more!

Sign Up