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Wide-Open Queen’s Plate Attracts 13 Hopefuls
Keep Grinding (Credit: Michael Burns Photo)

Wide-Open Queen’s Plate Attracts 13 Hopefuls

TORONTO, ON – A total of 13 hopefuls, including four Kevin Attard trainees, will vie for top prize in the $1 million Queen’s Plate, first leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, highlighting a stakes-laden, entertainment-filled Sunday card of racing at Woodbine.

The 162nd edition of the Queen’s Plate, North America’s oldest continually-run race, is contested at 1 1/4 miles on the Woodbine Tapeta and is the curtain raiser for 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 14, is the second leg. The $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, at 1 1/2 miles over the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course at Woodbine on October 3, concludes the series.

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This year’s running of the Queen’s Plate will showcase a mix of stakes champions, stars on the rise, and live longshots. Fillies will carry 123 pounds, while all other starters carry 126 pounds.

Trainer Kevin Attard, seeking his first Plate triumph, will be represented by four starters, including Munnyfor Ro, winner of the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser, on August 1.

To be ridden by Justin Stein for owner Raroma Stable, the daughter of Munnings will look to follow in the hoofsteps of other fillies who have notched the Oaks-Plate double, a list that includes Inglorious (2011), Lexie Lou (2014), and Holy Helena (2017).

Munnyfor Ro, sporting a 2-2-2 mark in 9 starts, is in good order heading into the race.

“She’s here and we’re excited,” said Attard. “We waited to see how she came out of the race. She seemed to handle the race really well in the Oaks. She had a good work in the interim and she’s been doing really well. She’s in the feed tub and it seems like she’s ready to fire again.”

Attard’s three other hopefuls come in the form of Haddassah, Harlan Estate, and H C Holiday.

Haddassah, to be ridden by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Gary Boulanger, who won the 2001 Queen’s Plate with Dancethruthedawn, is owned by Al & Bill Ulwelling.

“He’s indicated to me that he should (get the distance),” said Attard. “Obviously, we’re hoping to get him relaxed early and I think that will be the key.”

Owned by ERJ Racing (NHL defenceman Erik Johnson), Exline-Border Racing, Madaket Stables and Clay Scherer, Harlan Estate began his career in California before making the trek north to Woodbine. The son of Kantharos will have Kazushi Kimura – Woodbine’s leading rider in 2021 – in the irons.

“He’s named after my favorite wine in Napa (Harlan Estate),” Johnson told Woodbine’s Communications Office. “His sire is Kantharos, which in Greek was a cup used to hold wine. So, that’s the tie-in there.

“He is out of an Arch mare, which is a big stamina influence in his pedigree. He is training very well and we are excited to see him run in Canada’s biggest race.”

H C Holiday, a son of Ami’s Holiday, will look to deliver Ivan Dalos, one of Canada’s most successful owners and breeders, with his first Queen’s Plate crown. Luis Contreras, the first rider to win all 3 Canadian Triple Crown races with different horses, gets the call on Sunday.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Colleen Dalos, of Tall Oaks Farm. “My father has been in the business over 40 years, as everybody knows, and I think we’ve had four shots at this Plate. We’ve hit the board 3 times, we have 3 seconds, this is what we covet, everybody wants to win on their home turf and their home ground. It means everything to us to win a Plate.

“What’s also exciting is this is the son of Ami’s Holiday, who came second in the Plate and hit the board across the Triple Crown. So it’s exciting for us to see our homebreds and the horses that we breed. This is four generations of Tall Oaks Farm breeding that has gone into this horse so we’re so excited for H C Holiday.”

There are plenty of other intriguing Attard storylines in this year’s Plate running.

Kevin’s father, veteran trainer Tino Attard, will send out Keep Grinding, a dark bay son of Tizway who is 1-1-1 from 5 starts. Kevin’s teenage son Joshua owns the colt.

“I am very excited and it’s also very nerve wracking, that’s for sure,” said Joshua Attard. “I know Keep Grinding, he’ll show up. He always tries, if you watch all his races, he never gives up and I know on Sunday he’ll show up.”

Keep Grinding has been installed as the 4/1 morning line favorite.

Hall of Fame conditioner Sid Attard, seeking his first Plate victory, rests his hopes on Stronach Stables homebred Riptide Rock, a chestnut son of Point of Entry. The gelding won his most recent start on July 16 at Woodbine.

Avoman, trained by Don MacRae, who co-owns with La Huerta Inc. (Jim and Graeme Bruce), arrives at the Plate off a win in the Plate Trial Stakes. Antonio Gallardo, who moved his tack to Woodbine in July, will be aboard again on Sunday.

Dance Some Mo is one (Tidal Forces is the other) of two Sam-Son Farm silk bearers contesting this year’s “Gallop for the Guineas.” Trained by Graham Motion, the son of Uncle Mo will be making his stakes debut in the Plate. Patrick Husbands, who guided Wando to Canadian Triple Crown glory in 2003, gets the call again.

Trained by Carlos Grant for owners Fieldstone Farms Inc. & Jecara Farms Corp., Derzkii, third in the Plate Trial, sports a record of 2-2-2 from 9 starts. Jason Hoyte will be aboard the son of Frac Daddy.

Owner-breeder Garland Williamson’s Go Take Charge will look to break his maiden in the Plate. Trained by Breeda Hayes, the son of Will Take Charge arrives at the $1 million event off a second-place finish on July 24 at Woodbine.

Champion American jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will guide Phillip Serpe trainee Safe Conduct on Sunday. The bay son of Bodemeister, owned by WellSpring Stables, will be making his first appearance in Canada, having contested his past 3 races at Belmont, which includes a win on May 2.

Anderson Farms Ontario Inc., William Carr, Donald Ferguson will take their shot at a Plate win with Take a Chance, a bay son of Munnings who won his most recent start, the victory coming on July 11 at the Toronto oval. Keveh Nicholls will ride.

The tandem of trainer Gail Cox and owner Sam-Son Farm, who teamed with El Tormenta to win the $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1) in 2019, will look for another big win, this time with Tidal Forces. The son of Malibu Moon will have champion rider Emma-Jayne Wilson aboard.

First race post time for Sunday is 12:25 PM Eastern, with the featured Queen’s Plate scheduled as race 10 at 5:42 PM.

1Safe ConductIrad Ortiz Jr.Phillip Serpe5/1
2Harlan EstateKazushi KimuraKevin Attard12/1
3HaddassahGary BoulangerKevin Attard10/1
4Take A ChanceKeveh NichollsCatherine Day Phillips20/1
5H C HolidayLuis ContrerasKevin Attard15/1
6Munnyfor RoJustin SteinKevin Attard9/2
7Riptide RockDavid MoranSid Attard6/1
8Keep GrindingRafael HernandezTino Attard4/1
9Go Take ChargeSahin CivaciBreeda Hayes30/1
10Dance Some MoPatrick HusbandsGraham Motion12/1
11AvomanAntonio GallardoDon MacRae8/1
12Tidal ForcesEmma-Jayne WilsonGail Cox12/1
13DerzkiiJason HoyteCarlos Grant30/1

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