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J.D. Fox previews the 2022 Queen’s Plate at Woodbine, then gives his top picks and longshots. Moira is favored to become the 38th filly to win Canada’s biggest, oldest, and most prestigious race of the year, but she must defeat several tough male counterparts including Sir for Sure and Duke of Love. Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
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The track press release:
Eleven hopefuls, including Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser winner Moira, and Grade 3 Marine victor Rondure, will vie for top prize in the $1 million Queen’s Plate, first leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, highlighting an outstanding stakes-filled Sunday card of racing at Woodbine.
The 163rd edition of The Queen’s Plate, North America’s oldest continually run race, contested at 1 ¼ miles on the Woodbine Tapeta, 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 13, 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 2, concludes the series.
The Queen’s Plate breakfast festivities, co-hosted by Woodbine TV personality/commentator/handicapper Jeff Bratt, and Woodbine track announcer, and held at Woodbine’s newly opened Stella Artois Terrace, was attended by several of the race’s connections, and included remarks from Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment.
The double-draw format was in place for the post-position draw, with the order of selection first established and the connections then choosing their post positions. The connections of Dancin in Da’nile selected first and chose post 7.
This year’s running of The Queen’s Plate presents a mix of accomplished horses, owners, trainers, jockeys, rising stars, and live longshots. The filly, Moira, will carry 123 pounds, while all other starters carry 126 pounds.
Trainer Kevin Attard, seeking his first Plate triumph, will be represented by Moira, winner of the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser, on July 24.
To be ridden by Rafael Hernandez for ownership group X-Men Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, and SF Racing LLC, the daughter of Ghostzapper-Devine Aida will look to duplicate the success of other fillies who have netted the Oaks-Plate double, a list that includes Inglorious (2011), Lexie Lou (2014), and Holy Helena (2017).
Fashioning a record of 3-1-0 from four starts, including wins in the Stella Artois Fury Stakes in June and the Woodbine Oaks, the latter a 10 ¾-length romp, Moira arrives at the Plate at the top of her game.
“Typically, when you win the Oaks, depending on how impressive they are doing it, you always have to think of The Queen’s Plate,” said Attard. “It’s something we have always had in the back of our minds, and we geared her campaign so the Plate would be her third race of the season and she’d be fresh.”
Last year, Attard sent out Munnyfor Ro to win the Oaks and a solid fifth in the Plate.
The winner of 619 career races and multiple Sovereign Award finalist in the top trainer category is hoping to add another celebrated stakes victory to his impressive résumé.
“It’s about taking it one step at a time. You can make all the plans as you want, and sometimes they don’t work out the way you planned them out. We have been lucky enough that she has done everything we wanted her to until this point and stayed sound and stayed healthy.”
Rondure, who will have Flavien Prat in the irons, has been equally impressive in the leadup to Sunday’s race.
Previously trained by Danny Vella, and now in the barn of Katerina Vassilieva, the Borders Racing Stable homebred turned heads after an emphatic 5 ½-length triumph in the Grade 3 Marine on July 2.
“He’s just a wonderful horse in every way,” said Vassilieva. “It’s a real pleasure to watch him race and give everything he has every single time.”
The son of Oxbow-Carat Weight brings a 2-1-0 mark from five starts into the biggest race of his career.
“He’s not overly large in stature, but he’s stout,” said Vassilieva. “He has a stout, muscular body and a big heart. He loves to sleep. Every day, around 10:30 or 11, he eats his breakfast and then goes to sleep. You will find him around that time, every day, sprawled out in his stall. Which is always a good sign to me, that he knows how to rest and relax.”
Danny Vella, who won the 1994 Plate with Basqueian and the 2012 running with Strait of Dover, will go for the hat trick with The Minkster.
Bred by Dr. Tan Hyka, and owned by Sea Glass Stables, LLC, the son of English Channel-Cabriole was undefeated in his three starts heading into the Plate Trial.
“He had a little bit of a setback,” said Vella, after the sixth-place finish in the Plate Trial. “He had a bit of heat exhaustion and the ‘thumps’ (caused by an electrolyte imbalance) after the race. That’s probably what bothered him in the stretch there, and he’s recovered very well and is training better than ever.”
After a first-time out win on October 2 of last year, The Minkster was magnificent in his next start, the Coronation Futurity.
Now, the bay colt, with regular rider David Moran once again aboard, will look to get back to his winning ways in the $1 million Canadian classic.
“He’s doing super,” said Vella. “I’m getting excited about The Queen’s Plate. It’s been a while since I had Basqueian, and even a while since Strait of Dover, but I think he’s as talented as those horses.”
Trainer Mark Casse, who won the 2014 Plate with Lexie Lou and the 2018 running with Wonder Gadot, will be represented by the duo of Sir for Sure and Hall of Dreams.
Bred (Norse Ridge Farm) and owned (Heste Sport Inc.) by René and Darlene Hunderup, Sir for Sure stamped himself as a major Plate contender after taking the Plate Trial on July 24.
A bay son of Sligo Bay (IRE)-Serena’s Rose, Sir for Sure is 2-1-0 from five starts.
His latest effort drew top marks from Casse.
“The Plate Trial was actually my second choice,” said the dual hall of fame conditioner. “Two days before the Plate Trial, there was an Ontario-sired allowance going a mile and a quarter, and I was trying to find the easiest path to The Queen’s Plate because he’s a little behind from the injury. But the race didn’t go. René [owner, Hunderup] was good with running him in the Plate Trial, so we did. I didn’t need him to win, I just needed him to show he still wanted to play the game. I thought it was powerful and he got a great ride from Declan [jockey, Carroll].”
Hall of Dreams, second to his stablemate in the Plate Trial, is owned by Gary Barber, Wachtel Stables, Peter Deutsch, and Leonard Schleifer.
Bred by Joey Gee Thoroughbreds, the son of Lemon Drop Kid-Hallnor is 1-4-0 from seven starts.
“He ran really well,” offered Casse, in reference to the Plate Trial. “There was some stuff that happened at the top of the lane with Sir for Sure, and looking at it, I thought it could have gone either way. If they had taken him down, I wouldn’t have been shocked. He had a bit of a troubled trip, but the good news is that the extra eighth of a mile won’t hurt his feelings.”
Patrick Husbands, a two-time Plate winner, including his Triple Crown victory with Wando in 2003, once again gets the call.
Josie Carroll, who has three Plate wins to her name, including in 2020 with Mighty Heart, will get a shot at her fourth with Duke of Love.
Owned by MyRacehorse, the son of Cupid-Tell the Duchess finished a troubled fourth in the Plate Trial. After being blocked in late stretch, the bay colt, with Justin Stein aboard, found room late and finished strongly.
Stein, who won the 2012 running of the Plate with Strait of Dover, believes the best is yet to come for the sophomore who has a 2-1-0 record from six starts.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet,” said the veteran rider. “He’s grown up, yet he’s still growing up. I can’t wait to ride him in the Plate.”
Harry Rice, East Coast Racing Manager with MyRacehorse, is anticipating another strong effort from Duke of Love.
“I think we’re just seeing the beginning of something special. I’ve been in racing my whole life and if we were to win this, I’d cry my eyes out. That’s just how I am. Big wins, I get emotional. It’s awesome.”
Causin’ Mayhem, trained by Todd Pletcher (who won the 1998 Plate with Archers Bay) for owner-breeder Chiefswood Stables, finished third in the Plate Trial, in what was his third lifetime start.
A son of Into Mischief-Five N Forty, Causin’ Mayhem finished second in his career bow this March at Gulfstream Park. The bay colt broke his maiden next time out at Belmont, ahead of his bronze performance in the Plate Trial.
Rob Landry, who won the 2004 Plate with Niigon (also a Chiefswood homebred), and currently holds the reins as the operations General Manager, hopes the lightly raced Ontario-bred can step up and tackle the 1 ¼ miles on Sunday.
“A homebred is extra special,” said Landry. “You’re involved in the whole program from start to finish. To win with a homebred is really gratifying, as a breeder that’s what you aim for, you want to win the big races.”
Dancin in Da’nile, a Sam-Son Farm homebred, will look to back on track after a fifth in the Plate Trial.
Trained by Gail Cox, who teamed with five-time Plate winner Sam-Son Farm and El Tormenta to win the 2019 running of the Grade 1 $1million Ricoh Woodbine Mile, the dark bay son of Pioneerof the Nile-Dance Again is 1-1-1 from five lifetime starts.
Dancin in Da’nile won at first asking last August and went on to finish second to Plate rival The Minkster in the Coronation Futurity Stakes last October.
“He’s run well in every race, and he always tries,” said Cox. “I would say that his best racing attributes are that he’s rateable and easy to ride.”
A bay son of Hunters Bay-Lady Marchfield, Hunt Master has reached the podium in all six of his starts, racking up two wins, two seconds and a pair of thirds.
Conditioned by Angus Buntain for Susan Rasmussen’s Openwood Farm, the gelding will make his first stakes appearance in the Plate.
Hunt Master heads into Sunday’s race off a second-place finish in a 1 1/16-mile race over the Woodbine Tapeta on July 15.
“I think he’s a good little sort of grinder, an off-the-pace stamina sort,” said Buntain. “I’m very excited about him. We don’t know if my guy will particularly love the distance, at speed, so to speak. That’s going to be a real test for him. It’s a big jump up in class, but he is bred for it.”
Emma-Jayne Wilson, who piloted Mike Fox to Plate glory in 2007, will be in the saddle on Sunday.
Multiple stakes winner Ironstone is trained by William Armata, son of 2002 Plate-winning trainer Vito Armata.
“I’ve got a lot of people telling me what I’m crazy, with the distance,” said the younger Armata. “But I guess we’ll find out on August 21. Anything can happen, and my father probably proved that to everybody.”
Owned by Tequesta Racing Inc., and Jupiter Leasing Co., Ironstone, 2-3-3 from nine starts, has posted a trio of thirds in his past three outings, including his most recent engagement, the Grade 3 Marine Stakes.
Last year’s winner of the Simcoe and Clarendon Stakes will be ridden by leading rider Kazushi Kimura, who returns to action after an on-track spill in July.
Canadian Hall of Fame trainer Sid Attard, who finished second in last year’s race with Stronach Stables’ homebred Riptide Rock, will look to go one better this time around, as he sends out Shamateur.
Bred and owned by Stronach Stables, the son of 2015 Plate winner Shaman Ghost will make his fourth career stakes appearance on Sunday.
Shamateur arrives at the Plate off a second in a 1 1/16-mile turf race on July 1.
“He loves to go out there and train,” said Attard. “When he works, he won’t pull up, the son of a gun. The [Queen’s Plate] distance should be good for him – it’s just the company, you know?”
Sunday’s card also features a trio of standout stakes action: the Grade 2 $200,000 Canadian Stakes Presented by the Japan Racing Association (second jewel in the Ladies of the Lawn Series), the Grade 2 $200,000 King Edward Stakes, and the $125,000 Sweet Briar Too Stakes.
First race post time for Sunday is 12:25 p.m. (ET), with the featured Queen’s Plate scheduled for 5:42 p.m. (ET). The national Plate broadcast will be televised on TSN and CTV starting at 4:30 p.m.
For the latest information, fans can follow @WoodbineTB on both Twitter and Instagram.
Post – Horse – Trainer – Owner – Jockey – Morning Line Odds
1 – Hall of Dreams – Mark Casse – Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Peter Deutsch, and Leonard Schleifer – Patrick Husbands – 12-1
2 – Shamateur – Sid Attard – Stronach Stables – Luis Contreras – 30-1
3 – Ironstone – William Armata – Tequesta Racing Inc. and Jupiter Racing Co. – Kazushi Kimura – 12-1
4 – The Minkster – Danny Vella – Sea Glass Stables, LLC – David Moran – 10-1
5 – Duke of Love – Josie Carroll – MyRacehorse – Justin Stein – 5-1
6 – Rondure – Katerina Vassilieva – Borders Racing Stable Ltd. – Flavien Prat – 3-1
7 – Dancin in Da’nile – Gail Cox – Sam-Son Farm – Shaun Bridgmohan – 30-1
8 – Moira – Kevin Attard – X-Men Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, and SF Racing LLC – Rafael Hernandez – 5-2
9 – Hunt Master – Angus Buntain – Openwood Farm – Emma-Jayne Wilson – 30-1
10 – Sir for Sure – Mark Casse – Heste Sport Inc. – David Carroll – 8-1
11 – Causin’ Mayhem – Todd Pletcher – Chiefswood Stable – Antonio Gallardo – 6-1
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