TORONTO, May 3, 2023 – Woodbine Entertainment, Canada’s largest racetrack operator, announced today that grandstand tickets to the first King’s Plate in over 70 years go on-sale to the general public this Saturday, May 6 at 10 a.m., coinciding with King Charles III’s coronation. Woodbine Entertainment also unveiled The Plate’s new logo today.
The Plate, which is the longest continuously run stakes race in North Americaand Canada’s most prestigious race for three-year old Canadian Thoroughbreds, has been run under the moniker of The Queen’s Plate for decades. Following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 and the accession of King Charles III, Woodbine Entertainment announced in December that it would rename the race to The King’s Plate. The race was known as The King’s Plate from 1902 to 1951.
“We are thrilled to launch tickets sales and unveil this new brand for The King’s Plate which honours tradition while showcasing the prestigiousness of the event in a progressive and contemporary way,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. “The Plate is Canada’s biggest race for Canadian Thoroughbreds, but it’s become so much more – a true celebration of our sport and a can’t miss social occasion on the Toronto summer calendar. We look forward to celebrating The King’s Plate later this year and launch this new era of our marquee event.”
This year’s 164th running of the $1 million race at Woodbine Racetrack will be contested on Sunday, August 20. Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased by visiting Ticketmaster.ca. Information about tickets for additional event spaces and dining rooms will be made available in the coming weeks.
The Plate is the first of leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown and is followed by the Prince of Wales Stakes run at Fort Erie Race Track, and the Breeders’ Stakes run at Woodbine Racetrack.
Canada’s oldest and most prestigious Thoroughbred race enters a new era
Toronto ON – December 7, 2022 – Woodbine Entertainment is pleased to announce that The Queen’s Plate, North America’s longest continuously run stakes race, will once again be known as The King’s Plate.
This exciting next chapter of Canada’s premier Thoroughbred horse race, which will take place on Sunday, August 20 in 2023, follows the September 2022 accession of King Charles III.
The 2023 edition will mark the 164th running of the prestigious, $1 million-stakes race historically named in honour of the reigning monarch, which has become one of the highest-profile events in Canadian sports. The Plate is the first of leg of the Canadian Triple Crown and followed by the Prince of Wales Stakes run at Fort Erie Race Track, and the Breeders’ Stakes run at Woodbine Racetrack.
“The Plate is one of the most celebrated events in horse racing, and we’re proud to celebrate its history while starting a new chapter under the banner of The King’s Plate,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “Those who attend can expect more than elite-level horse racing. They can soak in the elements of food, fashion and culture that have become associated with this prestigious annual event while enjoying moments designed for a new generation of race fans. We’re excited to share more details about The King’s Plate in the months to come.”
The story of The Queen’s Plate began in 1859 when the president of the Toronto Turf Club, Sir Casimir Gzowski, petitioned for an annual horse racing prize awarded by Queen Victoria to Canadian-bred horses. The prize from the British monarchy, which continues to this day, is the value of 50 guineas (a defunct British gold coin no longer minted).
Following the succession of King Edward VII in 1901, the event changed its name to The King’s Plate (and would remain so during the reign of George V, Edward VIII, and George VI), before once again returning to The Queen’s Plate (Queen Elizabeth II) in 1952, the moniker it held for the last 70 years.
The 164th running will celebrate the tradition and style fans have come to expect while embracing the transformative spirit that comes with the royal succession.
The King’s Plate is scheduled to take place at Woodbine Racetrack and run on the Tapeta track at a distance of a mile and a quarter on Sunday, August 20. Entry conditions for the 2023 King’s Plate are unchanged and the race remains open to all three-year-old thoroughbred horses foaled in Canada.
The 163rd Queen’s Plate in 2022 was a sold-out event that attracted an estimated 15,000 spectators and hundreds of thousands of viewers on CTV and TSN. Moira, the winning thoroughbred, set a Plate record time of 2:01.48 in one of the most exciting finishes in race history.
Woodbine Entertainment also plans to celebrate and honour the late Queen Elizabeth II in 2023 for her contributions and support of the event and Thoroughbred horse racing in Canada for the last 70 years.
TORONTO, August 21, 2022 – Moira was once again masterful in victory, the daughter of Ghostzapper-Devine Aida trouncing her 10 rivals to the tune of a seven-length triumph in the 163rd running of the $1 million Queen’s Plate, Sunday at Woodbine.
If there was any question as to what type of encore the Ontario-bred filly would come up with after a brilliant 10 ¾ lengths score in the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser three weeks ago, Moira had a most emphatic answer, punctuated by a primetime performance in front of an aprreciative crowd.
Owned by X-Men Racing LLC, Madaket Stables LLC and SF Racing LLC and trained by Kevin Attard, the bay, under Rafael Hernandez, was at the top of her game, posting a track and Plate record time of 2:01.48.
Multiple stakes winner The Minkster broke sharply and took the lead with Ironstone and Sir for Sure picking up the pursuit as the field moved in front of the grandstand for the first time. Moira, tucked in ninth, was running comfortably through the opening quarter timed in :23.75.
The Minkster, who won last year’s Coronation Futurity and this year’s Queenston, maintained his 1 1/2 -length lead over fellow multiple stakes winner Ironstone, with Sir for Sure and Causin’ Mayhem positioned in third and fourth, respectively, at the half in :47.58.
As The Minskter and Ironstone began to battle it out on the front end, Hernandez roused Moira around the turn for home and the fleet-footed filly responded with a devastating late turn of foot, breezing by her foes, and effortlessly gliding to the lead.
Once striking front, it was game over, as Moira widened her advantage with ease, converting a three-length lead at the stretch call into a seven-length tour de force, producing one of the most impressive Plate performances ever. Hall of Dreams was second, with Sir for Sure, another Mark Casse trainee, in third. Ironstone was fourth.
Moira and Rafael Hernandez winning the 163rd running of The Queen’s Plate. (Michael Burns Photo)
“It’s unbelievable,” said Hernandez, who teamed with Shaman Ghost to win the 2015 Plate. “You know, with good horses, you can get out of trouble so quick and always get a second, or third gear like her. Sat off, save ground, and when you want to get out of the horses in front of you, you just move out, and she gave me everything. She gave me another gear, and when we turned for home, she was unbelievable. She’s something else. She is so special.”
“This win is for her [Hernandez’s late grandmother], and all my family enjoyed the moment,” he continued. “It’s unbelievable for me, because this is home. This [Canada] is home now and to be the first one for Kevin, it makes it so special.”
For Attard, it was an emotional and treasured moment, one he had dreamt about since he launched his training career.
In 2007, he finished second with Alezzandro. Today, 15 years later, he was able to go one better.
“I’ve been down this path with a few horses that I thought I’ve had chances. Obviously, I was really excited today with this filly. But it’s just such a hard race to win and you don’t know. But you know, I’m here now and I got this trophy in my hand I worked really hard. I have a great staff. And it’s just a great moment and I’m so happy right now.”
With the win, Moira, bred by Adena Springs, became the eighth filly to notch the Oaks-Plate double, joining such greats as Dance Smartly, Flaming Page, Holy Helena, Inglorious, and Lexie Lou.
Moira and Rafael Hernandez winning the 163rd running of The Queen’s Plate. (Michael Burns Photo)
Moira, who has won all three of her 2022 engagements, is now 4-1-0 from five career starts.
“You know Kevin, he’s the best,” praised Donato Lanni, a highly successful bloodstock agent, who formed X-Men Racing. “I’ve known Kevin since ‘04, and he’s an unbelievable trainer, his training staff is just phenomenal. Everybody employed is phenomenal.”
As is his Plate champion.
“She’s such a nice filly. She’s an amazing filly. We’re just fortunate to be here with a good group of guys.”
The $400,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, a 1 3/16-mile race over Fort Erie’s dirt oval on September 13, is the next race in the tri-surface OLG Canadian Triple Crown series, which concludes with the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes at 1 ½-miles over Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course on October 2.
Wando, in 2003, was the last horse to sweep the series and the seventh since its exception in 1959.
Moira returned $5.60, $3.40 and $2.90, combining with Hall of Dreams ($10.60, $7.10) for a $64.10 exactor. Sir for Sure ($7.10) completed a $400 triactor. Ironstone rounded out a $1 superfecta that returned $1,353.90.
TORONTO, August 10, 2022 – Woodbine Entertainment announced today that platinum-selling Canadian country duo, The Reklaws, have been named the celebrity ambassadors for this year’s 163rd running of The Queen’s Plate on Sunday, August 21 at Woodbine Racetrack.
Reklaws at Queen’s Plate 2022
Comprised of siblings Jenna and Stuart Walker, The Reklaws are multiple-time CCMA Award winners and have received multiple JUNO Awards nominations. The duo has amassed 250 million-plus streams globally along with 10 gold and seven platinum-certified tracks.
As Queen’s Plate celebrity ambassadors, The Reklaws will take the stage at Woodbine for a special performance, which will also be broadcast live on CTV and TSN (4 p.m. ET). The duo will also perform the ceremonial ‘Riders Up’ call just prior to The Queen’s Plate race.
The Reklaws are no strangers to Woodbine and The Queen’s Plate, having mixed their rural roots and country music fame with the sport of horse racing on multiple occasions. The Reklaws performed the national anthem at The Queen’s Plate in 2018 and teamed with Woodbine in 2020 to film the music video for their single “Where I’m From”, which helped raise funds for racehorse aftercare programs.
“The Reklaws have been great friends of Woodbine and to the horse racing industry, so it makes perfect sense that we welcome them back as this year’s Queen’s Plate celebrity ambassadors,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. “It’s been a treat to watch their continued success and we know they will deliver a great performance on Plate day.”
“We’re so excited to be returning to the 163rd Queen’s Plate – it’s always one of our favourite events of the summer,” said the Reklaws’ Stuart Walker. “We’re really humbled to have been asked to join Plate day as a celebrity ambassador and are looking forward to taking the stage to get the party started this year,” echoed Jenna Walker.
Tickets to this year’s Queen’s Plate are on sale now through Ticketmaster.ca with multiple options available. Grandstand seats are selling fast, while limited dining packages and premium experiences also remain.
The Ketel One Clubhouse Social is the ultimate premium Queen’s Plate experience, providing an enchanting social experience that highlights fashion, delectable gourmet treats, live music and much more in a relaxing yet sophisticated setting.
To view more details on Queen’s Plate ticket and experience options, click here.
TORONTO, May 25, 2022 – Tickets for the 163rd running of The Queen’s Plate, Sunday, August 21 at Woodbine Racetrack, go on sale Thursday morning at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster.ca.
The Queen’s Plate, the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, is North America’s oldest continuously run stakes event, showcasing Canada’s top three-year-old Thoroughbreds.
Recognized as one of Toronto’s hottest summer events, this year’s Queen’s Plate will continue the great tradition of a fashion-forward day at the races, featuring live entertainment, unique dining experiences and world-class horse racing.
“The pageantry and vibrant energy of The Queen’s Plate at Woodbine is truly one of our country’s great annual events,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. “Our team is excited to once again deliver one of the best parties of the summer on August 21.”
Guests attending this year’s Queen’s Plate can choose from the following admission, seating and dining options:
General Admission Grandstand Seating Ketel One Clubhouse Social Trackside Apron Experience Favourites Restaurant Garden Party
To purchase tickets for the 163rd Queen’s Plate, click here.
For the latest information of The Queen’s Plate and events at Woodbine Racetrack, visit Woodbine.com or follow @WoodbineTB on social media.
Messier tops initial Queen’s Plate Power Rankings
As part of the lead up to the 163rd running of The Queen’s Plate, Woodbine will regularly release power rankings of the top eligible horses for this year’s race.
Queen’s Plate Winterbook favourite Messier received five of the six first-place votes and tops the initial rankings.
Bred by Sam-Son Farms, Messier recently competed in the Kentucky Derby where he faded to finish 15th after being involved in a record-setting hot early pace battle. The son of Empire Maker had never missed the top-two in six prior starts, with his top results being victories in the Bob Hope (Gr. 3), Robert B. Lewis (Gr. 3) and a runner-up effort in the Santa Anita Derby (Gr. 1).
Messier shipped back to California for trainer Tim Yakteen following the Derby and his next start has not been confirmed.
Sea Glass Stables’ The Minkster slots in second on the power rankings, receiving the only other first-place vote. The Daniel Vella trainee breezed five-furlongs on May 21 at Woodbine in 1:01:00 over the Tapeta surface.
The Minkster went two for two last season, which included a high-profile victory in the Coronation Futurity. The last horse to complete the Coronation Futurity-Queen’s Plate double was Norcliffe in 1975.
Sovereign Award winner God of Love is ranked third despite being sidelined since March. Trainer Mark Casse told Woodbine Communications this week that God of Love is doing well and will start breezing again soon.
Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber, God of Love captured last season’s Cup and Saucer Stakes and Grey Stakes (Gr. 3). His lone start of 2022 was a sixth-place finish in the Sam F. Davis (Gr. 3) at Tampa Bay.
Star filly Moira, who was rated third on The Queen’s Plate Winterbook, is ranked fourth. The Kevin Attard trainee is the early-favourite for this year’s Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, and her morning works are picking up towards her season debut.
The top-five is completed by Casse student Sir for Sure, who recently shipped up to Woodbine from Casse’s training centre in Ocala, Florida. Sir for Sure won his lone start of 2022 in a Maiden Special Weight on February 5 at Gulfstream Park and was second in last November’s Frost King Stakes at Woodbine.
Fans can track the power rankings and all information regarding the Queen’s Plate by visiting QueensPlate.com and on Woodbine Entertainment’s social media platforms via @WoodbineTB.
Queen’s Plate Power Rankings (March 25, 2022)
Rank – Horse – Career Record – Earnings – Trainer – Points – First Place Votes
1: Messier – 7-3-3-0 – $435,600 – Tim Yakteen – 28 – 5
2: The Minkster – 2-2-0-0 – $166,223 – Daniel Vella – 17 – 1
3: God of Love – 5-2-0-0 – $212,993 – Mark Casse – 17 – 0
4: Moira – 2-1-1-0 – $149,415 – Kevin Attard – 14 – 0
5: Sir for Sure – 3-1-1-0 – $53,542 – Mark Casse – 6 – 0
Honourable Mention: Ironstone, Duke of Love, Dancin in Da’Nile Sahlabiya
“Kentucky Derby is a total toss, but still have questions should they decide to run (at Woodbine) with surface being one of them. Back class alone warrants favouritism.” – Sheri Riddoch
“Could be pointed to the Plate after a disappointing Kentucky Derby.” – Ron Gierkink
“Cooked by hot pace of Kentucky Derby, but dangerous on front end with the right scenario despite some distance concerns.” – Robert Geller
“Derby runner is kind of like the 2022 Weyburn. He’s the top pick if he shows up but will likely stay south of the 49th.” – Jason Portuondo
“Possesses natural speed as seen on the stretch out in the Coronation Futurity to stay undefeated. Bred to handle turf too.” – Robert Geller
“Winner of the Coronation Futurity – only race twice and won both by daylight.” – Sheri Riddoch
“Looking to break the curse of the Coronation Futurity.” – Jeff Bratt
The Minkster winning the 2021 Coronation Futurity. (Michael Burns photo)
God of Love
“Cup and Saucer/Grey champ is working his way back after injury.” – Jason Portuondo
“Champion 2-Year-Old has been idle since Sam Davis. Has run on all three surfaces which is an asset.” – Sheri Riddoch
“A very talented Casse trainee that should appreciate the added furlongs.” – Monique Vág
God of Love winning the 2021 Grey Stakes. (Michael Burns photo)
“Yet to make her 2022 debut but has shown natural talent.” – Sheri Riddoch
“Princess Elizabeth heroine shows strong works gearing up for sophomore debut.” – Jason Portuondo
Moira winning the 2021 Princess Elizabeth. (Michael Burns photo)
Sir for Sure
“Up-and-comer graduated on the Tapeta at Gulfstream.” – Ron Gierkink
TORONTO, December 1, 2021 – Woodbine Entertainment today announced the 163rd running of the $1 million Queen’s Plate, first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, will be held on Sunday, August 21, 2022 at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto.
Contested annually to showcase Canada’s finest three-year-old Thoroughbreds, The Queen’s Plate is one of the country’s premier sporting events and North America’s oldest continuously run stakes race.
Following a successful 162nd running in August 2021, The Queen’s Plate will remain in a late-August position for the 2022 racing season at Woodbine. The most recent edition of the prestigious race generated the second highest wagering handle in event history and saw Safe Conduct defeat a dozen rivals to capture the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.
“We’re excited about the prospects of another tremendous running of The Queen’s Plate in August 2022,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. “The new date was very successful, as evident by the wagering numbers and the large competitive field that provided a thrilling race from start to finish.
“Welcoming fans to our facility for this year’s Queen’s Plate brought an electric feeling back to Woodbine and we have our eyes set on producing one of Toronto’s top sporting and social events for the summer of 2022.”
Jockey, Irad Ortiz Jr., guides Safe Conduct to victory in the 162nd edition of the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine. (Michael Burns Photo)
Ticket details for the 163rd running of The Queen’s Plate will be released in the coming months.
Woodbine Entertainment also announced Wednesday the intentions to run a 133-date Thoroughbred meet next season. The 2022 racing season is tentatively scheduled to begin on Saturday, April 16 and conclude on Sunday, December 11.
Race dates for the 2022 season are currently being reviewed for final approval by the Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
Fans and racing participants can visit Woodbine.com or follow @WoodbineTB on social media for the latest news and updates regarding live racing at Woodbine Racetrack.
Toronto, ON – August 26, 2021 – After successfully welcoming back spectators to The Queen’s Plate this past weekend, Woodbine Entertainment’s 2020 ‘QP @ Home’ campaign has been named a finalist for the Best Use of Instagram in the third annual Hashtag Sports Awards presented by Budweiser.
Without spectators being permitted to attend The Queen’s Plate in 2020, Woodbine Entertainment developed and executed a digital strategy to bring the prestigious event’s traditions of music, fashion, gourmet food and drinks, and thrilling horse racing directly to fans across the country.
The Queen’s Plate, the first leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, is the longest-continuously run Thoroughbred stakes race in North America. This year was the 162nd Edition.
Living largely on Instagram, Woodbine Entertainment partnered with a stable of multi-platform content creators, celebrities and musicians to contribute unique #QueensPlate inspired content to bring the experience home.
Leading up to the big day, Instagram was used to ”invite” Canada to host their own celebrations through online contests, recipes, fashion insights and wagering tips.
On September 12th, The Social’sMelissa Grelo hosted a “party” on Instagram Live while creator and Woodbine accounts shared racing content, lifestyle videos and exclusive live “look-ins” to their celebrations.
Sponsors Moxie’s Bar & Grill hosted COVID-19 friendly events on select patios across the country along with providing 12 fans the chance to see The Reklaws perform an intimate concert.
In place of the traditional on-track concerts, music videos were filmed at the racetrack and shared on Instagram through the “Woodbine Sessions” featuring Universal Music artists Ryland James and Jade Eagleson.
Fans new to wagering were invited to “play along” with their favourite personalities on the innovative Dark Horse Bets app. Built for the next generation of racing fans, Dark Horse Bets uses artificial intelligence to simplify the wagering experience for new players.
QP @ Home generated 18 million impressions across social media and saw a 30 percent increase to Woodbine Entertainment’s Instagram followers. The uniquely developed content drove 400,000 video views with a 12 percent average engagement rate across Woodbine Entertainment & Partner/Creator channels.
On September 12th, more than 24,000 fans tuned in to the Instagram Live & #QueensPlate became trending nation-wide on social. With the help of sponsors, Woodbine Entertainment hosted its largest contest to-date generating 1.8 million impressions, over 3,600 entries & resulting in a 7.8 percent increase in Instagram followers from the contest alone.
The overall growth in followers and engagement directly impacted wagering, a key pillar for the business. The Queen’s Plate generated $14.5 million in wagering, the third highest handle in history and saw a four times increase in activity on Dark Horse Bets on September 12th. The event also successfully engaged the coveted 25 to 44-year-old demographic, including 40% female, aligning to Woodbine Entertainment’s objective to engage new, more diverse fans to horse racing and wagering.
The Queen’s Plate broadcast on CTV and TSN had over 1 million Canadians tune-in at some point during the show.
“Not being permitted to host spectators at The Queen’s Plate last year motivated us to ensure that the exciting traditions of the event that so many Canadians love would live on. Through QP @ Home, we delivered everything a guest would experience at a typical Queen’s Plate right to the palm of our fans’ hands.”
“QP @ Home was also an important strategy to reach beyond our core and connect with an entirely new demographic. Overall, we were very pleased about the results and are proud to be a finalist for the Hashtag Sports Awards – in large part thanks to our fans.”
All Sources Handle Up 11% from 2020
TORONTO, August 23, 2021 – Safe Conduct’s triumph in Sunday’s 162nd running of The Queen’s Plate, the first leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, highlighted a tremendous day of world-class racing at Woodbine Racetrack that produced the second-highest wagering handle in event history.
A total of $16,122,170 was wagered on Sunday’s 13-race card, including $3,491,564 on The Queen’s Plate. The total handle is second-only to the 2019 event total of $18,005,973 and tops the 2020 handle of $14,532,678 by 11%.
“This year’s Queen’s Plate brought the energy of our great sport back in full-force to Woodbine with an outstanding crowd and thrilling racing,” said Jim Lawson. “It’s evident that this excitement was felt across North America and we’re elated to see the support this great day of racing received as part of the continued growth of the Woodbine brand.
“On behalf of Woodbine, a sincere thank you to our staff, partners, horse racing community, horseplayers and fans for adding to the storied history of The Queen’s Plate.”
The Queen’s Plate card included a trio of Grades Stakes races, 11 turf course races and several multi-leg wager guarantees. Horseplayers saw several generous payouts, including a 70-1 upset by Mambointheforest ($161.70) in the eighth-race. The Late Pick-5, which generated a pool of $491,899, featured three stakes contests as part of the sequence and returned $12,795.65 for a $1 ticket ($2,559.13 for $0.20).
With post time favourites going four for 13 on the program, the average $2 Win price (excluding the 70-1 upset) was $12.40.
The last time The Queen’s Plate was run on a Sunday it generated a handle of $11 million (2017). The three previous Queen’s Plate cards were run on Saturday.
Live racing resumes Thursday afternoon at Woodbine and continues Thursday through Sunday for the remainder of the season. Fans and horseplayers can watch and wager on each day of racing through HPIbet.com or the newly redesigned Dark Horse Bets App, available for Apple and Android devices.
PHOTO BY MICHAEL BURNS
Safe Conduct digs in for jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. to win the 162nd Queen’s Plate on Sunday at Woodbine Racetrack.
TORONTO, August 22, 2021 – The 162nd running of The Queen’s Plate was the crown jewel for a tremendous 13-race card on Sunday afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack. The stellar undercard included the Grade 1 Highlander, Grade 2 Dance Smartly and Grade 3 Ontario Colleen.
Our Flash Drive plugged-in for Grade 3 Ontario Colleen score
TORONTO, August 22, 2021 – Our Flash Drive, under Patrick Husbands, was full of run down the lane en route to an impressive win in the Grade 3 $150,000 Ontario Colleen Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Sunday at Woodbine.
One of two Mark Casse trainees in the seven-horse field, Our Flash Drive broke well and was positioned second, as Sweet Souper Sweet, also owned by Live Oak Plantation, grabbed the lead in the one-mile turf tilt, and took her rivals through an opening quarter-mile in :24.42.
Sweet Souper Sweet continued to lead the proceedings after a half in :48.35, as Husbands bided his time with Our Flash Drive. Speightstown Shirl and Perseverancia followed in third and fourth, respectively, while 8-5 choice Misspell was called upon by Irad Ortiz Jr. as the field rounded the turn for home.
Husbands had Our Flash Drive rolling for the long drive home, and the daughter of Ghostzapper responded in kind, separating herself from her rivals with ease, going in to a 1 ½-length triumph in a time of 1:34.76 over firm going under humid conditions.
Seasons rallied to finish second, 1 ¼-lengths ahead of Speightstown Shirl. Perseverancia was fourth.
Our Flash Drive and Patrick Husbands winning the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen. (Michael Burns photo)
“I breezed her on Sunday (August 15)… when I got back to the barn, my head was bigger than Woodbine,” said Husbands. “I said ‘Mark, this is a Breeders’ Cup horse.’ She just loved it [the turf].
“She’s a relaxed horse,” continued Husbands. “We had a couple of horses we worked – I was behind them about 10, 15 lengths and she was just wanting the green light. I said, ‘No baby, no baby, no baby’ and that was on Sunday. She’s the type of filly that, what you want to do, she’ll let you do. But she’s pretty savvy racing and you can decide what to do with her.”
It was fifth start and third win for the Live Oak homebred, who came into the Ontario Colleen off a an impressive victory in the Grade 3 Selene Stakes on July 10 at Woodbine.
Sent postward as the 3-1 second choice, Our Flash Drive returned $6.90 to win.
“She’s the type of filly that has a very serious streak in there,” said Husbands. “She doesn’t like horses running with her; she doesn’t like horses at all. I was getting out of the paddock early, and then getting to the gates she just started. And we just hope that she gets right past.”
Salty as Can Be, also trained by Casse, was scratched.
Mutamakina makes the grade in Grade 2 Dance Smartly
TORONTO, August 22, 2021 – Mutamakina, benefitting from a strong tactical ride by Dylan Davis, took charge straightening for home and held sway for a half-length victory in Sunday’s $180,950 Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes over 1 ¼-miles on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Invading from Saratoga for trainer Christophe Clement, Mutamakina held off fellow Spa shipper Etoile, who had won last fall’s Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes over the same course and distance.
Alnaseem, sent to the front early after beginning from post six in the field of seven fillies and mares, led through fractions of :25.98, :50.32 and 1:14.07, with Mutamakina just one length back.
“I saw the four-horse had some good speed,” said Davis, who was riding his first stakes winner at Woodbine. ”I broke well [and] was able to get a good stalking position right there.
“She did switch her leads down the backside a few times. She just needed a little bit of guidance. I had to get into her early. I was a little worried about that. Once she straightened up, she saw where she needed to go and she ran very strongly to the wire.”
Mutamakina reached the mile in 1:37.13 and led by two lengths with a furlong to run before finishing in 2:01.26 over a course rated firm.
Mutamakina and Dylan Davis winning the Grade 2 Dance Smartly. (Michael Burns photo)
Etoile, the 6-5 favourite for trainer Chad Brown and leading North American race-winning rider Irad Ortiz Jr., saved ground in fifth place early and launched a bid around the final turn but could not reach the winner.
Merveilleux, based locally with conditioner Kevin Attard, finished well to be third, just a neck behind Etoile.
Court Return, beaten just a neck as the runner-up in last year’s E.P. Taylor, Stakes, trailed the field early and finished well to be fourth, another half-length back.
Rounding out the order of finish were Blame Debbie, the 4-1 third choice, Alnaseem and Afleet Katherine.
Mutamakina returned $8.80, with the $2 exacta with Etoile coming back at $16.50. Merveilleux, the 7-1 fourth choice, rounded out a $110.90 trifecta ($1) and Court Return, the longest shot on the board at 22-1, completed a $1 superfecta worth $273.30.
A 5-year-old bred in England by Wigham Stud, Mutamakina is by Nathaniel out of the Danehill mare Joshua’s Princess.
Beginning her career in France, Mutamakina won twice and placed twice in Group 2 company before joining Clement in the fall of 2020. The Dance Smartly was her second Grade 3 win on this side of the pond, following the Long Island at Aqueduct last fall in her only previous partnership with Davis.
“I’m just happy to be back aboard her,” said Davis. “It’s just nice. She’s progressing well. She’s definitely a hard trier – you just got to know how to ride her. She always gives a good effort and Clemente had her ready today.”
The Dance Smartly was the first leg of this year’s Ladies of the Lawn, in support of ReThink Breast Cancer. The series continues with the Canadian Stakes on September 18 and concludes with the E.P. Taylor Stakes October 17. Each race will be contested over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
The owner of the horse who has accumulated the most points in the series will receive a $50,000 bonus, with the owners of the second and third-place horses receiving $15,000 and $10,000, respectively.
Silent Poet rhymes off Grade 1 Highlander win
TORONTO, August 22, 2021 – Silent Poet, showing a new dimension after disappointing front-running tries in his first two starts this year, rallied from just off the pace and held off an onrushing Admiralty Pier to capture Sunday’s Grade 1 $395,500 Highlander Stakes by a diminishing half-length with Justin Stein aboard.
Caravel, the 2-5 choice, while seeking her fourth straight victory in what was hoped to be a prelude to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, finished third in the field of eight for the six-furlong turf race on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Silent Poet was the first Grade 1 stakes winner for trainer Nick Gonzalez and third for Stein, who won last year’s Ricoh Woodbine Mile with Starship Jubilee.
“Justin and I have been talking about it right up until this race,” said Gonzalez, “and he said ‘You know, Nick, we drew two inside post positions his first two starts.’ “I break, ‘Poet’ breaks well, and I’ve got these guys on the outside of me chirping, chirping, chirping, and ‘Poet’ wouldn’t relax…he used himself a lot more than he would of in the first eighth of the race. And he backed up both times.”
Silent Poet and Justin Stein winning the Grade 1 Highlander. (Michael Burns photo)
Silent Poet drew the outside post for the Highlander, facilitating the change in tactics.
“When the overnight came out and we had the eight-hole, Justin came by in the morning and said, ‘Nick, I think we’re going to be able to get a nice trip today.’ Everything worked out,” said Gonzalez.
Caravel, with Queen’s Plate-winning rider Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons, assumed command early and clicked off an opening quarter in :22.35 en route to a half mile in :45.16.
Silent Poet, who had stalked from third and moved to within a half-length of Caravel with a quarter-mile to run, had collared the choice and led by a half-length with a furlong to run before hanging on for the half-length win in 1:07.98 on a course rated firm.
Admiralty Pier, last at the quarter pole, finished strongly on the far outside to nail down second money, 1 ¼-lengths ahead of Caravel.
City Boy finished another three-quarters of a length back in fourth with Honey Won’t, Chuck Willis, Old Chestnut, and Turned Aside rounding out the order of finish.
Silent Poet, a 6-year-old Adena Springs homebred by Silent Name out of the Ghostzapper mare Cara Bella, was winning for the 11th time in 22 career outings, all at Woodbine. Those successes include Grade 2 scores in the 2019 Play the King and the 2020 Connaught Cup and Nearctic, all on the turf.
There’s a possibility Silent Poet could contest the Grade 1 $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile on September 18.
He returned $21.90 to win and the exacta with 12-1 Admiralty Pier was $177.20 for $1. Caravel completed a $197.35 trifecta ($1) and 15-1 City Boy rounded out a $1 superfecta worth $1,183.45.
In other action, 79-1 Mambointheforest ($161.10 to win) and jockey Sahin Civaci took the first leg – 1 3/8-miles on the inner course – of the Woodbine Turf Endurance Series for trainer Ron Sadler and owner Phillip Lanning.
The Turf Endurance Series continues with a 1 ½-mile trek over the inner turf on September 12, and a 1 ¾-mile marathon on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course on October 3.
TORONTO, August 22, 2021 – Safe 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.
Bred by Ontario’s Mitchell Kursner, the bay colt had never raced over the Toronto oval Tapeta prior to the 1 ¼-mile classic.
With Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, Safe Conduct’s Canadian debut was certainly a thrilling and memorable one, winning the first leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing.
Safe Conduct and Irad Ortiz Jr. held off Riptide Rock to win the 162nd Queen’s Plate. (Michael Burns photo)
Sent off as the slight 3-1 choice, Safe Conduct, trained by Phillip Serpe and owned by WellSpring Stables, broke well from post one 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 quarter in :24.01. Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser 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 half reached in :48.37.
As the field rounded the turn, Safe Conduct, on the inside, struck front, maintaining a half-length lead over Keep Grinding at Robert Geller’s stretch call. Riptide Rock, last at the quarter and half, 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 seven starts. He broke his maiden in his second engagement, a 1 ¼-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.”
The $400,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, a 1 3/16-mile race over Fort Erie’s dirt oval on September 14, is the next race in the tri-surface OLG Canadian Triple Crown series, which winds up with the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes at 1 ½-miles over Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course on October 3.
Wando, in 2003, was the last horse to sweep the series and the seventh since its exception in 1959.
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). MunnyforRo rounded out a $1 superfecta that returned $7,729.55.