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.
TORONTO, August 21, 2021 – With spectators returning for the first time in two years, Woodbine Entertainment is pleased to announce that Sunday’s 162nd running of The Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racetrack. is officially sold out.
All grandstand, dining, and general admission tickets for this year’s running of The Queen’s Plate have been sold. In accordance with government regulations, this year’s event is limited to 50 per cent capacity.
“We are ecstatic by the energy and anticipation from our fans to be with us for Sunday’s Queen’s Plate,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment “The Queen’s Plate is an event rich in tradition and having fans back to experience this race is exactly how it’s meant to be enjoyed. We’re more than ready to welcome a great crowd with protocols and distancing practices in place and know our fans will enjoy a comfortable day at the races.”
The Queen’s Plate festivities on Sunday at Woodbine include the $1-million race, a performance from Canadian music legend Jim Cuddy, an appearance by Canadian Olympic hero Penny Oleksiak as the celebrity ambassador and the performance of the Canadian National Anthem by rising star Ryland James.
Queen’s Plate tomorrow is now SOLD OUT. Thank you to all of our customers. We are looking forward it having spectators back for #QP21; it will be a memorable experience. Excited for us to be hosting a sold out crowd. Congratulations & thank you to the entire Woodbine Team!
A total of 13-races will be contested on Sunday afternoon. First-race post time is scheduled for 12:25 p.m. and The Queen’s Plate is scheduled as Race 10 at approximately 5:42 p.m.
Fans unable to be in attendance can watch all The Queen’s Plate festivities on CTV and TSN from 4:30-6 p.m. Fans can also watch and wager on the entire day’s racing action through HPIbet.com and the newly redesigned Dark Horse Bets App, available now for Apple and Android devices.
For more information, visit www.Woodbine.com and follow Woodbine Racetrack on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@WoodbineTB).
TORONTO, August 21, 2021 – Woodbine kicked-off Queen’s Plate weekend with a quartet of stakes events on Saturday’s 11-race card. The recaps of each stakes contest are available below.
First Empire rules the roost in Soaring Free
TORONTO, August 21, 2021 – First Empire, prominent throughout, took charge around the final turn and held off Degree of Risk to score by 1 ¾-lengths in Saturday’s $140,250 Soaring Free Stakes at Woodbine.
The Soaring Free, a 6 ½-furlong turf race for 2-year-olds, attracted a field of six and kicked off the first of back-to-back four-stakes programs at the Toronto oval on Queen’s Plate weekend.
First Empire, conditioned by Mark Casse, had finished a faltering fifth when debuting here on the Tapeta, but then was a game front-running winner over six furlongs of turf with returning rider Patrick Husbands in the irons.
“When I breezed him in the morning, he’s okay, but on the grass, as he’s shown in his last two races, he’s a different horse,” said Husbands. “I had so much horse swinging for home. I knew it would take a real nice horse to beat him.”
In the Soaring Free, First Empire pressed Indiana invader Heaven Street while racing just outside through an opening quarter in :22.49 and led that one by a length as he got the half in :44.37.
Degree of Risk, invading from Illinois for trainer Eoin Harty, was making his turf debut and impressed, finishing second, despite racing greenly through the lane.
Heaven Street wound up third, 7 ¼-lengths behind the runner-up.
Twenty Four Mamba, who like First Empire is a son of the Casse-trained Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old Classic Empire, was another 3 ½-lengths back in fourth.
Concealed Carry never menaced in finishing fifth and Silent Farewell, a troubled second behind First Empire when debuting here August 1, failed to enter contention as the 9-5 favourite and checked in last.
The final time was 1:15.44.
First Empire and Patrick Husbands winning the Soaring Free on Saturday at Woodbine. (Michael Burns)
Sent off as the 5-2 second choice, First Empire returned $7.80 and keyed a $53.70 exacta over 9-1 Degree of Risk. Heaven Street, at 5-1, completed a $97.05 ($1) trifecta and the superfecta with Twenty Four Mamba came back at $312.90 for $1.
First Empire, owned by Dick Bonnycastle’s Harlequin Ranches, is out of the Macho Uno mare Silsita and is the first stakes winner for both his dam and his freshman sire. Bred by Saintsbury Farm, First Empire was a $60,000 yearling at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky’s October sale.
Casse won last year’s Soaring Free with Gretzky the Great, who used the race as a stepping-stone to success here in the Grade 1 Summer Stakes and went on to be honoured as Canada’s Outstanding Male Two-Year-Old.
This year’s $400,000 Summer Stakes (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, will be run at Woodbine on September 19.
Diabolic delivers again, this time in Catch A Glimpse
TORONTO, August 21, 2021 – Diabolic, under a patient Antonio Gallardo, found daylight along the rail and took off in the stretch to win the $127,250 Catch A Glimpse Stakes, Saturday at Woodbine.
The daughter of Dark Angel-Seafront arrived at the 6 ½-furlong turf event for 2-year-old fillies off two straight scores to launch her career, including an impressive effort in the My Dear Stakes on July 31 at Woodbine.
Despite acting up in the gate, Diabolic, at even-money, settled down to deliver trainer Mark Casse and owners D.J. Stable LLC & Nexus Racing Club, with a natural hat trick.
Silver Magnatized and Curlin Candy dueled for the early lead as Gallardo and Diabolic were an unhurried seventh of eight through a quarter in :23.19.
After Silver Magnatized took the field through a half-mile in :46.29, Gallardo roused Diabolic, and as the field straightened for home, the pair took aim at the frontrunners, steadily gaining along the inside to grab a one-length lead at the stretch call.
At the wire, Diabolic was a one-length winner in a time of 1:15.81 over firm going. Royal Engagement was second, while Miss Barbara, also a Casse trainee, finished third.
“She ran pretty good off the pace,” said Gallardo after the local prep for the Grade 1 $400,000 Natalma Stakes on September 19, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event. “I saw a couple of horses with speed today going a little longer distance than last time, so I settled down; tried to save some ground. She’s a nice filly. I saw the inside hole and I only asked her a little bit and she just rolled.”
The grey, bred in Ireland by Yeomanstown Stud, paid $4.30 for the win.
“She’s improved,” said Gallardo. “Every race, she tells you she’s something, no matter if it’s five furlongs, 6 ½, Polytrack, 6 ½ on the turf… she’s classy. She can do everything all the time.”
Diabolic (IRE) and Antonio Gallardo winning the Catch A Glimpse on Saturday at Woodbine. (Michael Burns photo)
It was a fitting victory for Casse, who conditioned Catch A Glimpse, Canada’s Horse of the Year, Outstanding 2-Year-Old Filly, and Outstanding Turf Female of 2015 after winning Woodbine’s Grade 1 Natalma and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland.
Corelli captures Singspiel crown
TORONTO, August 21, 2021 – Corelli, under a perfectly-judged ride by Kazushi Kimura, took charge in deep stretch and strolled home a 1 ¾-length winner in Saturday’s Grade 3 $160,800 Singspiel Stakes, run over 1 ¼-miles on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
“Today we got a very bad [post] position, that’s why I focused on the one move,” said Kimura, who had started from the outside. “I’d like to just switch him to the inside, focus on keeping him comfortable. He made a steady pace and just moved so well.”
Corelli, who was giving his trainer Jonathan Thomas his first Canadian victory, had sat patiently towards the rear of the eight-horse field as longshot Peace of Ekati set the pace with 5-2 second choice Belichick keeping close order through a quarter in :25.90, half in :50.55, and six furlongs in 1:14.91.
Belichick moved to the lead in early stretch, holding a half-length advantage through a mile in 1:38.51 and a half-length margin with a furlong to run.
Corelli was on the march, however, and finding a seam in midstretch, was quick to seize the advantage and held the closing English Conqueror at bay while finishing in 2:01.70 over firm ground.
“I watch all the time before the race what’s in the program, watching the horse, watching the jockeys,” said Kimura. “Just hoping that I’d get room [in the stretch]. And I did it.”
English Conqueror, an 11-1 shot, stalked from towards the rear of the field was up to gain the place by a length over Belichick.
Theregoesjojo, at 9-1, was in touch throughout and missed third money by just a neck.
Primo Touch, Peace of Ekati, the 9-5 favourite Eons, and Woodbridge, completed the order of finish.
Corelli, a 6-year-old gelding, is a homebred who races for George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable. Bred in Kentucky, Corelli is by Point of Entry out of the Diesis mare, Vignette, and was recording his first graded stakes score in the Singspiel.
Corelli and Kazushi Kimura winning the Singspiel on Saturday at Woodbine. (Michael Burns photo)
A three-time winner in England, Corelli relocated to North America in 2020, placing in last year’s Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park, and won the listed Henry S. Clark at Pimlico in his 2021 opener.
“He’s a classy horse,” said Kimura. “I’m so appreciative to the owner and the trainer, and I hope I get another mount on him.”
The 7-2 third choice, Corelli returned $9.80 and topped a $104.40 exactor with English Conqueror. The $1 trifecta with Belichick came back at $206.35, and Theregoesjojo bottomed a $1 superfecta of $1,120.15.
Boardroom all business in Seaway
TORONTO, August 21, 2021 – LNJ Foxwoods’ Boardroom was simply brilliant in winning the Grade 3 $155,400 Seaway Stakes on Saturday afternoon at Woodbine.
Luis Contreras looked confident from the moment the gates opened in the seven-furlong Seaway, for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, piloting the Josie Carroll trainee to the easiest of victories in the main track stakes event.
After breaking sharply from the outside post seven, Boardroom was settled comfortably into fourth as Toffen seized the early lead and took her rivals through an opening quarter timed in :23.34, as Hell N Wild and Fiduciary followed in second and third, respectively.
Toffen, ahead by 1 ½-lengths after a half in :46.39, was soon confronted by rivals to her outside, a group that included 6-5 choice Boardroom.
As the field rounded the turn for home, Contreras took a quick glance to see if any closers were coming to call, before giving the 4-year-old daughter of Commissioner her cue.
From there, it was game over.
The duo dashed away from their pursuers with ease, widening their advantage with every stride, crossing the wire 4 ½-length winners. Our Secret Agent finished second, two lengths ahead of Amalfi Coast.
Final time for seven panels over the Tapeta was 1:22.02.
“We had a good break, and I was in control of the race every single step of the way,” said Contreras. “She always surprised me, even in the morning and the afternoon. Every race she gave me, she showed me some improvement. So, I’m very happy with this filly. I love her.”
It was the fifth win, along with one second and a third, from seven starts for Boardroom, who also counts stakes scores in the Duchess and Grade 3 Whimsical.
“She’s just a really special filly,” said Carroll. “I think we knew from the moment she came in that she had the capability, and she’s just blossomed as she’s gotten older. We’re so fortunate that LNJ Foxwoods would send her to us.
“I think we’ll see how she comes out of it, but we do have a great sprint series here at Woodbine. So, it’s a wonderful place for her to be.”
Boardroom and Luis Contreras winning the Seaway on Saturday at Woodbine. (Michael Burns photo)
Bred by Polo Green Stable Inc., Boardroom launched her career with two straight victories, starting last June at Woodbine.
She paid $4.40 for the win.
The 162nd running of the Queen’s Plate is set for Sunday as part of a stakes-filled card at Woodbine. First post is 12:25 p.m.
TORONTO, August 20, 2021 – With The Queen’s Plate just a few days away, Woodbine Entertainment has released the final Queen’s Plate Power Rankings for this year’s 162nd edition.
The 162nd Queen’s Plate will take place on Sunday (August 22) at Woodbine Racetrack. Canada’s most famous horse race will launch the 2021 OLG Canadian Triple Crown, which includes the Prince of Wales on September 14 at Fort Erie and the Breeders’ Stakes on October 3 at Woodbine.
The Power Rankings highlight the most talented three-year-old Thoroughbreds eligible to enter for a spot in the $1-million race. Votes are cast by expert horseplayers and racing personalities from Woodbine and the Daily Racing Form: Jeff Bratt, Robert Geller, Ron Gierkink, Jason Portuondo, Monique Vág, Doug McPherson and Chad Rozema. The rankings are based on votes following a points system (five points for a first-place vote, four points for second-place vote, etc.) for top five selections, and honourable mentions.
With previous number one Weyburn not in the race, Keep Grinding has taken over the top spot in the final Queen’s Plate Power Rankings. Racing for owner Joshua Attard and trainer Tino Attard, Keep Grinding has been installed as the slight 4-1 morning-line favourite in Sunday’s field of 13.
Keep Grinding received three of the seven first-place votes.
Woodbine Oaks winner Munnyfor Ro is number two just ahead of New York invader Safe Conduct. The top-five is completed by Plate Trial winner Avoman, who received a pair of first-place votes, and Dance Some Mo.
The entire breakdown of the final Queen’s Plate Power Rankings is available below:
Queen’s Plate Power Rankings (Final – August 20, 2021)
Rank – Horse – Career Record – Earnings – Trainer – Points – First Place Votes – Previous Ranking
TORONTO, August 20, 2021 – A trio of graded stakes, the Highlander (G1), Dance Smartly (G2), Ontario Colleen (G3), complement the 162nd running of the $1 million Queen’s Plate, Sunday at Woodbine.
Seven fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, will vie for top spot in the $175,000 Dance Smartly Stakes, a 1 ¼-mile test over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Graham Motion will send out Blame Debbie, a four-year-old daughter of Blame, as the multiple graded stakes winning trainer looks to notch his first Dance Smartly crown.
Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Michael Cloonan and Timothy Thornton, the well-traveled bay has assembled a 4-1-3 mark from 13 career starts.
Having raced at Delaware, Keeneland, Aqueduct, Tampa, Belmont, Saratoga, Kentucky Downs, Del Mar and Pimlico, Blame Debbie’s racetrack passport will now include Woodbine.
Bred by Tim Thornton and Tony Holmes, Blame Debbie won her debut at Delaware Park on August 29, 2019, finishing second in her next start at Keeneland, prior to a third in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct to close out her rookie campaign.
Last year, she went 2-0-2 from eight starts, the back-to-back victories coming at Keeneland, including her first stakes win, the Grade 3 Rood and Riddle Dowager on October 18.
After a victory in the Searching Stakes this June at Pimlico to launch her 2021 campaign, Blame Debbie was fifth in her most recent start, Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes.
“She ran well first time back at Pimlico, then she was a little disappointing last time at Delaware,” offered Motion. “Maybe the first race took something out of her.”
Motion thinks the Kentucky-bred will fare well running over the Toronto oval grass.
“She’s training well, and I think she’ll like the turf course up there.”
The race is named after the Sam-Son Farm superstar who went undefeated in 1991 while taking the Canadian Triple Crown, and becoming the first horse bred in Canada to win a Breeders’ Cup race (G1 Distaff, 1991). She is a member of both the Canadian and American Racing Halls of Fame.
Sam-Son Farm has three wins – tops among all owners – in the race that was inaugurated in 1986 (Bessarabian won the first edition).
The race is also the first event in Woodbine’s Ladies of the Lawn Series, in support of ReThink Breast Cancer. Next up is the $250,000 Canadian Stakes (G2) on Saturday, September 18, culminating with the $600,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1) on Sunday, October 17. At the conclusion of the points-based series, the winning connections will receive a $50,000 bonus. The inaugural winner of the 2019 Ladies of the Lawn Series was Starship Jubilee, Canada’s reigning Horse of the Year.
FIELD FOR THE GRADE 2 $175,000 DANCE SMARTLY
POST – HORSE – JOCKEY – TRAINER
1 – Blame Debbie – Kazushi Kimura – Graham Motion
2 – Merveilleux – Rafael Hernandez – Kevin Attard
3 – Afleet Katherine – Justin Stein – Kevin Attard
4 – Al Naseem – David Moran – Edward Vaughan
5 – Etoile – Irad Ortiz Jr. – Chad Brown
6 – Mutamakina – Dylan Davis – Christophe Clement
7 – Court Return – Luis Contreras – Josie Carroll
Eight fillies duel for Grade 3 Ontario Colleen crown
TORONTO, August 20, 2021 – Trainer Mark Casse, a four-time winner of the Ontario Colleen Stakes, will be launching a three-pronged attack on Sunday’s renewal with Our Flash Drive, I Get It and Salty As Can Be heading postward in the one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies.
The Ontario Colleen, which offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000, attracted eight entrants.
Our Flash Drive, a Live Oak Plantation homebred, is the only graded stakes winner in the Ontario Colleen lineup, having annexed the Grade 3 Selene over 1 1/16 miles of Tapeta last time out. The runner-up there, Munnyfor Ro, came back to take the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser and is a leading contender for Sunday’s Queen’s Plate.
“She’s done everything right this year,” said Casse, who had also watched Our Flash Drive win her maiden in authoritative fashion here at seven furlongs in her first appearance this year, but will be racing the Florida-bred on grass for the first time.
“We’ve breezed her a couple of times on the turf; she gets over the turf really well. She’ll be extremely tough, I think.”
Our Flash Drive winning the Selene Stakes in July. (Michael Burns photo)
I Get It was purchased privately for owner Gary Barber prior to winning the listed Sanibel Island Stakes over one mile of firm turf at Gulfstream on March 27.
In her only subsequent outing, the Maryland-bred was well-beaten In Belmont’s Grade 3 Wonder Again over 1 1/8 miles of “good” going.
“I probably shouldn’t have ran her,” said Casse, recently inducted into the Hall of Fame at Saratoga to match his Canadian honours. “She wasn’t a happy horse at the time. We’ve just kind of given her a break; she’s doing much better now. I think she should run well.”
Salty As Can Be, owned by Gary Barber and Baccari Racing Stable, is a half-sister to Salty, who was a Grade 1 stakes winner for the same connections.
“She’s a beautiful filly,” said Casse, who has seen the Kentucky-bred sandwich two wins around a disappointing stakes try. “She had to have throat surgery after her poor performance at Churchill.”
Salty As Can Be, who had debuted victoriously at Churchill Downs, returned to win a six-furlong Tapeta sprint at Woodbine. The Ontario Colleen will be her first try on grass.
“She ran really well there,” said Casse. “She’s breezed well on the turf. She’s a bit of a guess… I think she’s good enough, but we’ll just see. This is not an easy race.”
Chad Brown, who captured the 2019 edition of the Ontario Colleen with Seek and Destroy, will be looking to duplicate that feat with Misspell, who was supplemented at a cost of $3,000 including the $1,500 entry fee.
Seasons, third in the Grade 1 Natalma over one mile of turf here last September, adds to the depth of a field which also includes stakes winner Sweet Souper Sweet, third last time out in the Selene, plus Speightstown Shirl and Perseverancia, both maiden winners on the turf at the current meeting.
Trainer Michael Doyle currently holds the Ontario Colleen record with five wins, the latest in 2001.
The most famous alumnus of the race is the Casse trainee Got Stormy, who captured the 2018 renewal and recently notched her second win in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Bernard Baruch, defeating males in that one-mile turf race.
FIELD FOR THE GRADE 3 $150,000 ONTARIO COLLEEN STAKES
POST – HORSE – JOCKEY – TRAINER
1 – Sweet Souper Sweet – Antonio Gallardo – Michael Trombetta
2 – Our Flash Drive – Patrick – Husbands – Mark Casse
3 – Salty as Can Be – Rafael Hernandez – Mark Casse
4 – Perseverancia – Luis Contreras – Darwin Banach
5 – I Get It – Kazushi Kimura – Mark Casse
6 – Seasons – Shaun Bridgmohan – James Toner
7 – Speightstown Shirl – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Roger Attfield
8 – Misspell – Irad Ortiz Jr. – Chad Brown
Caravel chases grand slam in Highlander
TORONTO, August 20, 2021 – Caravel, winner of three straight including Saratoga’s Grade 3 Caress at 5 ½-furlongs on the turf last time out, will be cruising into Woodbine on Queen’s Plate day seeking a grand slam in Sunday’s Grade 1 Highlander Stakes.
The Highlander, a six-furlong turf race, offers a purse of $350,000 and attracted a field of eight.
Caravel, a four-year-old filly, will be facing males for the first time and making her first start for trainer Graham Motion. Celebrity chef Bobby Flay purchased a majority interest in Caravel following her impressive score two starts back in Monmouth’s Goodwood Stakes at five furlongs on the turf.
Breeder/owner/trainer Elizabeth Merryman retains an interest in Caravel, who is Pennsylvania’s reigning Horse of the Year and has fashioned a record of 7-0-2, including five stakes scores, from nine starts. Merryman is based at Fair Hill in Maryland, as is Motion.
“I’ve tried not to change too much, since I’ve had her,” said Motion. “I kept her at Saratoga, we kind of kept her on the same schedule she would have at Fair Hill with Lizzie.”
The Highlander is the next marker for Caravel on the path which her connections hope will lead to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, which will be run over five furlongs at Del Mar on November 6.
“This is kind of the race we’d planned on, if she ran well at Saratoga,” said Motion. “The six furlongs is a really good distance for her.”
Irad Ortiz Jr., who piloted Caravel for the first time in the Caress, retains the mount.
Looking to hold the shipper at bay will be locally-based Silent Poet and City Boy, who were the 1-2 finishers in last year’s Grade 2 Nearctic Handicap over six furlongs of the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Silent Poet capturing last year’s Nearctic Stakes over City Boy. (Michael Burns photo)
Silent Poet, a homebred who is owned by Stronach Stable and trained by Nick Gonzalez, also has victories in another pair of seven-furlong Grade 2 turf stakes, the 2019 Play the King and the 2020 Connaught Cup, but has yet to find his best form in two starts this season.
City Boy, conditioned by Mike Keogh for The Estate of Gustav Schickedanz, had become a stakes winner in the 2019 running of the Nearctic. The City Boy gelding will be making his second appearance of this season after opening up with a second-place finish under allowance terms.
“He came out of his first start really well,” said Keogh. “He ran well enough, and I think he needed the race. He missed a bit of time going into it. He always has little foot issues.”
Trainer Mark Casse, seeking his first Highlander victory, will send out a capable threesome in Turned Aside, Chuck Willis and Old Chestnut.
Rounding out the field will be Admiralty Pier, who has kept top company throughout his eclectic career, and Honey Won’t, who was supplemented at a cost of $7,000, including the $3,500 entry fee.
The Highlander has been run over its current distance and surface since 2004 when Soaring Free, who went on to be Canada’s Horse of the Year, captured his first of two consecutive renewals. The race was not run last year on a COVID-19-impacted stakes schedule.
The Turf Endurance Series also gets out of the gates on August 22. The series is made up of three races, two of which are on the inner turf. The opening leg, at a distance of 1 3/8 miles, is slated for Sunday, followed by a 1 ½-mile trek September 12, and a 1 ¾-mile marathon on the main course October 3.
FIELD FOR THE GRADE 1 $350,000 HIGHLANDER STAKES
POST – HORSE – JOCKEY – TRAINER
1 – Old Chestnut – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse
2 – Admiralty Pier – Antonio Gallardo – Barbara Minshall
3 – Turned Aside – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Mark Casse
4 – Chuck Willis – Kazushi Kimura – Mark Casse
5 – Honey Won’t – Jeffrey Alderson – Angus Buntain
6 – City Boy – David Moran – Mike Keogh
7 – Caravel – Irad Ortiz Jr. – Graham Motion
8 – Silent Poet – Justin Stein – Nick Gonzalez
Toronto, August 20, 2021 – Woodbine Entertainment is excited to announce the return of the Ladies of the Lawn series.
Launched in 2019, Woodbine’s Ladies of the Lawn is a points-based bonus series that includes three premier turf races for fillies and mares. The owner of the horse who has accumulated the most points upon the conclusion of the three premier races will receive a $50,000 bonus, while the owner who horse who accumulated the second and third most points will receive a $15,000 and $10,000 bonus respectively.
The Ladies of the Lawn series begins on Sunday, August 22, with the Dance Smartly Stakes, followed by the Canadian Stakes on Saturday, September 18 and concluding with the E.P. Taylor Stakes on Sunday, October 17. Each race will be contested on the renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
As part of the Ladies of the Lawn series, Woodbine is supporting charity Rethink Breast Cancer. From August 22 to October 17, racing enthusiasts can bid on specially designed pillows created from new saddle towels featuring the Rethink Breast Cancer logo. Proceeds from the online auction will be donated to Rethink Breast Cancer to assist those living with breast cancer.
“At Woodbine, we appreciate the role charities such as Rethink Breast Cancer play in our communities” said Zenia Wadhwani, Director, Corporate Citizenship. “We are excited to launch a fun way for fans to support Rethink Breast Cancer while taking home a unique piece of racing memorabilia.”
The online auction supporting Rethink runs until October 17. (Michael Burns photo)
The auction is now live and will run until the end of the Ladies of the Lawn series on October 17.
To view and bid on the saddle towel pillows supporting Rethink, please click.
The inaugural Ladies of the Lawn series was won by the Kevin Attard trained 2019 Canadian Horse of the Year, Starship Jubilee. In 2020, the series was won by Elizabeth Way, trained by Hall of Fame trainer, Roger Attfield.