TORONTO, April 19, 2018 – Horse racing fans will get a chance to scope out a handful of Queen’s Plate hopefuls in Sunday’s stakes action at Woodbine, which launches its new season this weekend.
Seven Canadian Triple Crown nominees will face off in the $125,000 Queenston Stakes on Sunday, April 22. The seven-furlong sprint for Canadian-foaled three-year-olds features the season-debuting Aheadbyacentury and Silent Sting, who are among the top 10 winterbook favourites on the road to this summer’s $1 million Queen’s Plate, set for June 30.
The Queenston Stakes, scheduled as Sunday afternoon’s eighth race (approximate post time of 4:53 p.m. ET), will kick off Woodbine’s exclusive Facebook Live programming for 2018 with host Jason Portuondo. The network-style show will go live on Woodbine’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/WoodbineTB, at 4:30 p.m., and will include highlights, live race coverage, live interviews and much more. Fans can send in questions and join the conversation on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
Aheadbyacentury went two-for-four last year, capping off his two-year-old season with a November 5 stakes victory in the $225,000 Coronation Futurity over 1-1/8 miles. Bred by Hill ‘N’ Dale Farms, the three-year-old Midnight Lute-Sinful colt is trained by John Ross for his J.R. Racing Stable and Jack of Hearts Racing.
“We finished up the year winning the Coronation and we sent him down to Florida at Payson Park and he trained there,” said Ross. “We gave him a month or so off and he started training the first of January. I left him under the care of a trainer that I know well, John Hennig. I just popped down there a couple of times in the winter months and let him handle the horse while he was there.
“He was there all winter long and he had some nice works. Payson Park is a nice deep, soft track and you can get a great foundation down there. He had a real nice winter and he’s been back here since the first of April in my hands. He’s been training well. We’re looking for a good effort from him.”
Ross reported that Aheadbyacentury has matured into a big, long-legged horse, which will benefit him as the season progresses and he stretches out in distance.
“He grew a little taller, maybe not so much wider but taller,” said Ross. “He’s got a big, long stride on him and that’s what you need for a mile and a quarter. We really love him for two turns. We’re looking forward to getting this seven-eighths into him, which I think he’ll run fine, but when he goes two turns, that’s his forte.”
The Queenston is part of Ross’s ideal plan to set Aheadbyacentury up for the Queen’s Plate. His perfect scenario would include running in the Plate Trial Stakes over 1-1/8 miles on June 9 before the million-dollar test over 1-1/4 miles.
“My goal with this horse is to have him peaking on Queen’s Plate day,” said Ross. “I could have run him or done different things all winter long, but I just wanted the right foundation and to have a nice fresh horse. Those three races coming up, I think are a good plan.”
Rafael Hernandez, who worked out the winning trip in the Coronation Futurity, will be reunited with Aheadbyacentury for the Queenston.
Like Aheadbyacentury, Silent Sting also closed out a four-race freshman campaign winning for the second time, in the $125,000 Kingarvie Stakes over 1-1/16 miles on December 9. Sid Attard trains the Silent Name-Mona Mia colt, who was bred by Phoenix Rising Farms, for Stronach Stables.
Eskiminzin is another Queenston Stakes contender who will be making his first start since winning the Simcoe Stakes last August.
Last year’s Victoria Stakes winner Blueblood returns to Woodbine for trainer Mark Casse after kicking off his sophomore campaign with a fifth-place finish going one mile on the turf in the Columbia Stakes last month at Tampa Bay Downs.
The field also includes the season-debuting Sable Island and Wandofuhr, both winners at Woodbine last year, as well as the Simcoe Stakes-placed Ellas My Love, who hit the board in his first start of the season last month in a seven-furlong Gulfstream Park allowance.
Live Thoroughbred racing returns to Woodbine to start the 2018 meet on Saturday, with a 10-race program featuring the season debut of Pink Lloyd in the $100,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes in addition to the $100,000 Wando Stakes. First race post time on Saturday and Sunday is 1 p.m.
Woodbine will be offering a Queen’s Plate Festival ticket promotion over Opening Weekend, with 20 per cent off the price of all festival passes. Tickets can be purchased at the New Player Zone on the second-floor grandstand from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The complete field for the $125,000 Queenston Stakes is listed below in post position order.
$125,000 Queenston Stakes
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1. Ellas My Love – Alan Garcia – William Tharrenos
2. Aheadbyacentury – Rafael Hernandez – John Ross
3. Silent Sting – Luis Contreras – Sid Attard
4. Wandofuhr – David Moran – Michael Keogh
5. Eskiminzin – Jeffery Alderson – Carlos Grant
6. Sable Island – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Gordon Colbourne
7. Blueblood – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse
For more information, visit Woodbine.com.