TORONTO, March 24 – The path to the Queen’s Plate heats up this weekend with a pair of contenders, including King and His Court and Sailing Home, in stakes action at Turfway Park in Kentucky.
Trained by Mark Casse for owners Wachtel Stable and Gary Barber, King and His Court won three of nine starts in a busy juvenile campaign inlcuding scores in the prestigious $250,000 Coronation Futurity and the Display Stakes. The dark bay son of Court Vision made his seasonal debut in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs but failed to handle the dirt surface finishing last of nine.
On Saturday, King and His Court, once again to be piloted by Gary Boulanger, returns to a more familiar synthetic footing at Turfway Park where he will leave from Post 11 in the a talented field of 12 travelling 1 1/8-miles in the Grade 3 $500,000 Spiral Stakes (Race 10, 5:55 PM ET). This key Kentucky Derby prep offers points of 50-20-10-5 to the top four finishers all competing for a spot in the starting gate in the Run For The Roses.
To win the Spiral, King and his Court will have to topple the graded stakes placed Kitten’s Cat who arrives at Turfway from a solid runner-up effort in the grassy Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Joe Sharp for owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, Kitten’s Cat has won three of seven lifetime starts including added-money victories in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Santa Anita and the Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Earlier on the same bumper Turfway Park card, Sailing Home has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favourite in the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes (Race 8, 4:33PM ET). Owned by Conrad Farms, Sailing Home is expected to set the pace in the 1 1/16-mile event under regular rider Julien Leparoux. The Casse trainee graduated in style at Woodbine on October 30 when a romping 9 3/4-length winner of a six furlong Tapeta sprint before completing a truncated juvenile campaign with a third in the Swynford Stakes.
Sailing Home launched his sophomore season with a third in the OBS Championships before landing fourth in the aforementioned Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes after battling with Kitten’s Cat.
Also in action on Saturday, this time at Oaklawn Park (Race 10, 5:37PM ET), is the Steve Asmussen trained Off Road. The dark bay son of Quality Road landed fourth in a pair of starts at Fair Grounds to start his career. Woodbine regular Luis Contreras, currently plying his trade at Oaklawn Park, has picked up the mount on Off Road in the 1 1/16-mile dirt route.
The well regarded Arcen, trained by Mike DePaulo for owner Robert Marzilli, makes just his second career start when he makes his seasonal debut at Gulfstream Park on Sunday. The Pioneerof the Nile bay finished sixth on debut as the favourite in the Victoria Stakes after an eventful to and from the gate.
Sam-Son Farm homebred Clutch Catch, a dark bay son of Tiznow trained by Malcolm Pierce, is entered on Sunday (Race 8, 3:55PM ET) at Tampa Bay Downs. Clutch Catch will be looking for his first career in the 1 1/16-mile turf tilt. Fellow Queen’s Plate hopeful Final Copy will look to draw into the event from the also eligible list for trainer Roger Attfield.
Woodbridge was the lone Queen’s Plate contender in action last weekend and the Mike Keogh trainee did not disappoint landing first in the City of Aiken Trophy under rider Kaitlan Montgomery. Although Woodbridge wasn’t the smoothest at the gate, he recovered nicely to dust three challengers covering 4 1/2-furlongs in :54.20. Woodbridge is listed at odds of 10-1 in the Queen’s Plate Winterbook.
A number of key contenders popped up on the work tab last week including:
Silent Jimmie breezed three furlongs in :36.20 on March 23 on Woodbine’s dirt training track. Rank 1/9.
Ellan Vannin breezed three furlongs in :37 flat on March 19 on Woodbine’s dirt training track. Rank 31/90
Enstone breezed four furlongs in :49.70 on March 19 on the Palm Meadows dirt. Rank 25/44
Western Ghost breezed four furlongs in :49 flat on March 19 on the Palm Meadows dirt. Rank 15/44
Final Copy breezed five furlongs in 1:00.20 on March 18 on the Payson Park turf. Rank 8/19
Escondera breezed five furlongs in 1:04 flat on March 18 on the Payson Park dirt. Rank 1/3
Escondera with Allyson Walker at Payson Park (Courtesy of Allyson Walker)
1. Tiz a Slam / Roger Attfield / Chiefswood Stable
2. King and His Court / Mark Casse / Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable
2. State of Honor / Mark Casse / Conrad Farms
4. Channel Maker / Dan Vella / Joey Gee Thoroughbreds and Wachtel Stable
5. Inflexibility / Chad Brown / Klaravich Stables, Inc. William H. Lawrence
The 158th running of The Queen’s Plate, the 1 1/4-mile classic which carries a $1 million purse, is set for Sunday, July 2. For more information on North America’s oldest continuously-run stakes event and first jewel in Canada’s Triple Crown of Racing, visit QueensPlate.com.