TORONTO, March 10 – Queen’s Plate Winterbook favourite Tiz a Slam and Kentucky Derby hopeful State of Honor will compete on a loaded Saturday afternoon card at Tampa Bay Downs which is headlined by the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.
Chiefswood Stable homebred Tiz a Slam, the 3-1 Winterbook favourite, won three of four juvenile starts for Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield including a season-closing score in the grassy Cup and Saucer Stakes, at Woodbine. The Tiznow bay will make his seasonal debut in the Columbia Stakes (Race 7, 3:12PM) which is a one-mile turf tilt for three-year-olds. Irad Ortiz, Jr. has the call on Tiz a Slam.
State of Honor, trained by Mark Casse for owner-breeder Conrad Farms, will look to continue his good run of form as part of a pace presence in the Tampa Bay Derby (Race 11, 5:27PM). The bay son of To Honor and Serve won one of six juvenile starts at Woodbine which also included a solid runner-up effort in the Coronation Futurity.
However, since switching surfaces to dirt in Florida, State of Honor’s form has vastly improved with a second in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream and a good third last time out in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes, at Tampa Bay Downs. Julien Leparoux will ride.
Stallion Heiress, undefeated in two starts over the Fair Grounds turf, is listed as the 4-5 favourite in the LaCombe Memorial Stakes at the Louisiana track on Saturday (Race 4, 2:53PM). The dark bay daughter of Exchange Rate, out of local fave Mendocino Beano, is trained by Michael Stidham for Stallionaire Enterprises.
Avie’s Mesa and Yorkton will square off Saturday at Gulfstream Park (Race 8, 3:32PM) in a 7 ½-furlong turf allowance for three-year-olds.
Trained by Josie Carroll for owner-breeder Ivan Dalos, Avie’s Mesa graduated on debut at Woodbine on September 24 in a maiden turf allowance. The dark bay Sky Mesa colt went on to finish fourth in the Cup and Saucer. Trevor McCarthy has the call on Saturday.
Avie’s Mesa graduating at Woodbine…
Yorkton, a Chiefswood Stable homebred son of Speightstown trained by Stu Simon, graduated at second asking on the Woodbine main. He went on to finish ninth in the Cup and Saucer and has since made one start, finishing sixth, at Gulfstream Park. Nik Juarez will ride on Saturday.
A number of Queen’s Plate contenders put in good efforts last weekend at Gulfstream Park led by Sailing Home and Time to Travel.
Sailing Home, trained by Mark Casse, set the pace in the turf Palm Beach Stakes before weakening to finish fourth when defeated just two lengths. Fellow Queen’s Plate hopeful Channel Maker, trained by Dan Vella, finished eighth in the same event.
Garland Williamson’s Time to Travel, a full brother to popular graded stakes winner Hard Not to Like, made his career debut a good one when fourth at 69-1 in a seven furlong maiden allowance. The Rachel Halden trainee finished less than three lengths behind a favoured Chad Brown runner, Timeline.
A number of key contenders popped up on the work tab last week including:
Be Counted breezed five furlongs in 1:03 on March 10 over the all weather training surface at Fair Hill.
Fleetway breezed four furlongs in :50.67 on March 10 over the Gulfstream Park dirt.
Ellan Vannin breezed two furlongs in :26 flat on March 9 over the Woodbine dirt training track.
Malibu Secret breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 on March 6 over the Tampa Bay Downs dirt.
Megagray breezed four furlongs in :49.20 on March 4 over the Aiken dirt.
Woodbridge breezed four furlongs in :49 flat on March 4 over the Aiken dirt.
Horse / Trainer / Owner 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.