TORONTO, May 25 – Four of the seven starters in Sunday’s $125,000 Grade 3 Marine Stakes at Woodbine are nominated to the Queen’s Plate including Conquest Lemonraid, Megagray, Malibu Secret and Channel Maker.
The Canadian-bred quartet could have their hands full with the Florida-bred Souper Tapit who makes his Woodbine debut for trainer Mark Casse in the 1 1/16-mile Tapeta route, but a strong placing in the Marine (Race 8, 4:52PM ET) could catapult any one of the contenders into the role of a Queen’s Plate upsetter.
Certainly any one of the four could win the Marine with Conquest Lemonraid arriving at the graded stake with a career-best 83 Beyer Speed Figure earned in his seasonal debut when sprinting seven furlongs. The Mark Casse trainee should appreciate stretching out.
Megagray, trained by Mike Keogh, ran a good third in his seasonal debut behind likely Plate favourites King and His Court and Tiz a Slam in the Wando Stakes. That effort came off an eight-month layoff and Megagray could be that much tougher to pass on Sunday with jockey Jesse Campbell prepared to carry the grey colt home.
Malibu Secret, trained by Malcolm Pierce for Sam-Son Farm, doesn’t have much early speed and that may work in his favour should a pace duel develop. The dark bay son of Malibu Moon has made just two career starts but his last out win, from eighth to first, suggested two turns is something the colt with relish. Leading rider Eurico Rosa da Silva will ride.
Channel Maker has proven his talent on turf with a record of 1-1-2 from seven grass starts including a victory in the Vandal Stakes and a third in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes. On Sunday he makes his return to Woodbine, and his main track debut, for trainer Bill Mott. Will Channel Maker handle the surface switch? Rafael Hernandez has the call.
Click the link to read the preview for the Grade 3 Marine Stakes.
Saturday’s card at Woodbine is headlined by the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes which features a battle between 2015 Horse of the Year Catch a Glimpse and the current HOTY, Caren.
However, the undercard features the seven furlong Lady Angela Stakes (Race 6, 3:49 PM ET) in which seven of the eight starters are Canadian-bred and could make a case for a start in the Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, with a good effort. Top contenders include Conquest Vivi, Little Christy and Fresh Princess.
Key results from potential Plate contenders last week included another good performance from Time to Travel in the 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton Sakes. With John Velazquez up for Michael Matz, Time to Travel dueled through strong splits on the Pimlico dirt on the Preakness undercard and stayed on strong to finish second behind a rallying No Mo Dough.
Enstone set the pace in the Grade 3 Selene Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile route for sophomore fillies, but couldn’t hold off the challenge of Grizzel. The Mark Casse trainee remains a strong contender for the Woodbine Oaks but may not want the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Queen’s Plate.
Diamonds and Roses finished third in a 1 1/16-mile maiden allowance route on May 22 (Race 10), but the winner of that event, Expedition, a 15-1 shot trained by Casse, may have earned himself a shot at the Plate with a strong score.
A number of key contenders popped up on the work tab last week including:
Guy Caballero breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 on May 20 on the Woodbine Tapeta. Rank 13/65
Ellan Vannin breezed six furlongs in 1:14.20 on May 20 on the Woodbine dirt training track. Rank 1/1
State of Honor breezed five furlongs in 1:01 flat on May 21 on the Woodbine Tapeta. Rank 19/69
King and His Court breezed five furlongs in :59.80 on May 21 on the Woodbine Tapeta. Rank 1/69
Stallion Heiress breezed four furlongs in :48.80 on May 21 on the Fair Hill synthetic. Rank 2/8
Inflexibility breezed four furlongs in :50.98 on May 21 on the Saratoga dirt training track. Rank 19/22
Tiz a Slam breezed five furlongs in :59.40 on May 22 on the Woodbine Tapeta. Rank 1/33
Holy Helena breezed five furlongs in :51.07 on May 24 on the Belmont Park dirt training track Rank 31/40
King and His Court is thriving at Woodbine…
Updated Top 5 Queen’s Plate Contenders as selected by @TripleDeadHeat
Horse / Trainer / Owner
1. Tiz a Slam / Roger Attfield / Chiefswood Stable
2. State of Honor / Mark Casse / Conrad Farms
3. Channel Maker / Dan Vella / Joey Gee Thoroughbreds and Wachtel Stable
4. Inflexibility / Chad Brown / Klaravich Stables, Inc. William H. Lawrence
5. King and His Court / Mark Casse / Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable
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.