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Pedigree Matters: Sid Fernando assesses the Queen’s Plate

June 28, 2018

By Sid Fernando for

TORONTO, June 28, 2018 – Three of the last seven Queen’s Plate winners were fillies, and two in the field this year, Dixie Moon and Wonder Gadot, can join Holy Helena (2017), Lexie Lou (2014), and Inglorious (2011).

The pick here, however, is Sam-Son Farm’s homebred More Than Ready gelding Say the Word, who happens to trace in tail-female descent to Queen’s Plate winners Dance Smartly (1991) and her daughter Dancethruthedawn (2001). This is a family rich in classic success that Sam-Son has now cultivated for six generations.

Queen’s Plate contender Say the Word (Michael Burns Photo)

Sam-Son bred and raced Dance Smartly, Say the Word’s third dam. She won the Canadian Triple Crown, the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and Sovereign and Eclipse Awards in 1991 on her way to the Halls of Fame in both Canada and the United States. A daughter of Danzig, Dance Smartly was produced from the Sam-Son homebred Classy ‘n Smart, a stakes-winning Smarten mare.

Classy ‘n Smart’s dam was the blue hen No Class, a daughter of Nodouble who produced six stakes winners for Sam-Son. They included Canadian champion 2-year-old Grey Classic (Grey Dawn ll); Canadian champion 2-year-old, Prince of Wales winner, and Queen’s Plate runner-up Regal Classic (Vice Regent); Canadian champion 2-year-old and multiple Eclipse Award winner Sky Classic (Nijinsky ll); Classic Reign (Vice Regent), a filly stakes winner in the US and Canada who ran second in the Breeders’ Stakes; and US Grade 1 winner Always a Classic (Deputy Minister).

This is also the family of US Grade 1 winner Smart Strike, a Mr. Prospector half-brother to Dance Smartly who became one of the top stallions in North America at Lane’s End and is the sire of Curlin, a prolific classic stallion and the sire of Dixie Moon.

Like Smart Strike, Dance Smartly was a success at stud. Altogether, she foaled three stakes winners, including the aforementioned Queen’s Plate winner Dancethruthedawn and Queen’s Plate winner Scatter the Gold (2000). Her Thunder Gulch daughter Dancethruthestorm, however, was unraced and is the second dam of Say the Word. This branch of the family hasn’t been as productive lately, but it’s still fairly young. Say the Word is the first foal of Dancethruthestorm’s unraced Giant’s Causeway daughter Danceforthecause. The latter, a 7-year-old mare, has a 2-year-old filly by Candy Ride, lost her ’17 foal, and was bred to Street Sense for a foal of this year.

Say the Word obviously has one of the great Canadian classic families behind him and is bred for the 10 furlongs and for the Queen’s Plate, given family success in this classic. His sire More Than Ready is better known for his turf milers, but the combination of the sire with this family is a great blend of speed and stamina. It’s a pedigree that’s also suited to turf and Tapeta.

Say the Word is only a winner of one race from seven starts, but he appears to be coming around at the right time for trainer Graham Motion. He won his first race impressively at Keeneland two starts back in a maiden special on the turf at a mile and a sixteenth, and last out he was third to older horses over the same trip at Woodbine. That race should have him well seasoned for the Queen’s Plate, and with his pedigree, he offers excellent value for the long odds he figures to be on Saturday.

The Plate Trial winner Telekinesis will be favored and is the horse to beat. He’s by Ghostzapper – already the sire of Queen’s Plate winners Holy Helena and Shaman Ghost (2015) – from a Street Cry mare and is also bred well enough for the distance of the race, although his family is perhaps better suited for nine furlongs than it is for 10. But with two wins and two placings from four starts, he’s also an improving and talented colt by the right sire for the race. Ghostzapper is the broodmare sire of US Triple Crown winner Justify and is currently enjoying a hot streak on both sides of pedigrees. Telekinesis was bred by Bill Graham and is owned by Stonestreet, which paid $470,000 for the colt as a weanling at Keeneland.

Telekinesis on the way to victory in the Plate Trial Stakes (Michael Burns Photo)

The two fillies round out the selections, and either has a chance to win on ability and pedigree.

Dixie Moon won the Woodbine Oaks by a head from Wonder Gadot, was good enough to beat colts last year in the Cup and Saucer, and figures to like the trip as a daughter of Curlin, one of the most prolific young sires of classic horses in North America. She’s out of the Rahy mare Dixie Chicken and is a homebred for Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry. Last year the owners won the Plate Trial with Dixie Moon’s Quality Road half-brother Guy Caballero, but he didn’t stay the trip in the Queen’s Plate and finished 10th after contesting the pace early. Dixie Moon, too, figures to contest the early going, but she’s much more accomplished than her half-brother was at this stage with four wins from eight starts.

Wonder Gadot is by top sire Medaglia d’Oro out of Loving Vindication, by Vindication, and was bred by Anderson Farms and is owned by Gary Barber. She’s the most accomplished runner of either sex in the field. A narrow loser last out with trouble in the Woodbine Oaks, she was a half-length second behind Monomoy Girl in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks before that. A $325,000 OBS April 2-year-old with three wins and seven placings in 11 starts, Wonder Gadot – a Grade 2 winner – has been second or third in her last six starts and is knocking on the door of a big win. She gives indications with her running style that 10 furlongs may be within her scope, although her full brother, stakes winner Solemn Tribute, was probably best on turf at a mile to a mile and a sixteenth, so there are some question marks within her pedigree that aren’t as easily answered as Say the Word’s.

The Picks:

  1. Say the Word
  2. Telekinesis
  3. Dixie Moon
  4. Wonder Gadot
 Sid Fernando is an internationally known pedigree writer whose work has appeared in Daily Racing Form, Racing Post, Pacemaker, Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, North American Trainer, and various other publications. He also is president of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, Inc., originator of the Werk Nick Rating and eNicks. He blogs at Sid Fernando + Observations and is on Twitter at @sidfernando.​
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