Each week, Tim Lawson, a 22-year-old horse racing fanatic and a Marketing intern at Woodbine Entertainment Group, will provide racing fans with an updated look at the Top 10 contenders for the $1-million Queen’s Plate, slated for Sunday, July 5.
With an all-around love for sports, Tim’s passion has always been thoroughbred racing. Introduced to racing at a young age, many of Tim’s earliest and fondest memories are of days spent at Woodbine with his family. Since then, his love for the Sport of Kings has only grown. Though he can’t choose just one, some of his all-time favourite horses include Wise Dan, Shared Belief, Curlin, and Zenyatta.
It was certainly a dramatic weekend at Woodbine. Celebration and tragedy were prominent on Sunday’s card, which made it a day racing fans will not forget. But, it is time to focus on what generated such excitement on June 14th. Every race on Sunday was memorable. From major upsets to massive payouts, there was something for everyone. The Plate Trial and Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser set the tone for the nearing 156th running of the Queen’s Plate. Many of Canada’s top three-year-olds were on display, and they did not disappoint. With the conclusion of Sunday’s card comes the latest edition of Contenders. Check it out.
1. Conquest Curlinate: Curlin- Higher World (Peaks and Valleys)
From Last Week: Same
Overall, he put in a very solid effort in the Plate Trial and looked great. Coming up just short at the wire, June 14th marked the third consecutive place finish for this colt. With that being said, he has only lost by a combined 1 ¾ lengths over those starts. Running second in the Plate Trial and the manner in which he did it does not move this leading contender down the list. He is still sitting on a big win, and July 5th may be his opportunity to capitalize.
2. Shaman Ghost: Ghostzapper- Getback Time (Gilded Time)
From Last Week: Same
We did not get the pleasure of watching Shaman Ghost run in the Plate Trial, but this still is a horse to watch out for. Sitting out the weekend of June 14th, it looks like Brian Lynch is sending his three year old star straight to the Queen’s Plate. His last start was on May 16th, which was a half-length victory in the Marine Stakes (g. III). It is worth noting that four Plate Trial entries (including Danish Dynaformer) were all beaten by Shaman Ghost in the Marine. There is no doubt that this son of Ghostzapper will be a legitimate threat next month.
3. Danish Dynaformer: Dynaformer- Danish Wildcat (Danehill)
From Last Week: +1
As the third favourite at post-time, Danish Dynaformer put in an impressive bid down the stretch and went on to take the Plate Trial by ¾ lengths. His competition in this race gave him a tough enough task, but a repeat against many of the same horses next month could be even harder. Only three Plate Trial winners have gone on to take the Queen’s Plate since 2000, but by no means does that influence where he sits on this list. If Tim’s Contenders was to have existed last year, We Miss Artie would not have budged from the top of the realm (Tim was wrong). Overall, Danish Dynaformer is loaded with talent. Fighting off contenders one and two in the Queen’s Plate won’t be easy, but it can most definitely be done. If it is, Roger Attfield will be etched in the history books as the winningest Queen’s Plate trainer of all-time.
4. Ami’s Flatter: Flatter- Galloping Ami (Victory Gallop)
From Last Week: +4
Ami’s Flatter had been a real question mark since his last start in the Marine Stakes (g. III). Finishing seventh by five lengths was a bit of an uncharacteristic run for the colt, especially after such a promising winter down in sunny Florida. The second edition of this list was being pondered the morning of the Plate Trial, which sparked doubts over his chances of even starting in the Queen’s Plate. The combination of a disappointing run in his last start with zero works since then might have suggested health issues. Conveniently, those doubts vanished just hours before the Plate Trial when he posted an impressive 59:1 breeze over five furlongs. Perhaps rest was all he needed. Time can only tell, but it seems like Ami’s Flatter is back on track.
5. Academic: Henny Hughes- Awesome Lass (Awesome Again)
From Last Week: New
Ladies and gentlemen, a new track record! It is needless to say that Academic was a pleasant surprise in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser. Given a perfect ride by Justin Stein, the 66-1 longshot took the lead early and never looked back. Final running times don’t mean everything, but 1:48.86 over 1 1/8 miles is not to be ignored. She was simply dominant, running a full second faster than Danish Dynaformer in the race prior. Racing against the boys next month will be a challenge, but she has nonetheless proven herself as an early contender. Her name could not be any more fitting, as she clearly outsmarted most of us with that historic win.
6. Conquest Boogaloo: Scat Daddy- Jules Best (Jules)
From Last Week: New
Another horse from Conquest Stables has now surfaced on this week’s Contenders List. Finishing third in the Plate Trial, Conquest Boogaloo was just two lengths from causing a major upset. Since he is new to the List, let’s introduce him. His two career wins came in 2014 and were both at seven furlongs. They were a maiden allowance race on August 10th and the $140,000 Swynford Stakes on September 7th. Like many of his fellow contenders, he also ran in this year’s Marine Stakes (g. III), where he finished eighth by 6 ¼ lengths. As a result, it seemed like a competitive bid in the Plate Trial would be a tall order. That, however, was certainly not the case. Far off the pace around the turn, he made a noteworthy outside run down the stretch with a burst of speed. He looked fast and energized, which could be advantageous when it comes to 1 ¼ miles.
7. Portree: Niigon- Eclipse Bay (Hennessy)
From Last Week: +3
Portree’s run in the Plate Trial was nothing less than decent. Finishing fourth by 2 ½ lengths, he proved that he could compete at a higher level. Going into June 14th, it was uncertain how he would fare against tougher horses. Remember, he had never entered a stakes race before the Plate Trial and both of his wins came in races that were restricted to Ontario sired horses. In the lead at the ¾ mile mark, he hung in there right until the end. Overall, he was convincing enough to keep him in the mix for now.
8. Field of Courage: Marchfield- Miss Crissy (Bold n’ Flashy)
From Last Week: -3
The Plate Trial marked the end of a three race winning streak for Field of Courage. Though he was not expected to win, trailing Portree and Conquest Boogaloo at the wire was likely discouraging. Down the stretch, he came as close as a half-length from the lead, but was overmatched in the final furlong. Don’t count this horse out just yet, but be aware that any shot of winning on July 5th will ask for a run of a lifetime.
9. Kingsport: Milwaukee Brew- Green Jewel (Green Dancer)
From Last Week: -2
Kingsport is just the third Contender that we did not see run on June 14th. Because of that, there is no reason to count this horse out just yet. His 3 ¾ length win in the Kingarvie Stakes last December shows that he can manage two turns. Furthermore, his competition in the Kingarvie consisted of Plate Trial runners Phil’s Cocktail and Bear At Last (7th in Plate Trial). In order for him to stay in contention for the Queen’s Plate, Kingsport really needs to dominate in his final prep. That start will likely come within the next week, as he will need time to rest and gear up for July 5th.
10. R U Watchingbud: Kentucky Bear- Bonay (Wild Again)
From Last Week: -1
Unfortunately, we did not get to see R U Watchingbud run a full trip in the Plate Trial. Due to the tragic incident involving Danzig Moon, his race was cut short and ended at a pivotal moment. Thankfully, he walked away unharmed and is said to be fine. Before R U Watchingbud went down, it looked like things went according to plan. Most of his prior success has come as a closer, meaning he runs best when rallying from behind. Though running 10th, he was just 5 ½ lengths off the leader at the half mile mark. It is unknown where this horse would have finished at the wire, but his talent could have given him a shot. Entering the Queen’s Plate is up to his connections, but if he does, winning it would undoubtedly be a feel good story for the ages.