EARLY LOOK AT THE JULY 2 QUEEN’S PLATE PROBABLE FIELD (12)
PROBABLE FIELD FOR THE 158TH RUNNING OF THE QUEEN’S PLATE
HORSE / JOCKEY / TRAINER / OWNER
Aurora Way / Julien Leparoux / Stu Simon / Chiefswood Stable
Channel Maker / Rafael Hernandez / Bill Mott / Joey Gee Thoroughbreds, Wachtel Stable & Gary Barber
Guy Caballero / Jose Ortiz / Catherine Day Phillips / Sean & Dorothy Fitzhenry
Holy Helena / Luis Contreras / James Jerkens / Stronach Stables
Inflexibility / Javier Castellano / Chad Brown / Klaravich Stables, Inc. & William H. Lawrence
King and His Court / Gary Boulanger / Mark Casse / Wachtel Stable & Gary Barber
Malibu Secret / Alan Garcia / Malcolm Pierce / Sam-Son Farm
Megagray / Jesse Campbell / Mike Keogh / Gustav Schickedanz
Spirit of Caledon / Jerome Lermyte / Pat Parente / Copper Water Thoroughbred Company Ltd., Centennial Farms (Niagara) Inc. & Pat Parente
State of Honor / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse / Conrad Farms
Tiz a Slam / Eurico Da Silva / Roger Attfield / Chiefswood Stable
Watch Me Strut / David Moran / Catherine Day Phillips / Kingfield Racing Stable, Ltd. & George Philip Ledson
PLATE CONTENDERS ON THE WORK TAB
Guy Caballero and Watch Me Strut reside in adjacent stalls in the Catherine Day Phillips barn, which will enable them to discuss strategy heading into the July 2 $1 million Queen’s Plate.
Their brainstorming could be all for naught, however.
“They have similar styles,” said Day Phillips, who trains Guy Caballero for Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry and Watch Me Strut for her Kingfield Racing Stable and George Ledson. “They’re relaxed early, and come with a late kick. It’s maybe a question of who kicks better.”
Guy Caballero and Watch Me Strut also have kept company in the mornings on several occasions, including Saturday when they breezed five furlongs on the main track along with stablemate Split My Pants.
Split My Pants, a maiden winner last time out, scooted out to about a five-length lead under assistant trainer Candice Dixon with Watch Me Strut tracking from second under jockey David Moran and Guy Caballero another couple of lengths back under exercise rider Roy Garcia.
The three finished up together with Guy Caballero clocked in :59.80 and Watch Me Strut and Split My Pants in 1:01.
Day Phillips was pleased with the exercise and Moran and Garcia also spoke well of their mounts.
“You couldn’t ask for a better breeze, coming into a race like this, and he galloped out strong,” said Moran, who was aboard Watch Me Strut for the first time and has the call for the Queen’s Plate.
“He was very good,” said Garcia. “He’s worked for me regularly. He’s in good order.”
Guy Caballero is coming off a 20-1 score as the longest shot of six in the 1 1/8 mile Plate Trial here June 11 while Watch Me Strut rallied from last in a field of nine at almost 13-1 one week earlier to annex his first allowance condition in his first try as far as 1 1/16 miles.
Rafael Hernandez rode Guy Caballero in the Plate Trial but is sticking with Marine stakes runner-up Channel Maker for the Queen’s Plate and Day Phillips has recruited an interesting replacement in New York-based Jose Ortiz.
It looks to be all systems go for Spirit of Caledon, who breezed five furlongs in :59.40 on the main track under jockey Jerome Lermyte here Saturday and is scheduled to be supplemented to the Queen’s Plate at a cost of $25,000.
“It was perfect, just what we wanted,” said trainer and part-owner Pat Parente, who said he caught Spirit of Caledon galloping out six furlongs in 1:12 and pulling up through seven furlongs in 1:25.60. "He’s coming into the race well.”
Lermyte and Parente would be participating in their first Queen’s Plates.
Spirit of Caledon, who finished third last time out behind Watch Me Strut, would have to be supplemented to the Queen’s Plate at a cost of $25,000.
The Ontario-bred gelding has been racing for Chad Joe’s Copper Water Thoroughbred Company Ltd. and Parente but Dominic DiLalla’s Centennial Farms (Niagara) Inc. purchased a 25 percent interest earlier this week. Joe retains 50 percent and Parente the remainder.
Spirit of Caledon…(Burns Photo)
MEGAGRAY FINALLY GETS HIS PLATE DAY
Megagray, a son of Hall of Fame Canadian champion Langfuhr, has long been pointed towards a date in the Queen’s Plate starting gate. He’ll get his chance at racing glory on July 2.
He won’t be the post-time favourite for this edition of the Gallop for the Guineas, but Megagray could be sitting on a career performance in the 1 ¼-mile classic next Sunday.
It doesn’t hurt his chances when you take note of his connections’ serious Plate cred: owner Gus Schickedanz and trainer Mike Keogh each have two Plate scores, while jockey Jesse Campbell has one.
“We’ve planned (having Megagray run in the Plate) for a long time,” said trainer Mike Keogh, who won the race in 1999 with Woodcarver and in 2003 with Triple Crown champ Wando, both for Schickedanz. “He hasn’t run many races, but he’s coming into the race in great shape.”
Megagray’s career bow came last August, a seventh-place finish in a seven-furlong turf tilt over the Toronto oval’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
But, not to worry…‘Gray’ skies were about to clear up. Next time out, the Ontario-bred notched a 2 ¼-length victory, at 16-1, over 1 1/16 miles on the Woodbine Tapeta. Bumped in early stretch, Megagray rallied from fourth to break his maiden at 16-1.
“He kind of made his own hole coming home,” recalled Keogh. “He was in tight, but found his way through and got it done. It was quite impressive to watch him do that.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news in the aftermath of the win.
“He chipped his ankle,” noted Keogh. “It’s something that we noticed the next day and it was taken care of very quickly after that.”
So, while it wasn’t the preferred path to get him to the Plate, Keogh is happy with how his three-year-old is coming into the biggest race of his career to date.
“I don’t think the 1 ¼-mile distance is an issue,” he said. “He’s doing well and hopefully, he comes up with a big effort.”
Megagray will have once again have Campbell – aboard for all four starts – in the irons. The Woodbine-based Ohio native partnered Midnight Aria to a Plate win in 2013.