EARLY LOOK AT THE JUNE 30 QUEEN’S PLATE PROBABLE FIELD (16)
PROBABLE FIELD FOR THE 159TH RUNNING OF THE QUEEN’S PLATE
Horse / Trainer / Owner / Jockey
Aheadbyacentury / John Ross / Jack of Hearts Racing and J.R. Racing / Luis Contreras
Alternative Route / Al Stall, Jr. / Spendthrift Farm LLC & Town and Country Racing, LLC / Mitchell Murrill
Boyhood Dream / Michael Maker / Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey / Alan Garcia
Cooler Mike / Nick Nosowenko / Mike and Nick Nosowenko / Jesse Campbell
Dixie Moon / Catherine Day Phillips / Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry / Eurico Rosa da Silva
Inge / Norm McKnight / Bruno Schickedanz / TBD
Marriage Counselor / Michael Maker / Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey / Jalon Samuel
Neepawa / Mark Casse / Chiefswood Stable / Florent Geroux
Pawnbroker / Michael Maker / Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey / Joel Rosario
Real Dude / Sid Attard / Stronach Stables / David Moran
Rose’s Vision / Stu Simon / Chiefswood Stable / Javier Castellano
Say the Word / Graham Motion / Sam-Son Farm / Rafael Hernandez
Silent Poet / Nick Gonzalez / Stronach Stable / Gary Boulanger
Strike Me Down / Graham Motion / Sam-Son Farm / Jose Ortiz
Telekinesis / Mark Casse / Stonestreet Stables LLC / Patrick Husbands
Wonder Gadot / Mark Casse / Gary Barber / John Velazquez
PLATE PLANS IN MOTION FOR PAIR OF SAM-SON STARTERS
Trainer Graham Motion, who has won some of thoroughbred racing’s most high-profile events, including the 2011 Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom, will have two chances to reign victorious in the upcoming Queen’s Plate, a race he’s long dreamed of winning.
“It’s definitely a race that’s been on my radar, a race that I’d love to say I’ve won,” said Motion, who will send out Sam-Son Farm homebreds Say the Word and Strike Me Down in the 159th edition of the Gallop for the Guineas on June 30 at Woodbine. “Those historic races like the Queen’s Plate – those are the ones that you’d love to win. I’m very fortunate to have these horses for Sam-Son, two legitimate horses. It’s exciting.”
A gelded son of More Than Ready, Say the Word heads into the Plate off a third-place finish in an allowance race at the Toronto oval, contested at 1 1/16 miles over the main track.
Motion is pleased with how the dark bay is coming into his biggest test to date.
“I think he came back a better horse this year,” he offered of the horse with one win, a second and one third from seven starts. “He was a horse we liked early on as a two-year-old and then he was slightly disappointing in the afternoon. After we gave him a break over the winter and gelded him, I think it really improved him.
“I thought his last race was a very solid effort against older horses. And I don’t think the (Plate, 1 ¼ miles) distance is an issue. I’m very happy with how he’s doing.”
The same can also be said of Strike Me Down, a son of Tapit who has one win, two seconds and a third in four lifetime starts.
His latest effort was a runner-up performance in the Tale of the Cat Stakes at Monmouth on June 2.
“For raw talent, I think this horse is the most talented,” said Motion of the grey who finished second in last year’s Cup & Saucer Stakes at Woodbine, the same spot he broke his maiden this May. “He just needs to try and put it together in the afternoon. It’s kind of what you saw in his last race at Monmouth when he made the lead and looked like he was home free and just kind of got to loafing.”
Rafael Hernandez, Woodbine’s leading rider in 2018, will pilot Say the Word. Jose Ortiz gets the call on Strike Me Down.
QUEEN’S PLATE CONTENDERS ON THE WORK TAB
Telekinesis, the Plate Trial winner and probable Queen’s Plate favorite, breezed four furlongs in :49.20 here Friday morning under jockey Patrick Husbands.
Breaking off about three lengths behind sophomore stablemate Ride the Comet, Telekinesis was under a strong hold throughout, pulled up alongside his Mark Casse-trained stablemate shortly after turning for home, and edged away late. Head clocker Ernie Perri caught the colt galloping out five furlongs in 1:02.20.
Ride the Comet, a three-time winner including an open allowance race on the turf here last time out, was clocked in :49.80 under exercise rider Cassie Garcea. John Velazquez has the mount on Telekinesis for the Plate.
Wonder Gadot, coming off a second-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks for Casse, breezed four furlongs in :47 before galloping out five furlongs in :58.60 and pulling up through six furlongs in 1:13.20 while wearing blinkers for the first time.
Exercise rider Mike Mikhail was aboard the filly as she worked in company with barn mate Juenesse Doree, a 4-year-old filly who was a winner under allowance terms on the turf at Gulfstream last time out. Garcea, a former jockey and now exercise rider for the Casse barn, was aboard as Juenesse Doree finished in :47.40.
Silent Poet, who will be making his first start around two turns and stakes debut in the Queen’s Plate, earned the bullet with a :58 clocking for five furlongs. With jockey Gary Boulanger in the irons, Silent Poet worked with older stablemate Black Sea and rolled along in fractions of :23.1 and :34, pulling away from his Nick Gonzalez-trained stablemate before completing the drill with a :24 final quarter and galloping out solidly in 1:10.20.
“Boulanger came back, and he was beaming,” said Gonzalez. “He really liked the way he worked, and he outworked a pretty good older horse.”
Black Sea, a 5-year-old gelding who is eyeing the July 1 Dominion Day Stakes after finishing third when making his local bow in his prep for that race, was timed in :58.60 with jockey Steven Bahen doing the honours.
Cooler Mike also had his final major Plate tune-up, breezing six furlongs in an impressive 1:11.40 while finishing strongly and then galloping out well. Boulanger worked Cooler Mike for trainer Nick Nosowenko but Jesse Campbell, formerly based here but now riding at Arlington Park, has the call for the Plate.
“That was pretty big,” said Nosowenko, who caught Cooler Mike coming home his last three-eighths in :34. “I asked ‘Bou’ to take a hold, and then let him go on.”
STAKES GALORE AT THE QUEEN’S PLATE FESTIVAL
The three-day Queen’s Plate Festival offers a bounty of added-money races kicking off on Friday, June 29 with the $100,000 Lady Angela Stakes, a seven-furlong Tapeta sprint for three-year-old fillies.
The lucrative Saturday, June 30 card includes the $250,000 Highlander Stakes, a Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In event, for turf sprinters; the $175,000 Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile turf test for older fillies and mares; the $175,000 Grade 2 King Edward Stakes for turf milers; and the headlining $1-million Queen’s Plate.
On Sunday, July 1, Woodbine’s Canada Day card offers up the $125,000 Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile Tapeta route for older horses; and the $225,000 Bison City Stakes, second jewel of the filly Triple Tiara, over 1 1/16-miles of Tapeta.
Tickets for the Queen’s Plate Festival are on-sale now at www.ticketmaster.ca.