In spite of a bad break and a wide trip, Check Your Soul took command at the top of the stretch for jockey Patrick Husbands and cruised to a 3 1/4-length victory in the $153,739 Plate Trial at Woodbine June 5 (VIDEO).
The 1 1/8-mile Polytrack test, a major prep for Canada's $1 million Queen's Plate June 26, was won in a time of 1:51.16, less than two seconds off the track record.
Charles Fipke's Ontario homebred Check Your Soul broke his maiden at Keeneland on the turf April 15 and has now won three races in a row for trainer Roger Attfield, an eight-time Queen's Plate victor. The imposing son of Irish stallion Perfect Soul out of the Unbridled mare Unchecked would seem superbly suited to the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Queen's Plate.
“Actually, I was kind of glad he missed the break,” said Attfield. “I wanted him to come from off it (the pace). It was nice to see him run that way.”
The last three Plate Trial winners -- Not Bourbon in 2008, Eye of the Leopard in 2009 and Big Red Mike in 2010 -- all went on to capture the Queen's Plate.
Check Your Soul was away last in the Plate Trial field of nine 3-year-olds after breaking in the air and chased the pace from well back early as 8-5 favorite Bear's Chill showed the way while pressed through quarter-mile fractions of :24.70, :49.27, and 1:13.83. Bear's Chill had a one-length advantage over Sandy Gully at that point, but Check Your Soul was progressing into fifth place while racing five wide on the final turn.
Bear's Chill quickened into the stretch but was swallowed up by the field at the top of the lane. Check Your Soul came away with the advantage on the outside, opening up by 1 1/2 lengths at mid-stretch. He came home under a hand ride from Husbands while comfortably in front.
“He’s still learning, I didn’t really worry about it (the slow start)," Husbands said. "You look at the past performances. He comes from way out of it. Every time I ride him, you can do anything with this horse. I hope he comes back good and keep our fingers crossed that we can get to the Plate.”
Bowman's Causeway, on the Triple Crown trail earlier this year for trainer Chad Brown before a last-place finish in the Florida Derby (gr. I), picked up the pieces for second with Eurico Da Silva aboard. He was 2 1/2 lengths clear of third-place finisher Strike Oil, ridden by Luis Contreras. Bear's Chill faded to last.
Check Your Soul had a similarly slow start to his last race, the 1 1/16-mile Wando Stakes at Woodbine May 1. But he came on well despite some greenness for a 2 1/2-length victory as the 3-5 choice with Husbands aboard him for the first time.
With the Plate Trial win, Check Your Soul's career mark improved to three victories in four starts. He has earned $194,919. The dark bay or brown colt began his career with an eighth-place finish in a one-mile maiden turf event at Gulfstream Park March 13.
Attfield and Fipke combined to win the 2008 Plate with Not Bourbon, while Husbands was aboard 2003 Triple Crown winner Wando.
Other Plate favorites include Queen'splatekitten, winner of the Marine Stakes, and the filly Inglorious, who captured the Woodbine Oaks a race after the Plate Trial.
Check Your Soul paid $8.70, $4, and $3 as the second choice. Bowman's Causeway returned $6.30 and $4.70 and rounded out a $48.80 exacta. Strike Oil, from the Mark Casse barn for owner John Oxley, was $5.80 to show.
In a strung out finish, Hippolytus finished 3 1/4 lengths farther back in fourth, followed by Sensational Slam, Imhotep, Sandy Gully, Speed Ring, and Bear's Chill.