It’s been 15 years since a winner of the Plate Trial Stakes went on to capture the Queen’s Plate, but Jiggs Coz could be the one to buck that trend after he coasted to victory in the CAN$151,200 event for 3-year-olds Sunday at Woodbine.
Jim Dandy Stable’s homebred Jiggs Coz should line up as the favorite in the $1 million Queen's Plate on June 24. He could be the first Plate Trial winner to win Canada's most prestigious race since Alydeed in 1992.
Sunday at Woodbine, Jiggs Coz scored by 3 1/4 lengths over Marchfield while easing home under David Clark for trainer Sid Attard. Alezzandro was a game third in the 1 1/8-mile test for Canadian-bred sophomores. The final time was 1:50.77, just one tick off the all-weather track record. The field of eight Plate hopefuls all carried 126 pounds.
For his owner and breeder Mel Lawson of Hamilton, a Plate win would be the epitome of a lifetime of involvement in the racing game. In 1984, his Let’s Go Blue lost a contentious Plate to Key to the Moon. And while Lawson has since won a number of important stakes races, including the 2002 Labatt Woodbine Oaks with Ginger Gold, also trained by Attard, a Plate win would no doubt crown his breeder-owner career.
The Trial didn’t unfold as many thought it would in the early stages. Alezzandro went immediately to the front, with Jiggs Coz in close pursuit. Alezzandro, a winner of his only start just three weeks ago, a 6 1/2-furlong maiden contest, along with jockey Jono Jones, controlled the pace through crawling fractions of :23.92 for the quarter, :48.82 for the half and 1:12.95 for six furlongs.
But Jiggs Coz, a gray son of turf star Cozzene, and Clark were shadowing the pacesetter as they straightened for home. From there, the odds-on choice drew even and widened easily under slight urging as Alezzandro, on the rail, hung tough but was passed near the wire for second by a closing Marchfield and jockey Patrick Husbands. Jiggs Coz finished under a hand ride.
“We just kind of planned to be wherever he was comfortable,” recalled Clark, who has won two Plates, in 1981 with Fiddle Dancer Boy and in 1985 with La Lorgnette. “We thought there would be a little more pace in the race and it didn’t develop. And he was where he was very easily, he was kind of dragging me out of the tack the first part. But he settled. He was in great shape today. He got a little bit tired but that’s his first time as a three-year-old packing 126. It’s going to get to anybody.”
Jiggs Coz began his 3-year-old campaign in style on May 5, a thoroughly dominating winner of the seven furlong Queenston Stakes by the same margin he scored by Sunday.
Last year, he won two of three starts, breaking his maiden on the grass and finishing third to eventual 2-year-old champion Leonnatus Anteas in the Coronation Futurity before closing out his juvenile campaign with a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Display Stakes.
“He was a nice two-year-old,” said Attard, looking for his first Plate win. “He always showed he could run. You hope as a three-year-old he gets better and he did. I was really happy when I saw the slow pace and he’s right there.”
Attard said he has no concerns about the Plate distance of 10 furlongs. “I don’t think it will be a problem for him. The farther for him, the better.”
As the 4-5 choice, Jiggs Coz picked up a pot of $90,000 to push his career bankroll to $323,116. He returned $3.80, $2.40 and $2.30, combining with Marchfield ($3.20, $2.90) for a $12.60 exacta. Alezzandro ($4.90 to show) completed trifecta worth $80.70.
Cobrador finished fourth, followed by Include Us, Dancer's Bajan, It's a Danzig and Markdale.