Godolphin's Unification is the 4-1 Winterbook favorite for the 147th renewal of the $1 million Queen's Plate for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds June 25 at Woodbine.
The 6-1 second choice for the 1 1/4-mile "Gallop for the Guineas," Canada's most famous horse race and North America's oldest continuously-run stakes event, is another U.S.-based competitor. Wanna Runner is trained and owned by two high-profile California names in the sport, Bob Baffert and Mike Pegram, respectively.
American-based runners dominated the Queen's Plate in 2005 when Wild Desert edged King of Jazz in Canada's classic race. While both horses were bred in Canada, therefore eligible for the Plate, they were raced by U.S. interests.
The 83rd edition of the Winterbook offers early odds on all 191 horses nominated to the 2006 Queen's Plate. Rounding out the top five in the Plate rankings is Edenwold, Canada's champion 2-year-old, at 8-1; double stakes winner Bad Hat is 10-1; and Pyramid Park, the Cup & Saucer Stakes hero, is 12-1.
Unification, a dark bay son of Dixie Union
, earned favoritism on the strength of winning the Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes (Can-II) at Woodbine last October and some forward training and racing this winter in Dubai. The Godolphin colour-bearer was trained to his two victories in three 2005 starts by Eion Harty.
Wanna Runner (6-1), a son of El Corredor
, recorded two wins in four starts in Southern California last year. But it was his excellent third-place finish to current Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) favorite Brother Derek and U.S. 2-year-old champion Stevie Wonderboy in the San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita in January that stamped him a contender. Baffert and Pegram combined to win the Kentucky Derby in 1998 with Real Quiet.
The locals are led by Edenwold, a Southern Halo colt who was strong through the summer last year, winning the Colin, Vandal, and the Simcoe Stakes at Woodbine en route to his Sovereign title.
Josie Carroll trains the chestnut for Jim and Alice Sapara. Most of the Carroll shed row, including Edenwold, spent the winter in California.
Trainer Mike DePaulo has two Plate aces up his sleeve with Bad Hat and Shillelagh Slew, who is the co-sixth choice in the Plate rankings at 15-1.