Filly Dixie Strike, trained by champion conditioner Mark Casse and owned by John Oxley, was installed as the 4-1 favorite in the Queen's Plate Winterbook.
An Ontario bred daughter of Dixie Union, Dixie Strike follows in the footsteps of her half-sister, Inglorious, who captured the 2011 Queen's Plate. The Josie Carroll trainee was a 4-1 favorite in the Winterbook as well.
Inglorious also won the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks last year. She rallied impressively through the stretch of Canada's most important race for 3-year-olds to earn the winner's share of the $1 million Queen's Plate purse.
Out of the Sovereign Award-nominated broodmare Noble Strike, Inglorious became the first filly to win the Queen's Plate since Dancethruthedawn in 2001, and just the sixth filly to win the race since 1956.
Prior to Inglorious, the last filly to sport the favorite's role in the Queen's Plate Winterbook was La Prevoyante in 1973.
The 2012 edition of the race is set for June 24 at Woodbine.
Dixie Strike finished a strong second to Rose and Shine in the $250,000 Princess Elizabeth Stakes last October. She would upstage her rival in December, taking the $150,000 Ontario Lassie Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths with Rose and Shine a distant second.
Purchased for $45,000 at the 2010 Canadian-Bred Yearling Sale in Toronto, Dixie Strike won the $105,000 Florida Oaks Feb. 4 at Tampa Bay Downs in her 2012 debut. Patiently ridden by Jose Lezcano, Dixie Strike settled in fifth position in the early stages of the 1 1/16-mile turf tilt, then gunned down More Than Love with a four-wide run.
"We knew last fall, after the Princess Elizabeth, that she was special. Patrick (jockey Husbands) was always quite high on her as well," said Casse, in search of his first Plate score. "I remember him working her one day and I asked him if she was as good as some other horse and he said, 'They don't breathe the same air.'"
The Winterbook's second-choice is Menlo Castle (9-2), trained by Ralph Biamonte for owner Conor Healy. The dark bay son of Forest Danger-Romantic Tryst, was a runaway winner in last year's Simcoe Stakes by 7 3/4 lengths.
Fillies, who enjoyed a strong year in racing, internationally, in 2011, are the next two on the theoretical odds list. Hard Not to Like (6-1), a Sovereign finalist in the 2-year-old filly category, broke her maiden at first asking and beat the boys twice, including a 4 3/4-length romp in the Cup & Saucer Stakes. She later finished fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IIT) for trainer Gail Cox.
The other filly among the favorites is Northern Passion (8-1), also trained by Casse. She won the Natalma Stakes (Can-IIIT) last fall at Woodbine before a seventh-place run in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). She was most recently was a closing fourth in the Florida Oaks.
The 88th edition of the Winterbook, which was compiled by Bill Tallon and Ron Gierkink of Daily Racing Form, offers early odds on all 117 3-year-olds nominated to the 2012 Canadian Triple Crown. The list includes 98 colts, geldings and ridglings and 19 fillies,
For more information about the 2012 Queen's Plate, go to www.queensplate.com.
Top 10 in Queen's Plate Winterbook
Dixie Strike (f) 4-1
Menlo Castle 9-2
Hard Not to Like (f) 6-1
Northern Passion (f) 8-1
Aldous Snow 10-1
Run in Aruba 12-1
Golden Ridge 15-1
Perfect Tay 15-1