We Miss Artie Big Favorite in Queen's Plate

We Miss Artie Big Favorite in Queen's Plate
Photo: Michael Burns
We Miss Artie won the 2014 Woodbine Plate Trial Stakes.

Synthetic track standout We Miss Artie will break from post 6 as the 8-5 morning line choice in a field of 15 for the $1 million Queen's Plate, Canada's most famous horse race, July 6 at Woodbine.

The 155th edition of the Queen's Plate for Canadian-foaled 3-year-olds, the oldest continuously run stakes race in North America, is scheduled for a 5:38 p.m. post as the 11th of 13 races on the Sunday program. It is the featured event on a card that includes three earlier graded stakes.

All starters carry 126 pounds, except the lone filly Lexie Lou, who will shoulder 121 pounds for the 1 1/4-mile classic over Woodbine's Polytrack. 

At the Queen's Plate breakfast on the morning of July 3, the selection order for post positions was drawn first via the traditional pill-pull, followed by the choosing of post positions by the connections for each horse. The system has has been in place for the Plate since 1998.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey's We Miss Artie , trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Javier Castellano, won Woodbine's Plate Trial June 15 by three-quarters of a length over Majestic Sunset to improve his career mark to 3-for-3 on Polytrack. It was the initial start at Woodbine for the Ontario-bred son of Artie Schiller   as he successfully bounced back from a 10th-place effort in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I) in his prior race May 3.

Currently based at Saratoga Race Course, where he turned in a half-mile breeze June 30 in :49.96, We Miss Artie will try to become the 26th Plate Trial winner since 1944 to win the main event. The most recent was Big Red Mike in 2010.

"I think my horse ran really well (in the Trial)," said owner Ken Ramsey, after choosing post 6 with the second selection. "(Castellano) said he was saving himself for the Queen's Plate. He's doing exceptionally well."

We Miss Artie won the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (gr. III) at Turfway Park to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, and last year took the Dixiana Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland, both on Polytrack. He's the Queen's Plate field's leading money winner with $691,908 over a 10-race career that includes four wins and a pair of seconds.  

Pletcher won the 1998 Plate with Archers Bay.

Six-time Sovereign Award-winning trainer Mark Casse sends out a trio of hopefuls in John Oxley's Matador and Majestic Sunset, and Gary Barber's Lexie Lou. For all his success in Canada, Casse is yet to win the Queen's Plate.

Lexie Lou lands in post 14 as the 4-1 second choice to be ridden by Patrick Husbands, who was aboard Wando for his successful 2003 Canadian Triple Crown sweep. The Sligo Bay filly enters off a smashing performance in the Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, winning by 4 1/2 lengths in the Canadian-bred 3-year-old filly classic June 15. She ran the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:49.77, a full second faster than We Miss Artie's time in the Plate Trial a race earlier.

"The reason we took outside is we want to let the speed go," explained Casse, who, selecting 11th, chose post 14. "I can see her second tier. Patrick gets paid the big money, we'll let him figure it out from there."

Last year, Lexie Lou ran for owner-trainer John Ross, earning more than $300,000. But after her first start this year, he sold the filly to Gary Barber. 

"It was really Gary's idea," Casse said. "He looked at her and liked her. We bought her because we thought she should excel on the grass. We've been lucky. John did a great job with her. We were just lucky enough to take over and she ran a big race."

Lexie Lou, who has earned $609,438, will try to become the 35th filly to win the Plate since 1860, and the seventh since 1956. She also could become the sixth female to win both the Oaks and the Plate, joining Flaming Page (1962), La Lorgnette (1985), Dance Smartly (1991), Dancethruthedawn (2001), and Inglorious (2011).

Matador, a son of Malibu Moon  , won the Cup and Saucer on yielding turf last year at Woodbine and enters off a six-length romp in an allowance contest over the Polytrack May 28 for his first win in five tries in 2014. The 8-1 third choice will be ridden by Julien Leparoux, who was aboard the colt for his four-race campaign in the United States earlier this year, when his connections had tried to point him to a possible Kentucky Derby berth.

Majestic Sunset (15-1), to be ridden by Gary Boulanger, is still a maiden after nine outings. But the son of Artie Schiller was an encouraging runner-up to We Miss Artie in the Plate Trial and was second to another Plate rival, Asserting Bear, in last year's Coronation Futurity. The last horse to break his maiden in the Queen's Plate was Scatter the Gold in 2000.

Trainer Josie Carroll, a two-time Plate winner with Edenwold in 2006 and Inglorious in 2011, has Ami's Holiday set from the far outside post pegged at 10-1. The Ivan Dalos homebred son of Harlan's Holiday won the Grey Stakes (Can-III) in 2013. In his most recent start May 25 in the Marine Stakes, he was a troubled third (elevated to second via disqualification of the winner), just a neck shy of victory. Luis Contreras, who teamed with Carroll in 2011 with the filly Inglorious, has the return mount.

Trainer Reade Baker will send out a pair for Bear Stables, Asserting Bear and Man o' Bear. Asserting Bear, at 10-1, was the disqualified winner of the Marine but last year pulled an upset by taking the Coronation Futurity. Chantal Sutherland-Kruse has the call.

Emma-Jayne Wilson, the only female jockey to win the Queen's Plate (Mike Fox, 2007) will be aboard 30-1 shot Man o' Bear, fifth in the Plate Trial last time.

Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield will try for a record ninth Queen's Plate win when saddling 20-1 hope Tower of Texas for owners Thomas Van Meter II and Scott Dilworth. The son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense   was most recently third to We Miss Artie, four lengths behind in the Plate Trial and was fourth to Asserting Bear in the Marine, but just a length behind. He'll be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez.

The Queen's Plate is the first jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown. The second is the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes at 1 3/16 miles July 29 at Fort Erie, while the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, at 1 1/2 miles on the Woodbine grass Aug. 17, completes the series. There have been seven Triple Crown winners since the concept was inaugurated in 1959, the latest being Wando in 2003.

$1 million Queen's Plate (Race 11, 5:38 p.m.), Canadian-Foaled 3YOs, 1 1/4 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Cap in Hand (ON), S R Bahen, S C Attard, 50/1
2. Coltimus Prime (ON), J M Campbell, J J Nixon, 20/1
3. Athenian Guard (ON), O Moreno, M P De Paulo. 50/1
4. Asserting Bear (ON), C Sutherland Kruse, R Baker, 10/1
5. Man o' Bear (ON), E Wilson, R Baker, 30/1
6. We Miss Artie (ON), J Castellano, T A Pletcher, 8/5
7. Majestic Sunset (ON), G Boulanger, M E Casse, 15/1
8. Lions Bay (ON), D Moran, J Attard, 30/1
9. Heart to Heart (ON), E R Da Silva, B A Lynch, 30/1
10. Matador (ON), J R Leparoux, M E Casse, 8/1
11. One Destiny (ON), J Stein, A Fehr, 30/1
12. Tower of Texas (ON), J R Velazquez, R L Attfield, 20/1
13. Niigon Express (ON), G Olguin, P Attard, 30/1
14. Lexie Lou (ON), P Husbands, M E Casse, 4/1
15. Ami's Holiday (ON), L Contreras, J Carroll, 10/1
All assigned 126 pounds except filly Lexie Lou (121).
Blinkers Off: Athenian Guard
Blinkers On: Man o' Bear

 

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