A full field of 17 Canadian-foaled 3-year-olds, led by Check Your Soul, Queen'splatekitten, and filly Inglorious lead the way in the $1 million Queen’s Plate June 26 at Woodbine.
The first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown and the oldest continuously run stakes in North America, the Queen’s Plate is run at 1 1/4 miles on Polytrack. Post time is set for 5:36 p.m. EDT. It’s the largest field since 1999.
Charles Fipke’s homebred Check Your Soul will be trying to hand trainer Roger Attfield a record ninth Plate win. Attfield, currently tied with Harry Giddings Jr., last won the Plate in 2008 with another Fipke homebred, Not Bourbon.
To be ridden by Patrick Husbands, who won the 2003 Plate en route to a Triple Crown aboard Wando
, Check Your Soul did not race as a 2-year-old but has won three of his four starts this year, including a 3 1/4-length score in the June 5 Plate Trial. The son of Perfect Soul
also won the May 1 Wando Stakes impressively and seems primed for another big run as the 3-1 morning-line favorite.
He had his final preparations for the Queen’s Plate June 22 when breezing five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 at Woodbine. Not only does Attfield give Check Your Soul a good chance in the Queen’s Plate, but he believes he will be a force going forward.
“He’s still growing,” he said. “He’s starting to thicken out now. He was a big, tall gangly boy there last year, and I can see a change in him every month now. He’s getting stronger and widening out on me. He’s going to be a good 4-year-old as well.”
Check Your Soul drew post 13.
The appropriately-named Queen’splatekitten, purchased privately by Mill House from breeder Ken Ramsey this winter and conditioned by Todd Pletcher, is the second choice at 7-2. The son of Kitten's Joy
won the Marine Stakes May 21 by three lengths, his third win in six career outings as he remained perfect in two starts on Woodbine’s Polytrack. The only time he has been worse than second was in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland when finishing seventh.
Pletcher won the Plate in 1998 with Archers Bay, while jockey John Velazquez’s best Plate finish came aboard Sterwins in 2006 when second to Edenwold. Queen'splatekitten drew post 14.
“When we bought him, we had this race in mind,” Pletcher said. “It has always been our primary focus, so we feel like we’ve gotten to this point the way we had planned.”
Pletcher will also send out Zayat Stables’ Imhotep
, a son of Giant's Causeway
. Still a maiden after three starts including a sixth-place finish to Check Your Soul in the Plate Trial, Imhotep will be ridden for the first time by Emile Ramsammy, who will be seeking his third Plate triumph.
Donver Stable’s Inglorious (9-2), trained by Josie Carroll, is fresh from her victory in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks June 5, when she collared pacesetter Spooky Kitten in deep stretch for the three-quarter-length score.
Carroll will be seeking a second Plate win after becoming the first female to win with Edenwold. To be ridden by Woodbine’s leading rider, Luis Contreras, Inglorious, a four-time winner in six career starts, is the field’s leading money winner with $650,000 and is also perfect in four trips on Woodbine’s Polytrack.
The daughter of Hennessy will try to become the 34th filly to win the Queen’s/King’s Plate since 1860 and the first filly (fifth overall) since Dancethruthedawn in 2001 to capture both the Oaks and the Plate.
“I think we’re asking a lot,” Carroll said. “It’s a very contentious Queen’s Plate this year but how often do you get the opportunity with a ‘live’ horse?”
Carroll will also saddle another contender for Donver Stable, Seawatch
. A homebred son of Woodman
, he enters off a fifth-place finish in the Victoria Park Stakes June 12.
, trained by Chad Brown for owner Martin Schwartz, will make his second start at Woodbine after finishing second to Check Your Soul in the Plate Trial.
To be ridden by Eurico Rosa da Silva, who has won the last two editions of the Queen’s Plate with Eye of the Leopard in 2009 and Big Red Mike in 2010, the son of Giant’s Causeway was on the Triple Crown trail this year, finishing fourth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I) and eighth in the Florida Derby (gr. I) while trained by Patrick Biancone. Brown took over training duties prior to the Plate Trial.
“I thought the horse ran well,” said Brown of the 6-1 fourth choice. “I thought (Check Your Soul) was very impressive. It was the horse’s first start for me. I was encouraged. I think we have him back on track.
"The horse probably needed the race. He was coming off a little bit of a break. So I was encouraged with how he ran and optimistic about what he got out of the race.”
Trainer Mark Casse, still looking for his first Plate win, will send out a trio of hopefuls in Enduring Star
, and Strike Oil
. Casse is a three-time Sovereign Award winner as Canada’s outstanding trainer whose best Plate finish was fourth with filly Tasty Temptation in 2009.
Other contenders include Oh Canada
, who won the Woodstock Stakes on April 16 in his seasonal debut, and most recently finished third to Queen’splatekitten in the Marine; Pender Harbour
, the fourth-plae finisher in the Victoria Park; and Curgone
, a son of 2004 Plate winner Niigon and to be ridden by Garrett Gomez.
The second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown is the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes July 17 at Fort Erie, while the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes is Aug. 7 on Woodbine’s turf course.
The Queen's Plate is featured on this week's That Handicapping Show
. TVG will present live, on-site coverage of the Queen’s Plate, including a 30-minute preview show airing Saturday, June 25, at 8:30 p.m. ET. Simon Bray and Paul LoDuca, who will provide commentary and analysis of the Canadian classic, will host the preview show.
$1,000,000 Queen's Plate (Race 10, 5:38 p.m.), Canadian-bred 3YO, 1 1/4 Miles (Polytrack)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Imhotep (ON), E Ramsammy, 126, T A Pletcher
2. Curgone (ON), G K Gomez, 126, G de Gannes
3. Oh Canada (ON), E Wilson, 126, R P Tiller
4. One Big Gator (ON), J McAleney, 126, J A Ross
5. Pender Harbour (ON), C Sutherland, 126, M P De Paulo
6. Head Honcho (ON), J C Jones, 126, C Day Phillips
7. Strike Oil (ON), W Martinez, 126, M E Casse
8. Okiyama (ON), J M Campbell, 126, J Mattine
9. Inglorious (ON), L Contreras, 121, J Carroll
10. Enduring Star (ON), R Albarado, 126, M E Casse
11. Ojibway Signal (ON), J Stein, 126, D R Bell
12. Seawatch (ON), S Callaghan, 126, J Carroll
13. Check Your Soul (ON), P Husbands, 126, R L Attfield
14. Queen'splatekitten (ON), J R Velazquez, 126, T A Pletcher
15. Hippolytus (ON), T Pizarro, 126, M E Casse
16. Bowman's Causeway (ON), E R Da Silva, 126, C C Brown
17. Maple Leaf Kitten (ON), O Moreno, 126, J Woodard