Overlooked Edenwold, Canada's champion 2-year-old in 2005, proved his critics wrong by springing a 16-1 upset in the $1 million Queen's Plate Sunday at Woodbine.
The son of Southern Halo was under pressure from jockey Emile Ramsammy for more than a half-mile in the 10-furlong event for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, but he kept battling to the wire to post a three-quarters of a length win over pacesetter Sterwins. It was four lengths back to Malakoff, who nosed Ascot Bill for third.
Wanna Runner, the Bob Baffert-trained 8-5 favorite in the field of 13, faded out of contention while racing three wide on the far turn and finished 10th. The final time was 2:05 1/5.
Edenwold paid $34.40, $15.90, and $10.30. Sterwins, ridden by John Velazquez, returned $6.60 and $5.40. Malakoff, with Todd Kabel aboard, was $4.20 to show. The exacta paid $233.60.
Josie Carroll trains Edenwold, the first 2-year-old champion to win the Queen's Plate since 1977, for Jim and Alice Sapara.
Edenwold had failed in three previous tries in two-turn races, but was coming off an encouraging effort in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial three weeks ago when third by 1 1/2 lengths to Plate rivals Pipers Thunder and Ascot Bill. Though beaten in that race, he led, was passed in the stretch, and came on again.
"At the start of the year, there was some question... would he or wouldn't he (get the distance)," Carroll said. "After his last race, I had tremendous confidence in this horse. He rallied at a mile and an eighth, and we thought we have a shot."
He showed similar determination while getting a ground-saving trip Sunday. After breaking with the leaders, Edenwold took back a bit as the Todd Pletcher-trained Sterwins and John Velazquez sped to the lead and set a ferocious pace. With Malakoff, Wanna Runner, and Edenwold all in close attendance, Sterwins went :22 3/5 for the first quarter mile, :45 4/5 for the half, and 1:11 1/5. At that point, Ramsammy was hard-riding Edenwold, who bid along the inside to challenge. By the time they had completed the mile in 1:37 4/5, it was down to those two as Malakoff began to drop back. They staged a dramatic fight down the lane before Edenwold began to edge away in the final eighth under steady urging.
"At the three-eighths pole, I glanced over and my opposition wasn't much of a threat at the time," Ramsammy said. "They were all scrubbing quite a bit. I thought the Stronach horse (Malakoff) was going to come with a big kick. He was up early, so I thought when he was done, it was over. I guess about ten jumps later, I really felt comfortable."
"The fractions were so fast, I was getting concerned," Carroll said. "The horse looked comfortable all the way. When they turned for home and he picked it up, I said -- 'you know what' -- we are going all the way."
Bred in Ontario by Gail Wood and W. Diamant, Edenwold captured 2-year-old honors by winning four races in succession, including the Colin, Vandal, and Simcoe stakes. When he ran fourth as the 4-5 favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity in November, questions arose about his distance ability. The Plate was Edenwold's first win in three starts this year. Overall, the chestnut colt, who is out of the Mining mare Best of Friends, has a 5-3-1 record in 11 starts with earnings of $992,900.
Ascot Bill was a half-length in front of Shillelagh in fourth, followed by Pipers Thunder, Atlas Shrugs, Cifercat, Hot Deputy, Wanna Runner, Thinking Out Loud, Bridgecut, and Pyramid Park.
Jockey Victor Espinoza said Wanna Runner never kicked in.
"He bounced out of the gate nicely. I got a good ride behind the leaders, but it was one of those days. He was kind of empty by the first turn, by the five-eighths pole I was finished. He was not fighting today."