Pipers Thunder Booms in Plate Trial Upset

Lightly raced Pipers Thunder, owned and bred by Chiefswood Stable, threw his name into the contender hat for the upcoming Queen's Plate by scoring a one-length upset win in Sunday's Plate Trial at Woodbine.

The 3-year-old son of Thunder Gulch, making only his third career start, fended off a surging Cifercat turning for home, then repulsed a late charge from 25-1 hot Ascot Bill, hitting the wire in 1:51.65.

Edenwold, last year's Sovereign Award winner as Canada's top male juvenile, hung on well for third as the even-money choice, only a half-length further back.

Pipers Thunder, who entered the Plate Trial off a maiden win May 13 at Woodbine while on the lead throughout, made his career debut for trainer Eric Coatrieux in March at Gulfstream Park, finishing sixth in a one-mile event.

Owner Robert Krembil, master of Chiefswood Stable, is now sitting in an enviable position to win his second Queen's Plate in only three years. In 2004, his Niigon upset A Bit O'Gold to win the 'Gallop for the Guineas'.

"He ran hard and got the money," said winning jockey Ray Sabourin. "Eric and I discussed (race strategy) but as per usual, the doors opened and everything unfolded a whole lot different than we thought. They were kind of walking a little bit. He wanted to roll a little bit. I wasn't going to fight him. He knew what he was doing."

On his colt's lack of seasoning heading into the $1 million Queen's Plate June 25, Canada's most famous horse race, Sabourin added, "He'll be a fresh horse coming into it instead of an overused one."

"That's our objective, really, to win the classic distance races," said Krembil. "(Pipers Thunder) had some soft tissue issues (last year). So we just eased off on him and gave him time. It was touch and go whether he could get ready for this. It looks like he did. He has a little learning to do and he learned a lot today."

While some of the major players for the Plate did not contest today's Trial, the Plate Trial has spawned the eventual Plate winner on many occasions, the latest being Chiefswood's Niigon, who finished second in the 2004 renewal.

Pipers Thunder, dismissed as the 9-1 fifth choice, picked up a pot of $90,000 (of a $150,000 purse) for the victory and rewarded his backers with a $21, $10.50 and $5.40 payoff, combining with Ascot Bill ($17.10, $7) for a $331.20 exacta. Edenwold ($2.80) completed a trifecta worth $979.90.

(Chart, Equibase)