Filly Gold Strike Seeks Queen's Plate Riches

(from Woodbine report)
Dance With Ravens and Gold Strike head a field of 10 Canadian-bred 3-year-olds in Sunday's $1 million Queen's Plate at Woodbine.

All starters carry 126 pounds for the 1 1/4-mile classic except the filly Gold Strike, who gets in with 121 pounds.

Sam-Son Farm's Dance With Ravens, an impeccably-bred son of A.P. Indy-Dance Smartly, has been established as the 5-2 morning line favorite and will break from post position nine. He tries to give his owner a fifth Plate win. Trained by Mark Frostad and ridden by Todd Kabel, Dance With Ravens, a half-brother to Plate winners Scatter The Gold and Dancethruthedawn, was mostly recently a disqualified winner of the Plate Trial Stakes June 5.

Last year the bay colt broke his maiden in the Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes. Overall, he's won two of six career outings for earnings of $270,110.

Sam-Son's Plate winners are Regal Intention (1988), Dance Smartly (1991), Scatter The Gold (2000) and Dancethruthedawn (2001). Frostad, in addition to Scatter The Gold and Dancethruthedawn, also trained 1996 Plate winner Victor Cooley. Kabel is seeking a third Plate win, after scoring with Regal Discovery (1995) and Scatter The Gold.

"He's coming up to the race in great shape," said Frostad. "If it was a beauty contest, I'd be a lot more confident. He'll certainly get the mile and a quarter. It won't be a problem for him at all. He's very talented."

Sam-Son's Hall of Famer Dance Smartly is the only filly to win the Canadian Triple Crown (1991) and could become the only Plate-winning broodmare to foal three Plate winners.

Harlequin Ranches' Gold Strike, winner of the Labatt Woodbine Oaks June 12, is the 3-1 second choice from post seven as she attempts to become only the fifth filly to win both the Oaks and the Plate. She'd also become the 34th filly to win the Plate since 1860.

Trained by Reade Baker and ridden by Jim McAleney, Gold Strike is the field's leading money-winner with $542,242, most ($300,000) of which was banked in the Oaks, which she won by a comfortable 3 1/2 lengths. She's won four of six career starts, including the Selene Stakes (Can-III) on May 22.

"I'm not concerned about the distance," Baker said. "I'm concerned about the time between races. When she came home (winning the Labatt Woodbine Oaks on June 12), it was awful hot that day, but she's galloped great ever since. We're very hopeful."

Castletop Stable's Three in the Bag, the 4-1 third choice, who was awarded victory in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial with the disqualification of Dance With Ravens. Robert Landry will ride him from post eight for trainer Stanley Hough.

Landry looks to become the first jockey since Craig Perret in 1992-93 to win back-to-back Plates, after celebrating his first victory in 14 attempts last year with Niigon.

Three in the Bag, a $200,000 U.S. yearling purchase at Keeneland in 2003, has won two of seven lifetime outings and most recently battled Dance With Ravens from the sixteenth pole to the wire in the Trial, losing by a neck. The bay colt was bred in Ontario by Kinghaven Farms and is a son of Silver Deputy, who has sired, among others, 1998 Plate winner Archers Bay and two-time Sovereign Award winner Deputy Jane West.

Wild Desert (Post 5, 6-1) will be ridden by Patrick Valenzuela for trainer Robert Frankel. The bay son of Wild Rush was bred by Windways Farm in Ontario, who bred and raced 1996 Plate winner Victor Cooley. Majority owner Dan Borislow, who counts former NHL player Keith Jones and New York Yankees manager Joe Torre among his partners, purchased Wild Desert in February.

Wild Desert, who at one time was on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail and was the 4-1 second choice in the Plate Winterbook, hasn't run since mid-April, when he finished eighth to Preakness (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Afleet Alex in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II). His best race of the year came in the Lanes End (gr. II) at Turfway Park, March 26, when he closed strongly to finish second to Flower Alley.

Another intriguing shipper is Buckram Oak Farm's King of Jazz (Post 4, 6-1), trained by Carl Nafzger and ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who led all riders in North America last year with 455 wins. The Stonyfield Farm, Manitoba-bred son of K One King , has won two in a row, at Keeneland and Churchill Downs, respectively and has never been worse than third in five career starts.

West Point Thoroughbreds' Get Down (Post 10, 10-1) will be ridden by Richard Migliore for trainer Nancy Triola. Sent postward the 7-5 favorite in the Plate Trial, Get Down finished third, 2 1/2 lengths behind Dance With Ravens, before being elevated to second after the DQ.

Triola will be looking to become the first woman to train a Plate winner. Manitoba-bred Get Down, a son of Doneraile Court, has won three of five career starts.

The winner of the Queen's Plate, the first leg in the Canadian Triple Crown, will earn $600,000. The second leg is the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes July 17 at Fort Erie, over 1 3/116 miles. The $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, at 12 furlongs on the grass Aug. 7 at Woodbine, is the third and final leg.

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 (5:07 ET), 3-year-old Canadian breds, 1 1/4 miles
PP/HORSE/ Trainer/Jockey
1/Granique/Alec Fehr/Corey Fraser
2/Molinaro Beau/Phil England/David Clark
3/Runnaway Mon/Mark Casse/Emile Ramsammy
4/King of Jazz/Carl Nafzger/Rafael Bejarano
5/Wild Desert/Robert Frankel/Pat Valenzuela
6/Ablo/Roger Attfield/Gerry Olguin
7/Gold Strike/Reade Baker/Jim McAleney
8/Three in the Bag/Stanley Hough/Robert Landry
9/Dance with Ravens/Mark Frostad/Todd Kabel
10/Get Down/Nancy Triola/Richard Migliore