Sam-Son Farm's Dance With Ravens and West Point Thoroughbreds' Get Down top a select field of seven for Sunday's
$163,500 Plate Trial Stakes at Woodbine, as the countdown to the 146th Queen's Plate June 26 kicks into high gear. All starters carry 126 pounds in the 1 1/8-mile race on the main track. Dance With Ravens, an impeccably-bred bay son of A.P. Indy out of Sam-Son's champion mare Dance Smartly, will try to maintain his role as favorite for the "Gallop for the Guineas" with a Plate Trial win. The 3-1 Plate winterbook choice, with Todd Kabel aboard, enters the race off a neck victory over Trial rival Atanas on May 7 in a 1 1/16-mile allowance contest. Dance With Ravens surprisingly set the pace then gamely hung on down the stretch for the win. It was the second start of the season for the Sam-Son homebred who opened his 2005 campaign at Keeneland, finishing third in a 1 1/8-mile turf event April 23. Last year, he finished first in the Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes, second in the turf Summer Stakes and third in a maiden turf contest in his three outings, wracking up $223,820 in earnings. He was runner-up to Wholelottabourbon in Sovereign Award balloting for Canada's top 2-year-old colt. "We wheeled him back pretty quickly because we had to get him fit," said trainer Mark Frostad, explaining the rationale for just two weeks between his races this year. "He was a little behind on training. He's been training well and we'll see what happens on Sunday. Coming back in two weeks, he probably bounced a bit in the race. He wasn't nearly at his best. Hopefully he'll improve off that." The Nancy Triola-trained Get Down will be gunning for his fourth win in five career outings in the Plate Trial. The grey/roan son of Doneraile Court powered his way to an 8 1/2-length win on May 8, dusting off 2004 Coronation Futurity winner Ablo in the process. The only time the colt tasted defeat came in his seasonal bow this year in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, when he finished a well-beaten 10th to Kentucky Derby participant Andromeda's Hero.
Slade Callaghan, who has been aboard in all four of Get Down's races, once again retains the mount. Get Down breezed a mile last Saturday for his Trial tune-up, timed in 1:41 2/5 seconds. "He just did it the right way," said Triola. "He relaxed at the beginning and just finished up nice. If he could just sit off a couple of horses in third or fourth and make his run coming down the stretch like he always does, (I'd be happy). He has this quick burst. Slade can use it whenever he needs it. He knows him better than anybody." Another well-regarded Trial entrant is Knob Hill Stable's Atanas, who just missed upsetting Dance With Ravens on May 7 in his second start of the year. The homebred son of Megas Vukefalos broke his maiden in the slop April 23.
The lightly-raced Huntington Stud Farm's Out From Africa, trained by John Ross, is also an ultra-consistent performer and is only a neck away from being unbeaten in three starts. Gerry Olguin rides Out From Africa, who has never gone further than six and one-half furlongs. An interesting ship-in for the Plate Trial is Castletop Stable's U.S.-based Three in the Bag, a son of Silver Deputy who is trained by Stanley Hough. Although it took the $200,000 (U.S.) Keeneland yearling purchase five cracks to break his maiden in his most recent race, the Kinghaven Farms-bred finished an excellent second to recent Peter Pan (gr. II) runner-up Reverberate May 8 at Belmont Park in a 1 1/6-mile allowance contest. Three in the Bag will be piloted by Robert Landry, who won his first Queen's Plate last year aboard Niigon. $163,500-added Plate Trial Stakes (4:37 p.m. ET), 3-year-old Canadian breds, 1 1/8 miles
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Out From Africa (BC), Gerry Olguin
2. Get Down (MB), Slade Callaghan
3. Dance With Ravens (ON), Todd Kabel
4. March With Me (ON), Emile Ramsammy
5. Atanas (ON), Rui M. Pimentel
6. Three in the Bag (ON), Robert C. Landry
7. Stag Nation (ON), Constant Montpellier
Each carry 126 pounds.