By Candice Hare

Popular Queen’s Plate winner Holy Helena headlines the Dance Smartly, as she looks to rebound from a subpar performance in the G2 New York. This will be no walkover, however, as she will meet a large field which includes several former European runners. From a pace perspective, this one looks fair, so I do not expect any one running style in particular to be favored.

 

TOP PICK

#1 DREAM DANCING (Tapit – To Dream About, by Monarchos)

Running Style: Closer
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Owner: John Oxley

Dream Dancing has faced some of the best horses of this division as of late. Proctor’s Ledge and Chad Brown’s new European import A Raving Beauty are far better than anything she faces in here and yet she wasn’t far off either of them. She’s yet to race over 1 ¼ miles, but she did win the G1 Del Mar Oaks over 1 ⅛ miles and she’s never looked as if the extra 1/8th of a mile will be an issue. It’s rare running in a G2 is a drop in class, but that appears to be the case for the daughter of Tapit and top jockey Florent Geroux taking the mount inspires confidence.

 

TOO HARD TO TOSS OUT

#6 STARSHIP JUBILEE (Indy Wind – Perfectly Wind, by Forest Wildcat)

Running Style: Stalker
Trainer: Kevin Attard
Jockey: Eurico Rosa Da Silva
Owner: Soli Mehta and Partner

Starship Jubilee may not be regularly running in graded stakes like some of the others she faces, but she appears to be a mare who has been prepared to perfection by trainer Kevin Attard. After winning on seasonal reappearance at Gulfstream Park she was a close up second in a starters stakes, which also took place at Gulfstream. After a 99 day break, Starship Jubilee was a strong fourth in the G2 Nassau after being up on the pace early, but the key is that she comes in here second run off that layoff — her trainer Kevin Attard is lethal with that angle and top local jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva staying aboard indicates to me this has been the plan all along.

 

#7 INFLEXIBILITY (Scat Daddy – Halo’s Verse, by Unbridled’s Song)

Running Style: Stalker
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Owner: Klaravich Stables, Inc. and William H. Lawrence

Chad Brown’s Inflexibility still appears progressive at only four years of age and making only the tenth start of her career. While I question whether or not she’s ready to win at this level yet, her second place finish behind A Raving Beauty last out shows she most definitely has talent. At likely short odds, she won’t be one I’ll use heavily, but it’s always difficult to dismiss a talented Chad Brown-trained youngster on the big days.

 

TOSS!!

#5 HOLY HELENA (Ghostzapper – Holy Grace, by Holy Bull)

Running Style: Stalker / Mid-pack
Trainer: James Jerkens
Jockey: Luis Contreras
Owner: Stronach Stables

Last year, she took the Queen’s Plate on this card and she’s been a winning machine ever since having taken her first three tries on turf with ease. She was thrown in against the big girls last out in the G2 New York, however, and her effort was bitterly disappointing. While she could’ve been forgiven for not winning, that performance was far below her effort and while the race shape was an odd one that day with a tear-away leader, she never looked the winner. She is more than capable of winning this, but I’m not going to have my money on her rebounding at what will likely be very short odds.

 

#3 SABA (FR) (Zamindar – Sagalina, by Linamix)

Running Style: Leader
Trainer: Roger Attfield
Jockey: Rafael Hernandez
Owner: Frederick J. Seitz, Danny Ward, and Gary L. Chervenell

Saba makes her US debut after six starts in France to mixed results. Of concern is that her maiden breaking victory came over soft ground and her only other win came over an all-weather surface (synthetic surfaces in Europe often lend themselves best to soft ground form), so unless rain arrives on the day, it’s likely she won’t get her ground. The distance will be no issue for her, but the ground worries and Attfield’s propensity to run his horses into fitness is enough to put me off for now.

 

#8 SANTA MONICA (GB) (Mastercraftsman – Zacchera, by Zamindar)

Running Style: Closer
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Owner: Mrs. John Magnier, Madaket Stables LLC, and Deron Pearson

Another recent European import, Santa Monica made her stateside presence felt in a big way when easily winning her US debut at Keeneland. While she was a good third in the G2 Sheepshead Bay behind Holy Helena, she was exposed as a horse who has a sharp, but short turn of foot. This means she will have to be produced for a run very late in the race and Woodbine’s long stretch doesn’t necessarily lend itself to that running style as the field will be strung out by the time she’s asked for run after everyone else quickens going around the far turn. She’ll undoubtedly be closing late, but I think she’ll come up just short.

 

LONGSHOT PLAY

#10 FLOWER FASHION (FR) (Flower Alley – Winter Fashion, by Kendor)

Running Style: Leader / Stalker
Trainer: Christophe Clement
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Owner: Derek James, Mary Slack, and Nicolas Clement

You don’t see too many French-bred daughters of Flower Alley, but that’s the case with Flower Fashion who is a whopping 20-1 on the morning line. Previously under the care of Nicholas Clement in France, her career there was solid without being spectacular. She ran a better than it looks fifth in her US debut after blowing the start (a common trait of new European imports) and last out ran better than ever when aggressively ridden by Joel Rosario en route to victory at Belmont. There’s no doubt she faces a tougher group here, but speed of any kind is a fantastic weapon to have over further distances such as this and with Rosario once again engaged, it’d be no surprise if similar frontrunning tactics were employed here.

 

Additional Queen’s Plate Card Handicapping Guides

Queen’s Plate

King Edward Stakes

Highlander Stakes

For more information on the Queen’s Plate, visit www.QueensPlate.com

 

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