By Candice Hare

A massive field of sixteen is expected to line up for the 159th running of the G1 Queen’s Plate. The $1,000,000 feature which was previously run on a Sunday, highlights an action-packed Saturday of racing at Woodbine and begins the OLG Canadian Triple Crown. As per usual, familiar names from the Kentucky Oaks and Derby trail join the local contenders in a race which appears to feature a quick early tempo.

 

TOP PICK

STRIKE ME DOWN (Tapit – Strike Softly, by Smart Strike)

Running Style: Stalker
Trainer: Graham Motion
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Owner: Sam-Son Farm

With several bigger names in the field, I expect we’ll get double digit odds about the improving Strike Me Down and if so, sign me up! The son of Tapit has never finished outside the top three in his four starts to date and after running greenly when second to Dixie Moon — whom he opposes today — to cap off 2017, he appears to have matured mentally this season. He was a gate to wire winner in his only local start over the synthetic and while he was second last out, they went very quick early so it was a very good sign that he was able to hang on for a piece all things considered. If he can mind his manners in the early portions of the race, the son of Tapit out of G2 Nassau winner Strike Softly should have no issues with this distance.

 

TOO HARD TO TOSS OUT

PAWNBROKER (Gio Ponti – Sweetdetermination, by Alphabet Soup)

Running Style: Stalker
Trainer: Mike Maker
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Owner: Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey

A maiden in the Queen’s Plate? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time, but this one is hard to toss just as much because of his trainer as Mike Maker’s barn has been red hot lately after having won multiple stakes races last weekend at Canterbury Park. Pawnbroker’s debut effort was good, but he figures to be better here over a route given his pedigree and with a bullet (fastest of the day) five furlong work under his belt last week. He’s far from the most likely winner, but he’s not easy to completely toss to the side either knowing he’ll likely be big odds.

 

ROSE’S VISION (Artie Schiller – Essential Rose, by Bernardini)

Running Style: Stalker/Mid-pack
Trainer: Stuart Simon
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Owner: Chiefswood Stable

Rose’s Vision only broke his maiden in February, but he’s improved leaps and bounds in every race since, which was highlighted by a game second place finish to Telekinesis in the local prep over 1 ⅛ miles. It remains to be seen if he really wants this distance and gate 16 does him no favors, but he’s another who figures to be lost among the sea of more “well-known” names in the wagering, so he’s worth using at 10-1 or higher.

 

TOSS!!

DIXIE MOON (Curlin – Dixie Chicken, by Rahy)

Running Style: Stalker
Trainer: Catherine Day Phillips
Jockey: Eurico Rosa Da Silva
Owner: Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry

She’s a fighter is Dixie Moon, but it’s hard to trust a horse who seems to have made a habit of winning by the narrowest of margins as she’s about to face the toughest field of her career. That’s not to mention her two most recent victories came in paceless races where she was forwardly placed and the chances of her getting that scenario here are slim to none.

 

TELEKINESIS (Ghostzapper – Intentional Cry, by Street Cry)

Running Style: Frontrunner
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Patrick Husbands
Owner: Stonestreet Stables LLC

It feels like we see this every year — the big name once upon a time Kentucky Derby trail runner shows up in the Queen’s Plate and year in and year out they’re beaten. Yes, his two wins to-date were both good, but he’s not going to get a soft lead today like he did last out and his pedigree for this distance seems sketchy at best.

 

WONDER GADOT (Medaglia d’Oro – Loving Vindication, by Vindication)

Running Style: Mid-pack
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: John Velazquez
Owner: Gary Barber

She takes money time and time again and in 2018, she’s struggled to win. Her second to Monomoy Girl in the Kentucky Oaks is easily the strongest form anyone in this field brings to the table, but how do you trust a horse who has been in a position to win multiple times this season and to put it simply has failed to deliver? I don’t doubt she’ll run well here, as is typical of her, but I’ll pass on the win front.

 

LONGSHOT PLAY

ALTERNATIVE PLAY (Tiznow — La Suena, by Storm Cat)

Running Style: Stalker
Trainer: Al Stall Jr
Jockey: Mitchell Murrill
Owner: Spendthrift Farm LLC

Many of our longshot plays on this card have focused on the “hot trainers” right now and that’s once again the case here with Alternative Route. The son of Tiznow has two victories from five starts including his only try over a synthetic surface. He ran greenly in the G3 Arlington Classic as well and yet still put together a decent effort. Trainer Al Stall’s barn, however, is firing on all cylinders at the moment so it’d be unwise to dismiss a lightly raced, improving type running under his name any time soon.

 

Additional Queen’s Plate Card Handicapping Guides

King Edward Stakes

Dance Smartly Stakes

Highlander Stakes

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

 

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