July 3, 2015
It is only fitting that with Canada Day in the spotlight, I get to write a review of the most important horse race on Canadian soil and once the US Triple Crown is done with, focus turns north of the border to the Queens Plate Stakes, the traditional start to what always proves to be a most exciting time of the year. Run at the classic 1 ¼ mile distance, for what is now a standard $1,000.000 purse, it has been restricted to CAN-bred three-year-olds since 2008 but nonetheless, has proven to be a huge stepping stone for some of the best HRP has had to offer over the years, if you come from the barns of Australia Wide or Pan Farms especially.
It really was the Australia Wide show in the first editions of the Queens Plate with four straight wins to start, with eventually Grade I winner Promissory Note and five-time superstar Rancho Ruler amongst them. Angelos Stable derailed the train with a victory in 2010 from Stealth Fighter, who ended up taking down the Canadian Triple as part of his 17 career victories and $4,300.000 in earnings, while Pan Farms won back-to-back after that with Sarahs Zippy and the immortal Vouvray, with her incredible BC Juvenile Fillies-Wood Memorial-Queens Plate-WV Derby quartet. In recent years though, the quality of the winners has dropped off, with the off-the-board finishers proving much better, as evidenced by Nile Warrior’s fourth in 2013 and his now $4,650.000 in earnings, and last year when Forever Steel, Twisted Estate and Laffin To Mia all finished off the board when they should have been right there at the wire.
This year is really no exception to the recent rules, with a huge contingent of 13 signed on for the big dance and while you have a filly in the mix, the role of favourite comes down to whom you like from the US TC with Grade I KYD winner King Cobra battling Grade I BEL winner Deja Steel, as part of five from the powerful Mb Stables. Throw Grade I FL Derby winner Unsuited and recent Plate Trial winner Owain and you have a blockbuster field that could easily match one of the best in its history, in talent, pedigree and sheer earning potential. At 10-furlongs, it is really up to the horse who makes the best trip and over the WO main track, there is always room to those who are patient and know how to make their move at just the right time.
1-Bad Mouth (Three-year-old chestnut colt / Owner-Mb Stables)
A stakes winner in the Vandal last year but winless in Graded Stakes company since, Bad Mouth returned to winning form at ALB last time out in a N2X allowance but that effort against older rivals was at a much lighter weight and now, he needs to carry his speed around two-turns with seven more pounds. His speed ratings are not as good as his stablemates but his workouts are quite good and if he has learned to keep his speed in check, he might have enough left in the tank to pass rivals for a midpack finish.
Analysis-Needs to prove that he can close at this classic distance
2-Buzzing (Three-year-old black colt / Owner-Mb Stables)
Sire Red Rioja has already produced a KYD winner in Commanding and has two chances to produce a Queens Plate winner with Bad Mouth and Buzzing, and here, you have a maiden winner who was third in the Pennine Ridge at BEL on turf and will use that angle in hopes to getting the distance better than others. An affinity for early speed will have him into the game from the start but the key will be trying to set moderate splits or at least, keep close to them, if he has any chance to sustaining his bid down the WO stretch.
Analysis-Turf to dirt could work at a huge price
3-Greek Poet (Three-year-old grey gelding / Owner-Hawaiian Shirt Guy)
Greet Poet was claimed for $25.000 three starts back and claimed for $50.000 from his last start but the prospects of him earning even a chunk of that price back here are quite remote, especially with workouts that are only average compared to others in this field. He set the pace going a flat-mile at CD but failed to hold on in the stretch and now, has to deal with a much tougher field and an extra quarter-mile; factors that cannot be overlooked when choosing a potential win candidate.
Analysis-Unable to hold his speed going shorter last time
4-Excitable Boy (Three-year-old bay gelding / Owner-Downwind Stables)
A maiden claiming winner over a good track last August but winless in eight starts since then, Excitable Boy takes a shot at the Queens Plate nonetheless on Sunday but does not have the speed ratings or recent form to be counted among the contenders at any stage. He has failed to hit the board in four starts this season and comes in off a fourth against easier going a half-mile shorter; with so many factors against him, take him as one who will desperately need the drop in class to find his form again.
Analysis-No threat off his recent efforts
5-King Cobra (Three-year-old bay colt / Owner-Aer Stables)
King Cobra carried a huge winning streak into CD and came away with all the glory in the Grade I KYD but he was only eighth in the Grade I PRK with an even effort and now, needs to find his footing again if he hopes to win another top-class race against his rivals. He regressed in that effort at PIM despite an ideal post and ideal conditions and with a new jockey in the saddle, one has to hope that he can get into a better early position over a track that was good to him early in his career but saw him just a little short of where he needs to be.
Analysis-KYD winner did not look like himself at PIM
6-Pure Trouble (Three-year-old chestnut gelding / Owner-Mb Stables)
Pure Trouble was pure gold at MTH last time out over their very firm turf course but that 97-speed rating comes with a huge question mark and carrying nine pounds more, over the dirt, against a much tougher field, one has to look at how he will hold up and take whatever odds you get with trepidation. Sire Pure Steel seems to get all types of runners including Forever Steel, who missed in this race last year, and while it is nice to see a horse coming in off a huge win, there are too manyTh changes happening to make him a legitimate shot for the win.
Analysis-Another turf to dirt angle but this one has a lot of changes
7-Unsuited (Three-year-old black colt / Owner-Hawaiian Shirt Guy)
Brilliant in both the Southwest and FL Derby, Unsuited looked like the real deal going into the KYD but he found himself outside of the top four there, and as the favourite in the PRK, and now needs to regroup against rivals who beat him there, and for a new owner as well. A change is jockey might be a welcome addition for this $450.000 purchase and his off-the-pace style, coupled with some speed up front, should serve him well in setting up a closing kick that was effective in a maiden win over this course last May.
Analysis-Returns to WO a much improved horse
8-Cool Guy Twist (Three-year-old chestnut colt / Owner-Running Farms)
The re-addition of blinkers helped Cool Guy Twist finish second in the Plate Trial with a solid closing effort and the extra furlong will help him as well, although he might not be good enough to win just yet against the best of his class. Prepared for this race since being purchased in March, and with solid one-mile workouts under his belt, the fitness will certainly be there and while others in the field might have better form, this colt can certainly close past rivals late to grab a minor award at a decent price.
Analysis-Could close into the pace for a small piece
9-Clown Candy (Three-year-old bay gelding / Owner-Mb Stables)
Changes in profile made Clown Candy a longshot at GG last time out and while he came through with a placing, the move to WO is another big departure and he will continue to warrant only minor attention off speed ratings that are below the best. One of many in the field from Mb Stables, the strength-in-numbers angle is powerful to say the least and he does show brilliant workouts at SA but on paper, he looks overmatched and one who would also appreciate a drop in class to show his best.
Analysis-Not up to par compared to others
10-Owain (Three-year-old black colt / Owner-Sarah Stables)
Third in the Steady Growth against older runners, Owain moved back into three-year-old company and upset the Plate Trial at nearly 35-1 and will deflate his odds in the Queens Plate but certainly not without merit and recognition. He won that race in wire-to-wire fashion with solid speed and now, with room to run into the first turn, he will be allowed to set an even more modest pace and that will help his chances of saving something for that crucial final furlong.
Analysis-Frontrunner could wire everyone once again
11-Toronto Candy (Three-year-old bay filly / Owner-Mo Mentum Farm)
Lasix was added when Toronto Candy blitzed a small field at WO last time out but at her best, she is a notch below the best fillies in her division and now, has to take on colts and geldings with only a five-pound weight difference, and that makes her a longshot. She has been good in the mornings but will not find an easy lead here and the fear is that she will use up too much, too quickly, and not save anything for what should prove to be a very interesting final quarter-mile.
Analysis-Takes on males and looks to be outclassed
12-Deja Steel (Three-year-old black colt / Owner-Mb Stables)
A Grade II winner and star of the Coronation Futurity as a two-year-old, Deja Steel has done what superstar brother Forever Steel has been unable to do, and that is win a Grade I event with his score in the BEL from well off the pace. Now, with an outside post and a quick pace to chase, he gets a chance to redeem his family and score the big one and if workouts are any indication, he is ready to make his assent to the top of his class with a huge win.
Analysis-BEL winner will love returning to WO
13-Kelly Rycroft (Three-year-old bay colt / Owner-Nakamura Stables)
A good main track at RUI helped Kelly Rycroft secure his second career victory but a modest speed rating of 83 is about 15-points below what is needed to win this race and with the outside post, he will most assuredly be the longest shot on the board come Sunday. A brilliant workout at PRX will not be enough to persuade many to back him against Grade I winners and unless he can overcome an off-track, he will be running for a decent placing as opposed to a big share of the purse.
Analysis-Draws tough and that makes him a huge price
The US Triple Crown weighs heavily into the form for the Queens Plate on Sunday at WO and with the best recent form, and a score in the Grade I BEL, Deja Steel is the logical choice to double up and make his mark as the biggest races of the Summer come into focus. Owain is a solid second choice after his upset in the Plate Trial while both Unsuited and King Cobra will hope to overcome troubles from the PRK, where they finished off the board, but in the end, all three will be chasing a powerful runner from the far outside in what looks to be a true test of class for everyone involved.
Win-Deja Steel (2/1)
4th-King Cobra (6/1)
Triple T Racing 🙂
Categories: NG Stakes