Fillies have held their own in the $1 million Queen’s Plate at Woodbine. Holy Helena easily annexed the 2017 edition as the favorite and a pair of accomplished entrants, Dixie Moon and Wonder Gadot, will try to make it four fillies in the last eight years on Saturday. They highlight a field of 16 in the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.
Originated in 1860 and the longest continuously run race in North America, the Queen’s Plate takes place at 1 ¼ miles on Tapeta and the June 9 Woodbine Oaks featured a possible preview as Dixie Moon and Wonder Gadot dueled through the stretch to a narrow decision, with Dixie Moon edging her favored foe by a head.
Conditioned by Catherine Day Phillips, Dixie Moon was a two-time stakes winner as a juvenile and second in the Natalma (G1). The versatile daughter of Curlin owns a 3-for-4 record on the Tapeta and retains the services of two-time Queen’s Plate winner and leading Woodbine rider Eurico Da Silva.
A romper in the Mazarine (G3) at Woodbine and Demoiselle (G2) at Aqueduct last year, Wonder Gadot was named Canada’s champion 2-year-old filly. By Medaglia d’Oro, the classy dark bay opened 2018 with four consecutive stakes placings before recording a commendable second in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), missing by a half-length to Monomoy Girl. She offered a solid effort last time after a poor start and John Velazquez, who missed the Woodbine Oaks for Belmont Stakes Day, retakes the mount. Wonder Gadot is one of three runners for Mark Casse.
Telekinesis provides a strong one-two punch for Casse, who earned his first Queen’s Plate victory in 2014. A head second to My Boy Jack in the Lexington (G3) two back, Telekinesis made all the pace and drew off to a 1 ¾-length decision when making his first synthetic start in the June 9 Plate Trial at Woodbine. The Ghostzapper colt won his debut at Fair Grounds in mid-February and is still lightly-raced with plenty of possible upside. Patrick Husbands will be up.
Casse is also responsible for Neepawa, a stakes-placed juvenile who did not go on after breaking his maiden at Gulfstream earlier this year. Third as the favorite versus Woodbine allowance rivals last time, the Scat Daddy colt will receive a rider switch to Florent Geroux.
Graham Motion will send out Strike Me Down and Say the Word for five-time Queen’s Plate winner Sam-Son Farm. Stakes-placed in his juvenile finale, Strike Me Down broke his maiden when opening 2018 at Woodbine in May and followed with a solid runner-up effort in the grassy Tale of Cat at Monmouth four weeks ago. Jose Ortiz takes over the reins on the gray Tapit colt. Stakes debuter Say the Word broke his maiden on Keeneland’s turf two back and exits a third to Woodbine allowance rivals on May 27.
Plate Trial runner-up Rose’s Vision will enter on the upswing for Simon Stuart and the Artie Schiller colt has attracted Javier Castellano to the saddle. Juvenile stakes winner Aheadbyacentury exits a pair of thirds in the Marine (G3) and Plate Trial for John Ross. A son of Midnight Lute, the two-turn specialist adds Luis Contreras.
Alternative Route is a stakes victor on synthetic, posting a minor upset in the Rushaway at Turfway two back, and the Tiznow colt experienced a rough start when fourth in the Arlington Classic (G3) last time. Mitchell Murrill rides for Albert Stall Jr. Cooler Mike returns to stakes competition following an allowance/optional claiming triumph on May 20 and the three-time Tapeta winner will make his third start off the layoff for co-owner and trainer Nicholas Nosowenko. Jesse Campbell, who was up on 2013 Queen’s Plate upsetter Midnight Aria, has the assignment.
Inge promises to add to the pace but must improve significantly upon a fifth in the Marine to challenge. Silent Poet will bring a two-race win streak in his stakes and two-turn bow. Owned by four-time winner Frank Stronach, he’s trained by Nicholas Gonzazlez. Real Dude, who is winless from a pair of outings for Sid Attard, will also carry the Stronach Stables silks.
Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker, who teamed to win the 2016 Queen’s Plate with Sir Dudley Digges, are responsible for a longshot trio this year. Boyhood Dream and Marriage Counselor enter with only maiden claiming wins to their credit and Pawnbroker is still winless, finishing fourth in a May 26 maiden special weight on Woodbine’s Tapeta.