First-time blinkers worked wonders for Wonder Gadot in the June 30 Queen’s Plate, the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, and the star filly appears poised for a classic double in Tuesday’s C$400,000 Prince of Wales at Fort Erie.
Last year’s Sovereign Award winner as Canada’s champion juvenile filly, Wonder Gadot had been settling for minor awards all spring, most famously missing by a half-length to American division leader Monomoy Girl in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). That’s the closest anyone’s come to Monomoy Girl in 2018, a positively golden formline in light of the Grade 1 sequence she just extended to four in Sunday’s Coaching Club American Oaks (G1).
After Wonder Gadot recorded another near-miss in the June 9 Woodbine Oaks, trainer Mark Casse reached for the blinkers in the Queen’s Plate, and the response was spectacular. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro powered 4 3/4 lengths clear of Aheadbyacentury, who was in turn 2 3/4 lengths up on Cooler Mike.
The venue shift from Woodbine’s Polytrack to Fort Erie’s dirt suits Wonder Gadot just fine, while the surface is an unknown for most of her Prince of Wales rivals. Towering over the field in BRIS Prime Power (150.9 compared to the 137.6 for next-best Aheadbyacentury), Wonder Gadot is very much the one to beat. She gets a five-pound weight break from the boys as well. Hall of Famer John Velazquez comes in to renew partnership with the 7-5 favorite on the morning line, who will break from the rail.
Queen’s Plate placegetters Aheadbyacentury and Cooler Mike must jump up to reverse form. Aheadbyacentury makes his first start away from Woodbine, but sports a dirt-friendly pedigree being by Midnight Lute and out of a full sister to 2006 Stephen Foster (G1) winner Seek Gold. The John Ross trainee scored his only stakes win in last fall’s Coronation Futurity, however, and was accordingly ignored at 28-1 in the Queen’s Plate.
Cooler Mike, an even bigger Queen’s Plate longshot when outperforming his 46-1 odds, is still searching for his first stakes win. His previous stakes credit was a second in the Simcoe at two to Eskiminzin, who faces a stamina question in this 1 3/16-mile test. Eskiminzin’s worst career loss came in his longest race, an eighth in the Marine (G3) over 1 1/16 miles, and he regained the winning thread on the cutback to six furlongs in the grassy Bold Ruckus last out. Rounding out the Canadian-based contingent is Absolution, two-for-eight so far and only sixth in the Plate Trial.
Aside from Wonder Gadot, the other dirt-proven entrant is Home Base from the Michael Tomlinson barn. Claimed from Gary and Mary West at Gulfstream Park, the $190,000 Keeneland September yearling broke his maiden at Keeneland over next-out winners Own Agenda and Rugbyman (later runner-up in the Easy Goer and fourth in the Dwyer [G3]). Home Base cleared his entry-level allowance condition at his Churchill Downs base, but flopped in his stakes debut in the June 16 Matt Winn (G3). As a son of Street Sense and the A.P. Indy mare Cast Call, and grandson of Grade 1 vixen Shadow Cast, Home Base deserves another crack at stakes company.