May 26, 2024

Plate Trial, Woodbine Oaks among stakes smorgasbord at Woodbine

Woodbine Racing (Michael Burns Photography)

A trio of graded stakes and a pair of important tests for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds highlight a stakes-laden card at Woodbine on Saturday. Here’s a rundown of what’s on tap.

Dance Smartly (G2)

The C$175,000 Dance Smartly Stakes (G2) for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles on the turf goes early as Race 3. Elizabeth Way will attempt to make it two graded stakes wins in a row following a neck decision in last month’s Nassau (G2) over a mile, but French import Etoile figures to get backing while shipping up from Saratoga for Chad Brown. A Group 3 winner last season, she was a disappointing eighth when favored in the May 25 Gamely (G1) at Santa Anita in her U.S. debut.

Theodora B. is another looking to rebound from a sub-par effort, in her case the Trillium (G3) over Woodbine’s Tapeta track last month

Bold Venture (G3)

The venerable 8-year-old veteran Pink Lloyd, a former Canadian Horse of the Year and winner in 24 of his 29 starts, will look to go 3-for-3 on the season in the C$125,000 Bold Venture Stakes (G3) over 6 furlongs on the Tapeta. Pink Lloyd crossed the wire in fourth in the 2019 Bold Venture last September, but was later declared a non-starter after it was determined he had an unfair start.

The Christophe Clement-trained turf sprinter White Flag ships up from New York for his first appearance on a synthetic surface, while Malibu Secret seeks to improve on his placings behind Pink Lloyd in the Jacques Cartier (G3) and Kennedy Road (G2).

Plate Trial

Six hopefuls for next month’s Queen’s Plate will contest the 9-furlong, C$150,000 Plate Trial. The stakes-debuting Clayton comes off a three-length allowance win over Elusive Knight, who’s run second in four consecutive outings. Halo Again has won the Queenston S. and Coronation Futurity in two local starts, while Dotted Line exits a fine third to the exciting Shirl’s Speight in the Marine (G3).

King Edward (G2)

Separated by a half-length at the end of last month’s Connaught Cup (G2), Silent Poet and Admiralty Pier step up from 7 furlongs to one mile for the C$175,000 King Edward (G2) on the turf. There’s even more speed in the field, courtesy of two-time Seagram Cup (G3) winner Mr Ritz.

Grade 2 scorer March to the Arch looks to rebound off a pair of unplaced finishes and might appreciate the return to Woodbine having captured the 2018 Toronto Cup in his only prior start on the local grass. Chad Brown sends French Group 3 winner Delaware north following a last-out second in a Belmont Park allowance.

Woodbine Oaks

The most lucrative event on the card is the C$500,000 Woodbine Oaks for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles, which might also yield a starter or two for the Queen’s Plate. Curlin’s Voyage, Justleaveitalone, and Infinite Patience occupied the first three slots in the 7-furlong Fury S. on July 5, with Justleaveitalone squeezing in an interim half-length maiden score over the Oaks distance.

Merveilleux, a last-out fourth in the Selene (G3), is not far off the best of these, while Lasting Union invades from Maryland for Michael Matz after back-to-back maiden and allowance wins at Laurel and Delaware Park, respectively.