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Trainer Casse sends out three in Queen's Plate

TORONTO – The post position draw for Sunday's 153rd running of the $1 million Queen's Plate, North America's oldest race, took place in the walking ring at Woodbine Racetrack on Friday morning. Strait of Dover (3-1) was made the morning line favorite with Plate Trial winner River Rush (4-1) made the second choice.

Here are some quick hitters from the post draw:

*The Honorary Drawmaster was Mark Tewksbury, a 1992 gold medalist for Canada in Barcelona. He won the 100-meter backstroke. He is a member of Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame and was named Canada's Male Athlete of the Year in 1992.

*Trainer Mark Casse sends out three horses in hopes of capturing the first Queen's Plate of his storied career. Casse will take the blinkers off of the filly Dixie Strike (8-1) after a poor performance in the Woodbine Oaks. He will also send out maiden winner Golden Ridge (6-1) and Making Amends (20-1).

*Eight-time Queen's Plate winning trainer Roger Attfield, always the showman, selected Post No. 9 for Colleen's Sailor in his attempt to extend his record win total in the Plate to nine. Corey Nakatani gets the ride back (he rode him in his last victory) from John Velazquez, who broke his collarbone in a spill at Churchill Downs last Saturday night. Ironically, Nakatani rode Colleen's Sailor in his last out, an allowance win at Woodbine.

*Some big name jockeys will be heading north to Woodbine this weekend, including Ramon Dominguez, who will ride Big Creek (10-1) for trainer Todd Pletcher. The trainer seeks his second Queen's Plate, winning his last 14 years ago with Archers Bay in 1998.

*Julien Leparoux will make his first ever Plate appearance. Leparoux will ride Peyton (20-1). Other New York-based riders making the trek will be Nakatani and Rajiv Maragh, who picks up the mount on late entry Washington Dash (50-1).

*The favorite, Strait of Dover, along with all of the colts in the race, will be riding at 126 pounds, more than 11 pounds heavier than in his last win in the Marine Stakes more than six weeks ago. His connections decided to skip the Plate Trial to be fresh for Sunday's big race.

*The two fillies in the race, Dixie Strike and Woodbine Oaks winner Irish Mission (10-1), will carry 121 pounds.

Gene Kershner is a Buffalo-based turf writer and handicapper who blogs on Sports, Ink. at buffalonews.com.