The Toronto faithful has seen its share of successful fillies over the past seven years at the Queen's Plate.
The 2018 edition could result in another filly coronation in the $1 million race next Saturday afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack.
Fillies have had their way in the Queen’s Plate since 2011 when the filly Inglorious kicked off the decade with a big win. Lexie Lou gave trainer Mark Casse his first and only Plate win in the 2014 edition and Holy Helena was the most recent filly to win Canada’s Most Famous Race last year. Throw in Irish Mission’s second-place finish in 2012 and you have three wins and a second for fillies in the last seven years.
Two fillies figure to be in the top three choices in this year’s edition. The 1-2 finishers in the Woodbine Oaks, Dixie Moon and Wonder Gadot, the Kentucky Oaks runner-up, should in the mix when the morning line is released next Wednesday morning.
Dixie Moon is trained by Catherine Day Phillips, who will be looking for a breakout performance from the daughter of Curlin out of Dixie Chicken (Rahy). She defeated post time favorite Wonder Gadot, the Casse-trained filly who impressed at Churchill Downs on the first Friday in May. Her time was faster than the Plate trial winner by 0.02 seconds to boot.
Day Phillips will saddle Dixie Moon, who has four wins in eight starts, including a win over the turf against males last year in the Cup and Saucer Stakes. She finished sixth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar, so she’s not afraid of a little competition. Eurico Rosa da Silva, last year’s top jockey at Woodbine, will be aboard the Oaks winner.
Wonder Gadot has tackled some of the best fillies in the States and will have Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro. Mark Casse is looking for his second Queen’s Plate win after finally getting off the duck with Lexie Lou in 2014.
The likely post time favorite is Telekinesis, the Plate Trial winner in his first race on the Woodbine Tapeta on June 9. He was coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland behind My Boy Jack, who ran well in the Derby.
Will the winterbook favorite, a son of Ghostzapper, be able to hold off the filly charges on Saturday June 30 and move on to the second leg of Canada’s Triple Crown? He’ll have Casse’s go-to rider Patrick Husbands in the irons.
No horse has completed the Canadian Triple Crown since Wando in 2003, nor has one captured the first two legs since then. The second leg of the Triple Crown is just across the Peace Bridge at Fort Erie Race Track. The second jewel will be run at 1 3/16-miles at the border oval on Tuesday evening July 24.
The Plate moved off its traditional Sunday date to be run on a Saturday this year. After finding success after moving the Woodbine Mile to a Saturday two years ago, it should be a good move having most of North America tuned in next Saturday afternoon on a big race day.
Critically acclaimed country music superstar Brad Paisley will kick off the Queen's Plate Festival on Friday, June 29 with a concert after the race action is over. On Saturday, June 30, Sam Roberts Band will perform a live concert following the Queen's Plate.
The News will once again be on hand for the Plate draw next Wednesday and on site for the Plate in suburban Toronto.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.
PROBABLE FIELD FOR THE 159TH RUNNING OF THE QUEEN'S PLATE
Horse / Trainer / Owner / Jockey
Aheadbyacentury / John Ross / Jack of Hearts Racing and J.R. Racing / Luis Contreras
Alternative Route / Al Stall, Jr. / Spendthrift Farm LLC & Town and Country Racing, LLC / Mitchell Murrill
Boyhood Dream / Michael Maker / Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey / TBD
Cooler Mike / Nick Nosowenko / Mike and Nick Nosowenko / Jesse Campbell
Dixie Moon / Catherine Day Phillips / Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry / Eurico Rosa da Silva
Inge / Norm McKnight / Bruno Schickedanz / TBD
Marriage Counselor / Michael Maker / Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey / TBD
Neepawa / Mark Casse / Chiefswood Stable / Florent Geroux
Pawnbroker / Michael Maker / Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey / TBD
Real Dude / Sid Attard / Stronach Stables / David Moran
Rose’s Vision / Stu Simon / Chiefswood Stable / Javier Castellano
Say the Word / Graham Motion / Sam-Son Farm / Rafael Hernandez
Silent Poet / Nick Gonzalez / Stronach Stable / Gary Boulanger
Strike Me Down / Graham Motion / Sam-Son Farm / Jose Ortiz
Telekinesis / Mark Casse / Stonestreet Stables LLC / Patrick Husbands
Wonder Gadot / Mark Casse / Gary Barber / John Velazquez