ETOBICOKE, Ont. – This time Flavien Prat didn’t need a disqualification to win the first leg of a Triple Crown race.
Prat who rode Country House in the Kentucky Derby, and was placed first after the disqualification of Maximum Security, captured the 160th Queen’s Plate aboard One Bad Boy.
The win was historic as Prat became the first jockey since 1998 to win the Kentucky Derby and the Queen’s Plate in the same year. Kent Desormeaux achieved the feat that year with wins in both of the first legs of the respective Triple Crown series, like Prat on different horses. In 1964, Bill Hartack rode Northern Dancer to victory in both races.
One Bad Boy is owned by Sayjay Racing LLC, Greg Hall and bloodstock agent Brooke Hubbard.
The key to the win was an equipment change made by trainer Richard Baltas on the winner taking the blinkers off which relaxed the west coast shipper. He finished the race 3 1/2-lengths ahead of Avie’s Flatter, staving off a bid in mid-stretch from the winterbook favorite.
“No one went to the lead, so I decided to go for the lead,” said Prat. “We went pretty easy in the first quarter and through the backside. We had Javier’s horse outside of me, who I thought was the horse to beat. When we turned for home, my horse reengaged and kind of drove away from the eighth pole. I think taking the blinkers off was the winning move,” said Prat.
The son of Twirling Candy completed the mile-and-a-quarter trek in 2:02.98 and returned $9.70 to his backers for the win, $4.80 to place and $4 to show. Avie’s Flatter returned $4.30 to place and $2.80 to show for trainer Josie Carroll. Tone Broke who wiped out post time favorite Skywire at the start, paid $8.50 for his third place finish.
With temperatures hovering around 80 degrees most of the afternoon in suburban Toronto, One Bad Boy claimed the $600,000 first-place money and the first leg of Canada’s Triple Crown. The connections will review a decision to run the ridgling in the second jewel at Fort Erie Race Track on July 23.
Prat said that the horse, who trains on the dirt in the mornings at Santa Anita, should be able to handle the dirt at Santa Anita, but the decision lies with Hubbard and Baltas. With a $500,000 Triple Crown bonus sponsored by OLG, that decision may be a little easier to make this year.
One Bad Boy ran his first two races on dirt at Santa Anita before breaking his maiden on the turf there. The third and final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown is at 1 ½-miles on the E.P. Taylor turf course at Woodbine on Aug. 17.
In his second career race on the dirt at Santa Anita he finished second to the highly regarded Omaha Beach, so hopefully the border oval beckons for the Plate winner.
Hubbard, who serves as the racing manager for the ownership group picked out the dark brown horse named similarly to his Ontario-bred half-sister Ms Bad Behavior, was ecstatic after the race on the turf course. One of the big question marks was the added distance, as One Bad Boy had not run a race further than a mile coming into the Plate.
“We’re super excited, we didn’t know if he was going to get the distance, but obviously he did got it. Now we’re going to plan what’s next for him,” she said.
Owner Greg Hall said Hubbard had her eye on this race for months, making her first trip to Woodbine from her California home base. “She had put this race out in front of him back in December or January before the horse even raced,” said Hall. “We felt that he would be a good horse for the (U.S.) Triple Crown, but he just didn’t have the points or hadn’t raced enough, so we pointed him this way.”
Many thought the race was going to go through second-place finisher Avie’s Flatter, who had shown flashes of brilliances in his races in the U.S., winning the Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland. The son of Flatter just couldn’t get past the winner who he tracked the entire way around the Tapeta surface.
Trainer Josie Carroll seeking her third Queen’s Plate win was disappointed in defeat, but proud of her colt’s effort. “I thought Avie’s Flatter ran a great race. He stalked the winner all the way and he couldn’t get by him. I think he ran a great race and was second-best today,” said Carroll.
Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano won two graded stakes on the undercard, just fell short with Avie’s Flatter. “I kept tracking the winner right there all the way on the lead,” said Castellano. “He never stopped and he never came back to me. I was in perfect position in the race, the race was slow and I was right next to him (One Bad Boy) but I couldn’t get by.”
After surviving an inquiry for a collision at the start of the race with Skywire, Tone Broke maintained his third place position in his first race on a synthetic surface. Jockey Luis Contreras was pleased with how the son of Broken Vow finished.
“I was just sitting right behind the speed,” said Contreras. “I was very pleased how my horse relaxed. He was so sharp in the post parade and I was a little bit worried. I was just riding behind the speed and once I was in the race, I thought I had a really good chance to win, but I’m very pleased how he ran first time on the Tapeta.”
So on to Fort Erie and the border oval’s big day in the sun on July 23, where the feature of the twilight card will be the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown. There hasn’t been a Canadian Triple Crown attempt since Wando secured all three legs.
There is only One Bad Boy trying to end that 16-year drought.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.