Amis Gizmo and Shakhimat, the top two finishers from the June 12 Plate Trial, will renew their rivalry on Sunday in the $1-million Queen’s Plate.
The 157th running of the Queen’s Plate, the oldest annually-run stakes race in North America, attracted a field of 13 Canadian-bred three-year-olds. The race will be televised live by CTV/TSN 2 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. with post time set for 5:36 p.m. (ET). The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, will be the Royal guest of honour.
All starters in the Queen’s Plate will carry 126 pounds except the filly Gamble’s Ghost, who will tote 121 pounds in the 1 ¼-mile classic over Woodbine’s Tapeta.
Amis Gizmo rebounded from a disappointing effort in the Wando Stakes to rally to a convincing win in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial.
Owned and bred by Ivan Dalos, Amis Gizmo was unbeaten in four starts at two and suffered his first defeat in the Wando. He will be ridden by Luis Contreras and is trained by Josie Carroll.
Contreras also has been the regular rider of Gamble’s Ghost, who is coming off a troubled second-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks for owner/breeder Dalos and trainer Carroll.
Gamble’s Ghost, who has won the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Selene and Mazarine Stakes here at Woodbine, will have Patrick Husbands in the irons for the first time. Amis Gizmo drew post 10 and Gamble’s Ghost will start from the extreme outside.
“I have two horses with two different styles of running,” said Carroll. “I think Amis Gizmo will be fairly forwardly placed, and Gamble’s Ghost is a closer. Hopefully their posts will play to one or both of their strengths.”
Carroll is the only female trainer to win the Queen’s Plate, having accomplished that feat with the filly Inglorious in 2011 and the colt Edenwold in 2006. Inglorious gave Contreras his first Plate win.
Shakhimat, the odds-on choice in the Plate Trial, will be looking to turn the tables on Amis Gizmo and give trainer Roger Attfield a record ninth Queen’s Plate win.
Attfield, who won his first Queen’s Plate with Norcliffe in 1976, currently is tied with Harry Giddings Jr. Not Bourbon, in 2008, was Attfield’s eighth Plate winner.
Shakhimat was a 9 ¾ length winner of last year’s 1 1/8 mile Coronation Futurity.
That victory was accomplished in front-running style, as was his score in Keeneland’s Transylvania on the turf this spring and his successful debut here last September.
Shakhimat will start from post 6 under regular rider Emma-Jayne Wilson.
“We know he loves to be on the lead, but we’ve been training him to come from off the pace,” said Attfield. “It’s going to be up to Emma, really. If there’s two or three that want to go out there and really ding along I think he can sit off them. And if it doesn’t happen that way he can go to the lead. He’s in very good order, so that part’s okay. Other than that it’s another day at the races.”
Surprisingly, no winner of the Coronation Futurity has come back to capture the Plate since Norcliffe in 1976.
Wilson, who became the first and still only female jockey to win the Queen’s Plate when she guided Mike Fox to victory in 2007, is the regular rider of Shakhimat.
Leavem in Malibu will be making just his fourth career start and stakes debut in the Queen’s Plate but is an up-and-coming colt from the powerhouse stable of trainer Mark Casse.
Unstarted at two, Leavem in Malibu finished third in his debut here this spring but has impressed in back-to-back 1 1/16-mile scores under returning rider Gary Boulanger.
“Honestly, for the cards we’ve been dealt, with our late start, I don’t think you could have accomplished much more. I’m real happy with where’s he’s at, and what he’s done. We’re ready,” said Casse. “I think he’s got enough speed that he can be forwardly placed; I’d rather not be real far back. Hopefully he can save some ground in the first turn, and start sorting things out down the backside.”
Leavem in Malibu will break from post 4.
California-based owner Gary Barber, whose private purchase Lexie Lou gave Casse his first Plate win in 2014, acquired a half-interest in Leavem in Malibu from owners Penny and Manfred Conrad following the colt’s maiden victory.
Boulanger also will be looking for his second Plate success after getting the job done with the filly Dancethruthedawn in 2001.
Sir Dudley Digges, third in the Plate Trial, is one of three Queen’s Plate entrants based south of the border along with Esposito and Scholar Athlete.
Owned by the high-profile couple Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, Sir Dudley Diggs will be seeking his second lifetime win as the first Plate entrant for Kentucky-based trainer Mike Maker. Julien Leparoux will be coming north for the mount.
Esposito, trained by Tom Proctor, will be making just his second start of the season after vanning north for an impressive score at Woodbine on June 5.
Alan Garcia, who rode Esposito for the first time that day, will be back aboard the Ghostzapper colt who broke his maiden at Del Mar. He then finished third in Remington Park’s Springboard Mile in his third and final start as a two-year-old for Chartwell Partners LLC.
Proctor won three stakes here with Marketing Mix earlier this decade.
Esposito and Scholar Athlete both are based at Fair Hill in Maryland and train on Tapeta.
Scholar Athlete, owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and conditioned by Graham Motion, made his four starts as a two-year-old here at Woodbine, concluding with a third in the Coronation Futurity.
Jose Ortiz, who guided Scholar Athlete to victory in an allowance event on the Belmont turf last time out, will be riding in Canada for the first time. The Queen’s Plate will be his local seasonal bow.
All On Red also will be making his second start at Woodbine after missing by a neck travelling 1 1/16-miles on June 11.
The colt also was racing for the trainer Sid Attard for the first time after breaking his maiden at Aqueduct in his second career outing for JMJ Racing Stables LLC. Woodbine’s leading rider Eurico Rosa da Silva returns aboard All On Red.
In addition to Amis Gizmo, there are five other Ontario-sired entrants in the Queen’s Plate—Narrow Escape, Mike, Rocket Plan, My Name Is Jim, and Cheburashka.
Narrow Escape was returning from an eight-month layoff when he recorded his second straight win at 1 1/16-miles here June 11.
Sheena Ryan has the call on Narrow Escape, who is trained by Justin Nixon. JMC’s Racing Stable, Warren Dehan and Nixon own the colt.
Trainer John LeBlanc will send out his first two Plate starters in Mike and Rocket Plan.
Mike, a full brother to Pender Harbour, races for the partnership of his breeder, Paradox Farm; Mardon Stable and Hugh Sutherland.
The 2014 local yearling sales-topper at $325,000, Mike sports a record of 1-0-2 from four starts and broke his maiden at seven furlongs in his only start last year. David Moran has the call.
Rocket Plan was supplemented at a cost of $25,000 by owner/breeder Bill Gierkink. The gelding broke his maiden two starts back and will be stretching out from seven furlongs under Simon Husbands.
My Name Is Jim notched his maiden victory last out over 1 1/8-miles when making his third career start for trainer Reade Baker and owner Mario Forgione. Jesse Campbell takes over in the irons.
Cheburashka, also supplemented, finished fourth behind Narrow Escape last time out to snap a two-race win streak.
Bob Tiller trains the homebred Cheburashka for Goldmart Farm and Rafael Hernazdez, winner of the 2015 Queen’s Plate aboard Shaman Ghost, will do the riding.
Sunday’s blockbuster Woodbine card, with the first of 13 races set for 12 p.m., also includes three graded turf stakes—the six-furlong Highlander, 1 1/8-mile Dance Smartly, and 1 ½-mile Singspiel.
FIELD FOR THE $1-MILLION QUEEN’S PLATE
For Three-Year-Olds, Foaled In Canada
One Mile and One-Quarter, Tapeta
All to carry 126 pounds except filly Gamble’s Ghost (121 pounds)
PP / HORSE / TRAINER / OWNER / JOCKEY / ODDS
1 / Mike / John LeBlanc Jr. / Paradox Farm, Inc., et al / David Moran / 30-1
2 / Narrow Escape / Justin Nixon / JMC’s Racing Stable, W. Dehan et al / Sheena Ryan / 30-1
3 / All On Red / Sid Attard / JMJ Racing Stables LLC / Eurico Rosa da Silva / 12-1
4 / Leavem in Malibu / Mark Casse / Gary Barber & Conrad Farms / Gary Boulanger / 7-2
5 / Sir Dudley Digges / Mike Maker
/Kenneth L. & Sarah Ramsey / Julien Leparoux / 15-1
6 / Shakhimat / Roger Attfield / Dan Gale & Richard Hogan / Emma-Jayne Wilson / 5-1
7 / My Name Is Jim / Reade Baker / Mario Forgione / Jesse Campbell / 30-1
8 / Rocket Plan /John LeBlanc Jr. / William Gierkink / Simon Husbands / 30-1
9 / Cheburashka / Robert Tiller / Goldmart Farms / Rafael Hernandez / 30-1
10/ Amis Gizmo / Josie Carroll / Ivan Dalos / Luis Contreras / 3-1
11/ Esposito / Tom Proctor / Chartwell Partners LLC / Alan Garcia / 8-1
12/ Scholar Athlete / Graham Motion / West Point Thoroughbreds / Jose Ortiz / 12-1
13/ Gamble’s Ghost / Josie Carroll / Ivan Dalos / Patrick Husbands / 6-1