QUEEN’S PLATE UPDATE
Avie’s Mesa out
Just 2 weeks to the most famous horse race in Canada – the 158th Queen’s Plate – and the guys and the girls are beginning to gear up for their final preparations for the 1 1/4 mil Canadian classic.
This year’s Plate, July 2, is part of a two-day Festival at Woodbine celebrating the big race, Canada Day and the 250th anniversary of horse racing in Canada.
Our Lady Peace and Goo Goo Dolls play concerts on the Saturday and Sunday and the best racehorses will be on display.
Trainer Josie Carroll has said AVIE’S MESA will not race in the Plate after being jarred up in the Plate Trial. Ivan Dalos’ colt could return to racing for the 1 1/2 mile Breeders’ Stakes on the grass.
INFLEXIBILITY, the 3yo filly owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence and trained by Chad Brown, is set to come back after a 3rd place finish in the Woodbine Okas.
The filly had a bit of a weird trip around the last turn of the Oaks when she lost all kinds of ground, before she rallied.
HOLY HELENA, the Oaks winner, is expected back as well for Stronach Stables and trainer JImmy Jerkens.
The field could look like this (11):
INFLEXIBILITY – filly, 3rd in Oaks, Trainer – Chad Brown
HOLY HELENA filly, won Oaks, trainer Jimmy Jerkens
CHANNEL MAKER – 2nd Marine Stakes, trainer Bill Mott.
GUY CABALLERO – won Plate Trial, trainer – Catherine Day Phillips
STATE OF HONOR – 3rd Plate trial – Trainer Mark Casse
KING AND HIS COURT – 2nd Plate Trial – trainer Mark Casse
MEGAGRAY – 4th Marine, trainer Mike Keogh
TIZ A SLAM – 4th Plate Trial – Trainer Roger Attfield
MALIBU SECRET – 3rd Marine Stakes, Trainer Malcolm Pierce
AURORA WAY – won debut – trainer Stuart Simon
WATCH ME STRUT – allowance winner – Trainer Catherine Day Phillips
Sheryl McSwain, a longtime member of the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) family and assistant racing secretary, passed away on June 13 following a courageous bout with cancer.
“Members of the Thoroughbred Racing team who have worked with Sheryl over the last 34 years, and those within the greater Woodbine community that knew Sheryl not only grieve at the passing of a tremendous individual, but also for the loss her family suffers at this difficult time,” said Steve Lym, Director of Thoroughbred Racing for WEG.
Sheryl will be greatly missed.
BREAKING LUCKY 3RD IN STEPHEN FOSTER after a tough trip
Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm’s heavily-favored Gun Runner took the lead shortly after the start, shook off a brief challenge from Stanford on the far turn and drew away easily under jockey Florent Geroux through the homestretch for an easy seven-length victory before crowd of 20,669 in Saturday’s 36th running of the $500,000, Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap President by GE Appliances at Churchill Downs.
The 4-year-old son of Candy Ride (ARG), saddled by Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, won for the third time in his last four races and the Stephen Foster victory secured the colt a starting spot in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at California’s Del Mar Race Course on Nov. 4. The race was part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In Classic Division” series of races, which awards winners of its races an automatic berth in Breeders’ Cup Classic along with traveling expenses for the journey to Southern California.
Gun Runner covered the Stephen Foster’s 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:47.56 – the fifth-fastest running of the Stephen Foster. The colt’s victory margin was a record and eclipsed Street Cry (IRE), a winner of the Dubai World Cup in his previous start, who won the 2002 Foster by 6 ½ lengths.
Gun Runner has emerged as one of the leading Thoroughbreds in the world and entered the Stephen Foster tied for fourth in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings. His only loss in his last four races was a runner-up finish to 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arragoate, the top-ranked horse in the world, in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (Group 1) in his previous start at Dubai’s Meydan Racecourse on March 25.
Gun Runner paid $3, $2.40 and $1.10 as the odds-on favorite in the overmatched field of seven rivals. Honorable Duty rallied to finish second under jockey Javier Castellano and returned $4 and $2.60. It was 1 ¼ lengths back to Breaking Lucky, who finished third under Luis Contreras and paid $3 to show. Hawaakom, a 45-1 longshot ridden by Miguel Mena, finished 1 ½-lengths farther back in fourth.
Gun Runner’s Stephen Foster Handicap triumph improved his career record to 8-3-2 in 15 races and the winner’s purse of $300,700 boosted his lifetime earnings to $4,638,500.
After easily moving to the early lead from his No. 3 post position, Gun Runner cruised under Geroux through early fractions of :23.59 for the quarter, :47.23 for a half-mile and six furlongs in 1:10.69. Stanford was in close pursuit down the backstretch and jockey John Velazquez moved that rival toward the leader heading into the far turn, but Gun Runner shook off that challenge and any suspense regarding the winner of the Stephen Foster quickly evaporated as the heavy favorite easily pulled away to his impressive victory.
Stanford finished fifth in the Stephen Foster, and was followed past the finish line by Texas Chrome, Mo Tom and Bird Song.
Gun Runner, who impressively beat a powerful group of accomplished older rivals in last fall’s $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) at Churchill Downs became the fourth horse to will win the Clark and returned to win next spring’s Stephen Foster. The others are No Marker (1989-90), Saint Liam (2004-05) and Blame (2009-10).
LUIS CONTRERAS, jockey of BREAKING LUCKY (third): “He always runs such a hard race. I thought we could’ve run second but we ran into some trouble in the stretch. I’m still proud of how well he ran.”
READE BAKER, trainer of BREAKING LUCKY (third): “We had a troubled trip down the lane, I’m not sure who exactly who got us in trouble but with a clearer trip I think we could’ve ran second. There was no catching the winner today.”
ROYAL ASCOT BEGINS TUESDAY – CHURCHILL IN ST. JAMES PALACE
Preview from Brisnet.com
The opening Queen Anne (G1), the straight mile contest that Tepin conquered last June, features a heavy favorite in multiple Group 1 performer Ribchester. Trained by Richard Fahey for Godolphin, Ribchester comes off a daylight victory in the key stepping stone, the Lockinge (G1). His opponents include Lockinge runner-up Lightning Spear, who had been third to Tepin a year ago; Mutakayyef, a sharp winner of the 2016 Summer Mile (G2) on Ascot’s round course and third to Tepin in the Woodbine Mile (G1); O’Brien’s duo of Belmont Derby (G1) hero Deauville and Cougar Mountain, third to Solow in the 2015 Queen Anne; and American contenders Miss Temple City and American Patriot.
O’Brien, an eight-time winner of the Coventry (G2) for juveniles, may have his best chance of adding to that haul with Declarationofpeace. A $2.6 million Keeneland November weanling, this War Front half-brother to champion Honor Code just galloped in a Dundalk maiden. But stablemate Murillo was impressive in his maiden victory as well, and both have a few Royal Ascot options. Declarationofpeace is vying for favoritism in the early betting with the Jessica Harrington-trained Brother Bear, who remained perfect in the Marble Hill. Wesley Ward sends out Arawak, an Uncle Mo colt coming off a romp in the Belmont mud. Richard Hannon’s duo of De Bruyne Horse and Denaar are also garnering support in the six-furlong affair, which will crystallize once final declarations are announced Sunday.
Ward star Lady Aurelia, who spread-eagled the field in last year’s Queen Mary (G2) over course and distance, now steps up against older horses in the King’s Stand (G1). Distaffers are prominent in the five-furlong dash, with Prix de l’Abbaye (G1) heroine Marsha now edging closer to favored Lady Aurelia in the antepost market. Priceless, who just beat 2015 King’s Stand victor Goldream in the Temple (G2), is another female with solid credentials. Unlike sophomore Lady Aurelia, Marsha and Priceless are both four-year-olds. Other top contenders are Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) winner Signs of Blessing; defending champion Profitable; Muthmir, third in the 2015 edition; and O’Brien’s Washington DC.
The St James’s Palace (G1) ,,
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