The bettors knew.
At one point before the 159th Queen’s Plate, WONDER GADOT was 8 to 5 in the 16-horse Queen’s Plate field.
Figure players, sheet-number players were all over the incredible 3-year-old filly bred by David Anderson. Her numbers were just that much better.
Gary Barber’s wonder filly crushed the Plate field to become the 4th filly to win the Canadian Classic in the last 8 years, the 37th overall.
John Velazquez rode the filly for trainer Mark Casse. It was the 2nd Plate for Barber and Casse.
It was scorching hot at Woodbine which kept people in the shade or air conditioning for many points of the day. Horses were well taken care of with short post parades and no extra walking ring time.
The betting skyrocketed to $14.6 million, up $1 million from last year and plenty of recognizable faces from around Ontario were in the crowd such as Premier DOUG FORD who was in the Post Parade dining room to enjoy the races, although once people knew he was there, he had an endless line of well wishers and photo ops.
As for the race itself, WONDER GADOT stayed close to the sizzling pace set by stablemate TELEKINESIS, altough, the horses closest to the pace did just fine with only AHEADBYACENTURY coming from far bac to get 2nd for the ‘boys from Don Mills’ – Jack of Hearts Racing and trainer John Ross.
COOLER MIKE, the homebred for Nick and Mike Nosowenko, was an amazing 2nd under Jesse Campbell and Sam-Son farms’ Strike me Down was 4th. Dixie Moon, the Oaks, winner, never looked comfortable in the heat from paddock to race and she trailed but seemed fine at race end.
Wonder Gadot’s 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.28 was the 2nd fastest since 1998 and fastest since Strait of Dover ran in 2:01.99 in 2012.
Owner GARY BARBER said in the press box after the race that he “is very blessed to have her” and said “he loves fillies.”
Also exciting is that Barber is now breeding Ontario breds! He has mares producing foals by his stallion TOURIST arriving and that is great news for this province.
Of course, the ALABAMA was the race Barber mentioned he really wanted to win next so there is no question this iron horse filly will go to Saratoga for the 1 1/4 mile race.
“The distance is what she really wanted,’ said Casse after the race. “She will be tough against any filly at that distance.”
What really worked was the blinkers. After watching and handicapping thousands of races, a horse like Wonder Gadot (Medaglia D’Oro – Loving Vindication by Vindication), who had been 2nd or 3rd in a litany of big races this year such as the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, needed a bit more focus. She had been racing alongside her rivals in deep stretch.
Sunday, she blew by the field like she was on a mission.
Casse commented that the PRINCE OF WALES, July 24 at Fort Erie, could also be on the filly’s sked, although John oxley’s colt FLAMEAWAY will be in there and the owners will have to discuss their desires.
The Alabama is on Aug. 18.
Some fun photos from Saturday – on to AJAX DOWNS today for CANADA DAY festivities and we will catch up in a day or 2 on the ‘Blog!