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The barbecue is held in the walking ring behind the grandstand.
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Queen's Plate Barbecue

Date: 6/16/03

Woodbine's Festival of Racing Week kicked off on Monday afternoon with the traditional Queen's Plate barbecue held in the walking ring. Some of the contenders for Sunday's Plate were brought to the walking ring to be paraded in front of the horsemen, racing officials, and media in attendance, and then have some posed photographs taken with their owner, trainer, jockey, and groom. This tradition seems to be enjoyed by the human participants moreso than the equine ones, some of which showed obvious displeasure at being brought so close to all those people and flashing cameras.

The post position draw for the Queen's Plate will be held on Thursday morning. Post time for the Plate will be 5:07pm on Sunday June 22nd and the race will be televised in Canada on SportsNet and simulcast to many locations throughout the United States.

Here are the contenders and their connections who were present plus any comments made.


Arco's Gold, winner of the Coronation Futurity as a 2-year-old and third last out in the Grade 3 Marine Stakes, was first into the walking ring, led by groom Wesley Henry. Regular rider Constant Montpellier said, "I liked him from the very first time I climbed aboard him. He never gives up and just keeps plugging away." Last week trainer John Ross sent him out for a 1:40 workout over a mile on the main track. Ross said of his charge, "He's got a lot of heart, a nice attitude, and hopefully that comes out on Plate day."


Dance Engagement, led by groom Steve McLarty, has his work cut out for him, coming into the Plate off just two lifetime stats and no wins, but he was a close second in the Victoria Park Stakes last out. Trainer John Ross (who also trains Arco's Gold) said of the effort, "After what he did in the Victoria Park, he deserves a shot at the Queen's Plate. His pedigree suggests he can go long and he's training well too." His sire Dance Brightly is a full brother to 2000 Plate winner Scatter the Gold and 2001 winner Dancethruthedawn.


Islendingur, another maiden, was next into the walking ring, led by his groom Marie Bahlawan. Trainer J. Alec Fehr said, "He's not a big horse but he did put on some weight over the winter. I think he can get the distance. He's getting better every time he steps on the track. He wants to do it badly. He's trying to beat those other horses. He knows what he's supposed to do and he's enjoying it."


Mobil, winner of the Queenston and the Plate Trial in his last two starts and likely post time favorite for the Plate, was brought out by groom Christine Windsor. Trainer Mike Keogh said, "He's a versatile horse and he's shown he can win in different ways and on different surfaces. He's just a great horse to be around." On June 10 he worked 5 furlongs in 1:01 2/5, "just a maintenance work, but he did it very nicely" according to Keogh. Regular rider Todd Kabel added, "He felt great and I was very happy with the effort."


Wando, Mobil's stablemate and winner of the Woodstock Stakes and Marine Stakes this year, was brought out by groom Amanda Erwin. Trainer Mike Keogh said, "I wasn't sure he could go that far, but after his effort in the Marine Stakes you never know. He's a true gentleman. I've had some good horses in my career, including his father (Langfuhr), but he was the best 2-year-old I ever had. I think he looks like his old man." The only blemish on his record was a 12th place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Arlington in October. Keogh said of that race, "As soon as we drew the outside post I knew it would be an issue. We had no choice but to go to the front. But he came back strong (in his next start) and showed what he's capable of. He's just a really nice colt."


Next into the ring was Peef, led by groom Joanna Beverly. Third in the Plate Trial last time out, his trainer Rita Schnitzler is confident the extra furlong will help. "He could come up with a big one. He looks definitely like he's handle the mile and a quarter. He's a big plodder. He likes to just keep trucking." Like co-favorites Wando and Mobil, he is a son of champion sprinter Langfuhr and was bred by Gus Schickedanz. He gets a rider change to Steven Bahen who upset last year's Plate aboard 82-1 longshot T J's Lucky Moon.


Shoal Water, representing the perennial powerhouse of Canadian racing Sam-Son Farm, was brought out by groom Hulio Mendoza. He is coming into the Plate off a two-race winning streak, his maiden win and then a 4 1/2 length romp over an allowance field, a race which earned him a whopping 93 Beyer, a figure topped only by co-favorites Mobil and Wando. Trainer Mark Frostad said, "It was a good race. I thought he might need a race but it turned out he didn't. He ran very well. He's a pretty nice horse, good to train. He's got decent speed. I think he's a better horse on turf though." On Sunday he will get a new rider in Robert Landry, replacing Todd Kabel who gets Mobil.


Last out for parade this afternoon was Beclawat Stable homebred Solihull, led by groom Linda Davis. Incidentally, Beclawat owner Les Pereira bred Arco's Gold who was sold at auction for $110,000. Pereira said, "What are the odds of doing that, a little guy like me with only five mares?" After breaking his maiden and then following that up with an impressive allowance win, he bounced badly in the Plate Trial finishing sixth. Trainer David Bell said, "He seemed like he stressed himself on that track. He was up closer than he normally is, then he made his run around the turn, then went 'poof'. But he should be able to get the distance. I still like him."

Queen's Plate info online:

All photos ©2002 Cindy Pierson Dulay and Terence Dulay.

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