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Queen's Plate Post Position Draw

The connections of the entrants ponder their post position selections.

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Date: 6/25/04

On Thursday morning, post positions for the Queen's Plate were selected in the large, tree-shaded walking ring at Woodbine. Like at the Derby, selection order is determined using a random draw of numbered pills. After a five-minute discussion period, each horse's connections had ninety seconds to come up on stage to select the post. During the post position selection process, track announcer Dan Loiselle briefly interviewed each trainer. Here are some of their comments.

Trainer Eric Coatrieux chose post 6 for Alleged Ruler. When asked why, Coatrieux joked "I have no idea!" He also expressed a concern over his entrant's lack of seasoning.

Mike Rogers, representing Stronach Stables chose post 7. Trainer Dan Vella said, "This year has been a bit of a rush for everybody. He didn't cooperate, things didn't go as smoothly as we'd liked but things turned around at the right time and we're at 100% right now. We'd like to sit in behind the early speed, don't want to get into a traffic jam. Maybe 5th or 6th early."

Trainer Jim Day took post 11 for His Smoothness. When asked why, he said, "I don't think it makes a great big deal of difference, but my jockey Jimmy McKnight wants to be toward the outside starting out, this gives him a fair number options watch the rest of the field unfold down the stretch first time by. He got stuck on the inside in the Plate Trial, which I believe cost him a considerable amount of effort at the beginning of the race. This time we'll have an outside trip."

Catherine Day Phillips chose the 10 hole for A Bit O'Gold, the 2-1 morning line favorite. Day Phillips said, "(Jockey) Jono (Jones) and I discussed it, and he wanted to be in position where he could watch what's going on towards the inside. At a mile and a quarter there's a long run to the first turn so it really isn't a huge factor." Asked about how it feels to be training the favorite, she said, "I feel a lot better than I did last time. He's in very good order, I'm very happy with him and he's training great!"

Seven-time Queen's Plate winning trainer Roger Attfield chose post 12 for Just In Case Jimmy. Asked how he came up with the horse's name, "I named him after the bartender in the (turf) club. It's just a saying I've always had, 'just in case, Jimmy', and he'd pour me a drink. He never knew if I meant it was my last one." Asked about his come-from-behind win last time out, "He's actually better now than he's been all his life, whether he's good enough we'll find out on Sunday. I thought he deserved a shot and the mile and a quarter will be fine for him."

Trainer Mark Frostad chose post 9 for Sam-Son Farm representative Silver Ticket. Silver Ticket had a chip taken out of his ankle at the end of the last year. Frostad said, "They need some recuperation after that, we were bringing him along as quickly as possible but he didn't get there till just a few of weeks ago, ran a big race. He's very headstrong, he's a tough horse."

Dave Cotey, in his first Queen's Plate, chose the 5 post for Strike Em Hard. "We'll, we're loading late and I want to make sure we're in good position in that first turn. I hate to lose a lot of lengths going wide around the turn so we'll be very happy with this position." Asked why he lost by 15 lengths in the Plate Trial, Cotey said, "Might be a little talent factor! Other than that, he had quite a lot of mucus, a lot of pimples in his throat. After his last work which worked very very well we scoped him and everything is clean as a whistle. I'm sure he'll get the distance."

Trainer Vito Armata and his godson Joseph came up to pick post 4 for Archer Fleet. Asked if can repeat the upset he pulled in 2002 with T J's Lucky Moon, Armata said "If you're not in it, you can't win it!" What race strategy does he have in store for Archer Fleet? "Just follow in T J's footsteps!"

Mark Casse trains 2 entrants on Sunday. For Kent Ridge he chose post 8. No horse since 1956 has won the Plate off just one start as a 3-year-old, and Kent Ridge is attempting to buck that trend. Casse said, "I like challenges! Unfortunately this was the hand that was dealt to us so we're going to have to play it as best we can." Asked how he's been training up to the race, he said, "Wonderfully." He also quipped, "Next one is going to be really tough to pick," since he will be last to pick a post, for Long Pond

Trainer Tim Regan chose the 3 post for Will He Crow, owned by his father Larry. This is the first Plate starter for both father and son. Loiselle asked, "What a thrill this will be. You and dad are on cloud nine right now." Tim said, "Well, he is, I'm a little nervous myself! He acts like a good horse and in his last race he showed he can get the mile and a quarter. He's going to be way back" and hopefully will close well.

Mario Stolar, owner of Copper Trail, chose post 2 for his horse. Asked about supplementing him into the race for $50,000, he said "I first it would be (a tough decision) but (trainer) Jim (Day) felt really good about his chances. We waited because he was behind in training and by middle of May he made it easy." Loiselle commented, "This is only your second horse and you're running in the Plate. Tough business eh?" Stolar said, "I was told, go to the yearling sale, buy a colt, and three years later, put him in the Plate."

Bob Krembil, owner of Niigon, came up to choose post 13. Asked about his comeback after an unsuccessful winter down in Florida, Krembil said, "We're very pleased. We were disappointed with him down south, he's just a late developer, but he seems to be coming into his own right now. Likely he will be close to the pace."

Finally, Mark Casse returned to the stage to "choose" the only post left for Long Pond, who will have jockey Stewart Elliott in from Monmouth Park to ride. Jokingly, he put Long Pond's sign on the 6 post covering up Alleged Ruler then returned it to the rail position. Asked how he felt about getting the 1 post, he answered with a story. "When I was about 20, I had (jockey Angel) Cordero on my horse in the 8th race and in the 9th race. He rode in the 8th then he took off after the 8th, so I went in and they said 'you have two choices for a rider. Dave Borden or Dave Borden'. So I said 'Give me Dave Borden.' So I feel the same way with the 1 hole. But, he's a smart horse and he's going to need to be covered up anyway so he's not going to have any problems from the 1 hole."

Queen's Plate info online:

All photos ©2004 Cindy Pierson Dulay.

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