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Wet Your Whistle heads to the winner's circle after the Highlander (G1).
Queen's Plate Day is one of the biggest racedays of the year at Woodbine and always attracts the largest crowd of the year. Saturday's 13-race program produced a record handle for Queen's Plate day totalling just over $18 million up 23% from last year's $14.6 million total. Horseplayers wagered a record $4.6 million on the race itself, with on track handle growth by 14 per cent. Those who filled the grandstand and the apron on Saturday afternoon were treated to five additional stakes races on the undercard, all over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course rated good-to-firm (GoingStick reading 9.9) after some overnight rain. It was partly cloudy with a afternoon high of 29 C (83 F). There were two races (non-stakes) contested over the new inner turf course, which is designed to drain water more effectively and it had a GoingStick reading of 12.4 (firm).
Immediately before the Queen's Plate, a field of 9 older horses contested the $300,000 Highlander Stakes (G1) at 6 furlongs on the turf. Joe Hernandez Stakes (G3) winner Caribou Club was sent off as the 11-4 favorite off his last place finish in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1), over 15-4 Extravagant Kid, winner of the Mighty Beau, and 7-2 Wet Your Whistle, winner of the Get Serious Stakes.
Jockey Jessy Campbell sent 19-1 Yorkton to a clear lead at the start through fractions of 22.44 and 44.87 while pressed by Extravagant Kid and stalked by 27-1 Souper Smart. ENtering the stretch, Yorkton tired allowing Extravagant Kid to inherit the lead through 5f in 56.14. Wet Your Whistle, last early under Alex Cintron, came out 3 wide for room and rallied to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:07.88. It was another 1/2 length back to 4-1 fourth choice White Flag third.
Left: Wet Your Whistle in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Mike Trombetta said, "You know he just learned to settle himself down just enough. He's a high-strung type of individual and he's learned to run when he's supposed to and it's been a lot of fun. He is one of those kind of horses. He can do 5 1/2 furlongs and probably up to a mile. I think he definitely prefers one turn, but there's lots of options for him. You know, he will do synthetic as well. So there are lots of choices."
Right: Wet Your Whistle gets hosed off after the race. Winning jockey Alex Cintron said, "The last couple times he did not get out so well. I just left him alone. He's been running great that - I just tried not to change anything in this race. I just tried to ride the same race I rode the last time. And I think he ran better than the last time. I was impressed with the last 1/4 mile he was flying. He floated."
After the arrival of Lieutenant-Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, a field of 8 older fillies and mares contested the $175,000 Dance Smartly Stakes (G2) at 1 1/4 miles on the turf. 2017 Queen's Plate winner Holy Helena was sent off as the 6-5 favorite off her 4th place finish in the New York Stakes (G2). In to challenge her included 9-4 Starship Jubilee, 12nd in the Nassau Stakes (G2), and 11-2 Rock my Love, unraced since 8th in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein (G2) at Longchamp in October.
After breaking outward to the center of the course, jockey Flavien Prat sent Rock my Love back down to the hedge and to the lead exiting the dogleg through easy fractions of 26.24, 51.41, and 1:15.74 while pressed by Holy Helena and stalked by 20-1 Art of Almost. Rock my Love continued to lead into the stretch through 1 mile in 1:38.60, but tired midstretch. Jockey Javier Castellano moved Holy Helena out for room and the favorite easily took over at the 1/16 pole and drew off to win by 1 1/4 lengths over late-running Starship Jubilee in 2:02.08. It was another neck back to Art of Almost third.
Left: Holy Helena in the winner's circle. Winning owner-breeder Frank Stronach said, "I'm saying the Canadian air does a lot of good for her. Mike (Doyle, locally-based farm manager) had her here for a week and a half and I think things are great - they work well together. Javier is such a great rider. He didn't panic."
Right: Holy Helena gets hosed off after the race. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "I liked the way she did it today, the way she settled. I didn't panic at the 3/8 because somebody moved outside me. I just sat still and made one run. The way she did it (was) phenomenal. The way she finished, unbelievable."
The $175,000 King Edward Stakes (G2) featured a field of 8 older horses going 1 mile on the turf. Monmouth Stakes (G2) runner-up Synchrony was the 11-10 favorite over 5-2 Mr Ritz, 2nd in the Eclipse (G2), and 11-2 Emmaus, 2nd in the Connaught Cup (G2).
Jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva sent Mr Ritz to lead through fractions of 23.65, 46.34, and 1:09.28 while pressed by 13-2 Curlin's Honor and stalked by Emmaus. Turning for home Mr Ritz tired allowing Curlin's Honor to inherit the lead through 7f in 1:20.85, but Synchrony, 6th early under Javier Castellano, came out 3 wide for room and rallied to win by a length in 1:32.95. It was another 3/4 length back to 13-1 Say the Word third.
Left: Synchrony in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "I'm very fortunate to ride the horse. I think he shows some class in the race. I think I had a lot of trouble on the backside, early in the race and I kind of switched him up a little bit. I was able to ride with a lot of patience and I think I rode the best horse in the race. I wanted to show he improved today and he really did it. You know (the E.P. Taylor course) is a wide turn and a long stretch and you have all the opportunity for the best horse to win the race."
Right: Synchrony exits the winner's circle. Winning owner Josephine Abercrombie said, "It's one of the most exciting things I think you could possibly look at. I just love it."
Kicking off the stakes action was the listed $100,000 Charlie Barley Stakes featuring a field of 7 three-year-olds going 1 mile on the turf. Marine Stakes (G3) winner Global Access was sent off as the 6-5 favorite over 3-1 The Black Album, 6th in the Penn Mile (G2), and 9-2 Mo Speed, who was pulled up in the LeComte (G3) after his saddle slipped.
Jesse Campbell sent 9-1 Inventing Blame to the lead through fractions of 23.98, 46.90, and 1:10.60 while pressed by Mo Speed and stalked by 58-1 True Dat. Inventing Blame continued to lead midstretch through 7f in 1:22.13 but The Black Album, 4th early under Flavien Prat, came out for room and rallied to win by a head in 1:31.01. It was another 1/2 length back to favorite Global Access third.
Left: The Black Album in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Flavien Prat said, "We drew a good hole (3), so from that draw we were able to get a good trip and I think the blinkers helped him quite a bit today. I wasn't sure (if he won the photo finish)."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Global Access returns after the race. The Mike Trombetta trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 1 second, and 3 thirds in 9 starts, earning $182,742 for owner-breeder Live Oak Plantation.
A field of 8 Ontario-bred older fillies and mares contested the listed $100,000 Zadracarta Stakes at 7 furlongs on the turf. Allowance winner Desert Isle was sent off as the 3-1 favorite over 7-2 Silent Sonet, 5th in the Hendrie (G3), and 4-1 Red Cabernet, 4th in the Nassau (G2).
Jockey Javier Castellano sent 15-1 China Rider to the lead through fractions of 23.17 and 45.58 while pressed by Silent Sonet and stalked by 5-1 Zestina. Turning for home China Rider tired allowing Silent Sonet to gain the lead through 3/4 in 1:09.03, but she would tire out at the 1/16 pole. Desert Isle, 4th early under Junior Alvarado, came out 4 wide for roon and outfinished late-closing 21-1 Miss Sea by 3/4 length in 1:21.28. It was another 3/4 length back to Zestina third.
Left: Desert Isle heads to the winner's circle with owner Rick Balaz of Sam-Son Farm on the right. Winning trainer Graham Motion said, "She is a filly we've always thought really highly of and maybe it took us a little while to figure her out. She is a filly you can't take too much of a hold of and I think Junior did a beautiful job. We love coming to Woodbine. It's a beautiful turf course and it it's a tremendous facility and we like to win stakes here."
Right: Second place finisher Miss Sea returns after the race. The Mike Keogh trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 4 seconds, and 5 thirds in 22 starts, earning $237,628 for owner Kevin Pasher.
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