The 2017 version of The Queen’s Plate will take place this Sunday at Canada’s Woodbine Racetrack. The race is for Canadian foaled 3yr olds, run at the classic distance of 10 furlongs for a purse of $1,000,000 over Woodbine’s tapeta/all-weather surface. The Queen’s plate is the longest running race in North America and is the first jewel of Canada’s triple crown.
With a full field of 13, lets get straight to the handicapping. There are not a ton of two turn main track races at Woodbine. Route races are being won at a 13% clip with most horses coming from more than 3.5 lengths back at the first call.
I expect a modest pace from this field. The only need-the-lead type is #7, State of Honor, who has had the first call lead in 6 of his last 10, including the Kentucky Derby. State of Honor faded back to 19th in the derby and is a mere 1 for 12 lifetime. I want to toss him but last week’s Ohio Derby trifecta was 3 Ky. Derby also-rans so he will be included in my gimmicks.
The highest last race Brisnet speed figure belongs to #1, Channel Maker. Trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Rafael Hernandez, Channel Maker made his all-weather debut in his last where he finished a nice 2nd in the G3 Marine Stakes here at Woodbine. This trip was wide and Channel Maker covered more ground than anyone else in the race while coming from 6th, 8 lengths back in the early going. Channel Maker is the 4/1 morning line 2nd choice.
The other horse that caught my interest is the #11, Aurora Way, who broke his maiden here at Woodbine on June 10th. Julien Leparoux ships in for the mount which was previously held by Rafael Hernandez, who notably is aboard Channel Maker. Aurora Way’s maiden victory came with a nice first out speed figure and was a race where he covered more ground than all horses but one and was still able to draw off easily by 4 lengths. With a 6/1 morning line, there could be value here.
The morning line favorite is the #3, Holy Helena. Perennial local leading jockey Luis Contreras gets the mount for this James Jerkens trainee who is 2 for 3 lifetime and 1 for 1 at Woodbine. Holy Helena is deserving of her morning line favoritism as she is coming off of a non-graded stake win in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks and a very impressive maiden win at Belmont. That Belmont race was a real eye opener as she battled on a wicked pace and held off all comers for a ¾ length win. She will be taking on the boys for the first time in the Queen’s Plate.
In this race, I will make the case for the two horses where I see the most value, Channel Maker and Aurora Way. Making a choice between the two is a recipe for disaster so I will use them both by boxing them in an exacta.