Eyeing an Upset Candidate in Woodstock Stakes at Woodbine

Horses race in the 2021 Queen’s Plate at Woodbine. (Michael Burns/Woodbine photo)

The path to the Queen’s Plate, the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, gets underway Sunday at Woodbine with an intriguing cast of 3-year-olds entered for the $125,000 Woodstock Stakes.

The Woodstock was first held in 1885 and has been run at multiple distances over the years, but the race has been a three-quarter-mile sprint since 1998 and serves as a key early prep race for the Aug. 21 Queen’s Plate.

This year’s edition drew a field of nine featuring a speedy, solid pair from the barn of Larry Rivelli.

One Timer (#2), the 2-1 morning-line favorite for Rivelli, has not raced since fading late in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint last November at Del Mar, where he was in contention in deep stretch and finished two lengths behind winner Twilight Gleaming. Prior to that he had won the Victoria Stakes on the main track at Woodbine by 3 ¾ lengths and a turf stakes at Santa Anita Park. The Trappe Shot colt looks like the class of the field and ticks an important box for me when handicapping races on the synthetic Tapeta track with a win on the surface.

Stablemate Nobals (#1), the 3-1 second choice on the morning line, has posted a pair of stakes wins on the Tapeta Footings surface at Turfway Park this year for Rivelli. Most recently, he led from start to finish to win the Animal Kingdom Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths April 2 at Turfway.

To me One Timer looks like the more talented horse from Rivelli’s pair but the extended layoff is a concern.

Silent Runner (Michael Burns/Woodbine)

Ironstone (#4) and Unraptured (#3) figured to be well supported as well. The former is cutting back in distance after finishing second in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Grey Stakes last November at Woodbine, while the latter won a one-mile allowance-optional claiming race March 19 at Golden Gate Fields and will be making his first start for Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield.

Any of the four Woodstock entrants mentioned above could win the race, but I’m always on the lookout for a nice price and one longshot really caught my eye: #9 Silent Runner.

Silent Runner has two wins and two seconds in four starts on the synthetic surface at Woodbine and he’s been working well for his first start of the year for trainer Michael Doyle. He closed his 2-year-old campaign with a three-quarter-length score from just off the pace in the 6 ½-furlong Frost King Stakes on this main track, so he’s a proven stakes winner on the surface.

There is quite a bit of pace in the race, so Silent Runner should be able use his tactical speed to tuck in just behind the front-runners from his outside post and make his bid near the top of the stretch. At 15-1 odds on the morning-line, he looks like terrific value in the Woodstock.

Wagering Strategy on a $10 Budget

$10 to win on #9 ($10)

What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, 7th race, $10 to win on 9

Wagering Strategy on a $30 Budget

$20 to win on #9 ($20)

What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, 7th race, $20 to win on 9

$5 Exacta Box: 2,9 ($10)

What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, 7th race, $5 exacta box 2,9

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!