With Flavien Prat aboard, the 3-year-old son of Twirling Candy set quarter-mile fractions of :24.42, :49.52, 1:14.18, and 1:37.83, then turned back a challenge from Avie’s Flatter in the stretch en route to a 3 1/2-length victory.
The $1 million Queen’s Plate, the 1 1/4-mile race which is the opening leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, was the first Canadian starter for California-based trainer Richard Baltas, who conditions One Bad Boy for Sayjay Racing, Greg Hall, and Brooke Hubbard.
“It was awesome, very awesome,” Hall said. “We were a little worried about his ability to run the mile and a quarter, but you saw that ... he started pulling away, so we’re very excited about that.”
Brooke Hubbard, a bloodstock agent who also acts as Sajay’s racing manager, also rejoiced in One Bad Boy’s finest hour to date.
“It was hard to say anything up there or to even look,” Hubbard said. “But the last [part], we were all so excited.”
Racing with blinkers off, One Bad Boy became the 11th horse to lead throughout in the Queen’s Plate in its modern history and the first since Midnight Aria in 2013. His final time for 1 1/4 miles was 2:02.98 on the all-weather Tapeta Footing surface.
Prat, winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby when Country House was elevated to first place, became the first jockey to win both the Kentucky Derby and Queen’s Plate since Kent Desormeaux completed the feat in 1998 with Derby winner Real Quiet and Plate victor Archers Bay. Bill Hartack also achieved the Derby-Plate double with Northern Dancer back in 1964.
The complexion of the Queen’s Plate was altered at the outset when Skywire, the 2-1 post-time favorite starting from post 10, did not get away alertly and then was hampered badly by an inward-breaking Tone Broke. The stewards posted the inquiry sign to review the incident, but following brief deliberations, left the result unchanged.
Avie’s Flatter, Canada’s champion two-year-old male of 2018, worked out a good trip after beginning from the outside post in the 14-horse field and raced second behind One Bad Boy throughout.
“[Avie’s Flatter] was next to me, so I knew he was the horse to beat,” said Prat, who rode his second stakes winner of the day after capturing the $100,000 Charlie Barley Stakes with The Black Album. “By the eighth-pole, I asked [One Bad Boy] to reengage and he drove away,” Pratt continued. “So from that point, I thought I was going to win.”
“Second-best today,” said Javier Castellano, rider of runner-up Avie’s Flatter. “Not much to say. Kept tracking the winner right there all the way on the lead. He never stopped and he never came back to me. I was in perfect position in the race, the race was slow and I was right next to him [One Bad Boy] but I couldn’t get by.”
Tone Broke, racing on a synthetic surface for the first time, regrouped following his unfortunate beginning and loomed a threat around the final turn but failed to seriously threaten the top pair in finishing third, 3 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up.
Bred in Ontario by Ron Clarkson, One Bad Boy came off a second-place finish in the Alcatraz Stakes at one mile on the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate Fields.
The $400,00 Prince of Wales Stakes, a 1 3/16-mile race over Fort Erie’s dirt oval, is the next race in the tri-surface OLG Canadian Triple Crown series, which concludes with the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on the E.P. Taylor turf course.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is sponsoring a new $500,000 bonus for a series sweep. Wando, in 2003, was the last horse to sweep the series and the seventh since its exception in 1959.
Improving Wet Your Whistle Strikes in Highlander
The 4-year-old Stroll gelding added a top-level score in the six-furlong turf sprint to build a four-race win streak for trainer Michael Trombetta that dates to a Dec. 16 allowance victory at Woodbine.
Wet Your Whistle, who earned his first graded stakes win in the Highlander, also won an April 25 allowance-optional claimer at Laurel Park and took the May 19 Get Serious Stakes at Monmouth Park last out.
Trombetta said he saw Wet Your Whistle move to another level after the Dec. 16 allowance score at Woodbine.
“We always thought he could do some good things, but that was the turning point for him,” the trainer said. “He just learned to settle himself down just enough; he’s a high-strung individual.”—Claire Crosby
Holy Helena Prevails in Dance Smartly
Two years after winning the Queen’s Plate Stakes, Stronach Stables’ homebred Holy Helena returned to Woodbine June 29 to capture the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes over seven other fillies and mares in the 1 1/4-mile grass test. The 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper was third in the Dance Smartly a year ago, but Saturday she used a closer trip to get up in time on the Queen’s Plate undercard.
Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Holy Helena made her debut in the spring of her 3-year-old season. In only her third start, she captured the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser and scored in the Queen’s Plate one start later. Both races were run on the Tapeta track and helped her achieve the Sovereign Award for champion 3-year-old filly.
Holy Helena did not race on turf until her first start at 4, and she has raced almost exclusively on the grass since then, winning three graded stakes before adding her fourth in the Dance Smartly.— Christine Oser
Synchrony Scores in King Edward
Four months after the Michael Stidham trainee debuted his 2019 season with a 1 1/4-length score in the Feb. 16 Fair Grounds Handicap at Fair Grounds, he made a triumphant return to the winner’s circle on the Queen’s Plate undercard.
“It’s one of the most exciting things I think you could possibly look at,” Josephine Abercrombie of Pin Oak said of Saturday’s win. “I just love it.”—Meredith Daugherty