2020 Queen’s Plate Cheat Sheet

Racing
Curlin’s Voyage (right) takes command at the top of the stretch en route to winning the Woodbine Oaks, a performance that makes her one of the favorites for Saturday’s 161st Queen’s Plate. (Michael Burns/Woodbine Photo)

Saturday’s 161stQueen’s Plate at Woodbine brings together the top Canadian-bred 3-year-olds for what is an annual high point of racing north of the border.

The $1 million Queen’s Plate is the oldest continuously run race in North America and is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, followed by the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie and then the Breeders’ Stakes on turf at Woodbine.

As with many other horse races this year (and many other sporting events overall), the Queen’s Plate was delayed from its usual June date to Sept. 12. The 1 ¼-mile race held on Woodbine’s Tapeta Footings main track drew a field of 14 sophomores, including two fillies, Curlin’s Voyage and Merveilleux.

The Queen’s Plate will be televised in the U.S. on TVG and in Canada on TSN.

In addition, America’s Best Racing will preview the race with two live streaming "Woodbine Live" shows. Hosted by ABR’s Dan Tordjman, the shows will also feature handicapping from Ashley Mailloux  (Friday), Emily Gullikson (both days), J.D. Fox (both days) and Ellis Starr (Saturday). Friday's show can be viewed on ABR’s Facebook Live, Twitter, or YouTube channels at 4 p.m. ET. Saturday's show also airs at 4 p.m. ET and can be viewed on ABR's Facebook Live, Twitter, or YouTube channels.

Read on for more information on all 14 starters in the Queen’s Plate.


Michael Burns/Woodbine Photo

1. Sweepin Hard (50-1)

Jockey: Leo Salles

Trainer: Daniel Vella

Owner: Borders Racing Stable

Career record: 2 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $29,371

Earnings per start: $14,686

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 77

Pedigree: Conquest Curlinate – Gently Spun, by Hard Spun

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Sweepin Hard is a supplemental entry into the Queen’s Plate, coming off an Aug. 16 maiden win in a 1 1/8-mile race on Woodbine’s Tapeta Footings main track. He won that race impressively, rallying through the stretch to score by 1 ½ lengths, but it was only his second career start and he earned a 77 Equibase Speed Figure, which is well below what will be needed to win Saturday’s classic. His pedigree offers some appeal for stretching out to a mile and a quarter as his young sire, Conquest Curlinate, did finish second in three route stakes races and is a son of leading sire Curlin. Sweepin Hard’s dam (mother) is a relative of Canadian champion, Woodbine Oaks winner, and Queen’s Plate runner-up Kimchi. Overall, this gelding will be one of the longest shots on the board in Saturday’s renewal and will be hard pressed to give trainer Daniel Vella his third Queen’s Plate win, following Basqueian in 1994 and Strait of Dover in 2012. Vella has also finished second once and third once in the Queen’s Plate.


Michael Burns/Woodbine Photo

2. Merveilleux (10-1)

Jockey: Kazushi Kimura

Trainer: Kevin Attard

Owners: Al and Bill Ulwelling

Career record: 8 starts – 2 wins – 3 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $184,058

Earnings per start: $23,007

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 96

Pedigree: Paynter – Breech Inlet, by Holy Bull

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Paynter filly has assembled a solid career through eight starts while still awaiting a breakthrough stakes win. She faces a tough challenge trying to achieve that goal in Saturday’s Queen’s Plate but is not without a shot if she can run a career-best race and the top contenders fail to fire. After coming up just short in back-to-back stakes last fall and winter at Woodbine (losing by a neck and a head, the latter to Curlin’s Voyage), Merveilleux won her first start at age 3 in June going 1 1/16 miles on Woodbine’s Tapeta Footings main track and then finished a solid fourth in the Grade 3 Selene Stakes and third in the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser behind Curlin’s Voyage. In the Woodbine Oaks, Merveilleux encountered traffic at the top of the stretch but still ran on gamely to finish a half-length behind the second-place filly. Curlin’s Voyage will deservedly be one of the favorites in Saturday’s classic, and this filly is not too far behind that rival in terms of talent and development. Her pedigree is solid for extending out to a mile and a quarter as well. Trainer Kevin Attard finished second in the 2007 Queen’s Plate with Alezzandro.


3. Belichick (30-1)

Jockey: Slade Callaghan

Trainer: Josie Carroll

Owners: NK Racing and LNJ Foxwoods

Career record: 2 starts – 0 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $23,054

Earnings per start: $11,527

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 89

Pedigree: Lemon Drop Kid – Game, by Montjeu

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Belichick comes into the Queen’s Plate seeking his first career win and has only raced twice. He was favored in both of his starts — the first on grass and his second race on Woodbine’s Tapeta Footings main track — this summer but was no matched for well-regarded Shirl’s Speight in his debut, finishing 10 ¾ lengths behind in third, and then could not seal the deal in his most recent start, leading a 1 1/8-mile race in the stretch but settling for second behind Queen’s Plate foe Olliemyboy. He did improve substantially when stretching out and moving to the main track, and he also has a promising pedigree for classic races – he’s by Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid and out of a dam (mother) who was sired by the late elite European stallion Montjeu. Plus, his full-sister (same sire and dam) Season Ticket won the 1 ¼-mile Wonder Where Stakes on turf. If Belichick can make another leap on Saturday and boost his Equibase Speed Figures another 10 or so points, he’s a solid candidate to grab a minor share and beef up trifecta and/or superfecta tickets, but his win chances are remote. Trainer Josie Carroll won the 2006 Queen’s Plate with Edenwold and the 2011 renewal with Inglorious. Carroll finished second in last year’s running with the filly Avie’s Flatter.


Michael Burns/Woodbine Photo

4. Truebelieve (30-1)

Jockey: Keveh Nicholls

Trainer: Cole Bennett

Owner: Centennial Farms (Niagara)

Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $62,717

Earnings per start: $12,543

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 87

Pedigree: Nephrite – Gentle Words, by Bertrando

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After winning one of three starts as a juvenile in 2019 and finishing a solid second to Dotted Line in a 1 1/16-mile stakes, Truebelieve came back this year in June and won a six-furlong allowance race by a late-closing half-length. In his next start, he changed tactics and dueled for the early lead when stretching out to 1 1/16 miles in another allowance race, and tired badly to lose by 14 lengths to one of the Queen’s Plate favorites, Clayton. Overall, Truebelieve’s top Equibase Speed Figures are around 10-15 points behind those of the leading contenders in Saturday’s race, and both of his career wins have come in sprints. This colt would probably be better served to revert back to his usual stalking/closing running style in the Queen’s Plate and try to pick off a few horses late for a minor award – and then to target shorter races in the future. 


5. Holyfield (30-1)

Jockey: Darryll Holland

Trainer: Catherine Day Phillips

Owners: Kingfield Racing Stable, Roderick Ferguson, and Anderson Farms Ontario

Career record: 6 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $62,314

Earnings per start: $10,386

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 88

Pedigree: Uncle Mo – Nadeshiko, by Honour and Glory

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After going unplaced in two starts as a juvenile, this Uncle Mo gelding has gradually improved since returning to competition in June after a seven-month break. Holyfield finished 10th in that race, but then ran third and fourth in two route rates on Woodbine’s Tapteta Footings main track before breaking his maiden in a 1 1/16-mile turf race on Aug. 22. He stalked the pace in that race and took the lead in midstretch, prevailing by a head in a hard-fought effort. Holyfield will need to take another step forward when returning back to a synthetic surface on Saturday, but he has some appeal in the Queen’s Plate as a trifecta and/or superfecta filler. His pedigree is a good mix of speed and stamina; his dam (mother) won a stakes and earned more than $250,000 in sprints and is a full-sister to Grade 2 winning-sprinter Battle One; and she’s also related to $3 million-earning router and iron horse Imperative. Trainer Catherine Day Phillips has finished second twice in the Queen’s Plate: A Bit O’Gold in 2004 and Mr. Foricos Two U  in 2009.


Michael Burns/Woodbine Photo

6. Halo Again (5-1)

Jockey: Luis Contreras

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owners: Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing

Career record: 6 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $227,190

Earnings per start: $37,865

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 94

Pedigree: Speightstown – Halo’s Verse, by Unbridled’s Song

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After winning both of his starts as a juvenile in 2019, including the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity at Woodbine, Halo Again was placed on the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby by U.S. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. He finished well-beaten eighth in the Lecomte Stakes on dirt at Fair Grounds and then a nonthreatening fourth in the Jeff Ruby Steaks on Turfway Park’s synthetic Polytrack surface, however, and was subsequently brought back to Woodbine, where he’s regained stakes-winning form. Halo Again won the seven-furlong Queenston Stakes by 1 ¼ length on July 4 and then extended back out to 1 1/8 miles for the Plate Trial Stakes and came up a hard-fought half-length short to Clayton on Aug. 15. This son of champion sprinter Speightstown (who’s had success through the years siring routers) has a top-notch pedigree on his dam’s (mother’s) side for the Queen’s Plate. His dam, Halo’s Verse, has also produced $500,000 earner Inflexibility, who set a course record for 1 ¼ miles on Woodbine’s turf in 2017, and Halo Again is also related to U.S. Hall of Famer Ashado through his second dam (maternal grandmother). All of these credentials, plus a good stalking running style, make Halo Again a top win candidate along with Clayton and Curlin’s Voyage in the Queen’s Plate. Asmussen finished third in last year’s race with Tone Broke. Jockey Luis Contreras has two Queen’s Plate wins: Inglorious in 2011 and Holy Helena in 2017. He’s also finished second three times, and third last year on Tone Broke.


Michael Burns/Woodbine Photo

7. Glorious Tribute (30-1)

Jockey: David Moran

Trainer: Barbara Minshall

Owner: Bruce Lunsford

Career record: 9 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $65,380

Earnings per start: $7,264

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 88

Pedigree: Congrats – Clare’s Bernardini, by Action This Day

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Glorious Tribute has had an active racing career leading up to a tough assignment in the Queen’s Plate, having made nine starts at 2 and 3 and competing against some of the top horses in his division. He’s yet to go off at odds less than 10-1 in any of his races and will be a longshot once again, but he does come into the Canadian classic off of arguably his best effort to date, a fourth-place finish behind Clayton in the Aug. 15 Plate Trial Stakes. In that race, he broke poorly but recovered to stalk the pace, and he kept on well through the stretch, losing by 3 ½ lengths at odds of 62.25-1. That’s a lot to make up against Clayton come Saturday, not to mention Curlin’s Voyage and Halo Again, but this gelding has some appeal as a high-odds superfecta filler at the least since he’s already won at going a mile and 70 yards on Woodbine’s main track. Anything more would be a big surprise. Mt. Sassafrass finished third in the 1995 Queen’s Plate and Stephanotis second in 1996 for trainer Barbara Minshall, and David Moran finished third in the 2010 renewal on Roan Inish.


8. Olliemyboy (30-1)

Jockey: Steven Bahen

Trainer: Sid Attard

Owner: JMJ Racing Stables

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $61,003

Earnings per start: $15,251

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 92

Pedigree: Union Rags – Charming Thunder, by Thunder Gulch

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Deep closer Olliemyboy faces a tough assignment in a Queen’s Plate renewal that does not project to have a particularly fast pace. He comes into the race off of a maiden win in his fourth career start, rolling through the stretch of a 1 1/8-mile race on Aug. 1 at Woodbine to score by two lengths. In his start before that, he closed to finish a nonthreatening second to Queen’s Plate rival Mighty Heart in a 1 1/16-mile contest, also on Woodbine’s synthetic track. Olliemyboy started slow in both of those races, and can’t afford to do that again on Saturday, but on the positive side, he’s bred to run all day as a son of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags and out of dam (mother) who is a daughter of Belmont Stakes winner Thunder Gulch and the granddaughter of turf-routing millionaire Tout Charmant. Look for this longshot to appear on the scene very late – as in midstretch – as he passes some tired Queen’s Plate runners with a fourth- (or at the best, third-) place finish in his sights. Trainer Sid Attard finished second in the 1992 Queen’s Plate with Grand Hooley and third twice. Jockey Steven Bahen won the 2002 Queen’s Plate on huge longshot T J’s Lucky Moon and has also finished third twice.


Michael Burns/Woodbine Photo

9. Dotted Line (8-1)

Jockey: Justin Stein

Trainer: Sid Attard

Owner: Norseman Racing Stable

Career record: 8 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $146,331

Earnings per start: $18,291

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 102

Pedigree: Signature Red – Springledge, by Outflanker

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Dotted Line is one of the more accomplished Queen’s Plate starters who has knocked heads with several fellow contenders this year after winning two stakes races at Woodbine during a successful juvenile campaign in 2019. He’s competed in three stakes so far as a 3-year-old, finishing fifth in the July 4 Queenston Stakes won by Halo Again, third in the Grade 3 Marine Stakes won by highly regarded Shirl’s Speight, and most recently a very good third to Clayton in the Plate Trial Stakes on Aug. 15, where he set a contested early pace and battled gamely late to lose by only a half-length. That effort in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial was commendable, but being able to handle an extra furlong in Saturday’s Canadian classic is an open question, especially considering that Dotted Line’s pedigree suggests a mile or 1 1/16 miles is about his stamina limit. Overall, though, this tough gelding is a good candidate to use in Queen’s Plate exacta and trifecta tickets, and he has enough tactical speed to be a factor in the outcome. Jockey Justin Stein won the 2012 Queen’s Plate on Strait of Dover. Trainer Sid Attard finished second in the 1992 Queen’s Plate with Grand Hooley and has finished third twice.


Michael Burns/Woodbine Photo

10. Curlin’s Voyage (5-2)

Jockey: Patrick Husbands

Trainer: Josie Carroll

Owners: Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings and Windsor Boys Racing

Career record: 9 starts – 5 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $499,545

Earnings per start: $55,505

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 99

Pedigree: Curlin – Atlantic Voyage, by Stormy Atlantic

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This filly towers above the rest of the Queen’s Plate field in terms of overall achievements, and should vie with Clayton for favoritism on Saturday when the starting gate springs open. She was voted Canadian champion 2-year-old filly last year at the Sovereign Awards (Canada’s version of the Eclipse Awards) based on a stellar campaign in which she won two stakes races, and the daughter of two-time U.S. Horse of the Year Curlin has kept up her good form at age 3. She enters the Queen’s Plate off of two consecutive stakes wins on Woodine’s Tapeta main track, her most recent being a 1 ¾-length score in the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser. In that 1 1/8-mile race, she cruised into the lead coming out of the far turn and was not challenged late, earning a career-best Equibase Speed Figure. Look for jockey Patrick Husbands to attempt a similar trip in the Queen’s Plate and call on this filly’s proven class and good pedigree (she’s related to several U.S. graded stakes winners on both turf and dirt) when the field hits the homestretch. Curlin’s Voyage has a good chance to become the 38th filly to win Canada’s most prestigious race. Trainer Josie Carroll won the 2006 Queen’s Plate with Edenwold and the 2011 renewal with Inglorious and finished second in last year’s running with the filly Avie’s Flatter. Patrick Husbands, a perennial top rider at Woodbine, has won two Queen’s Plates: 2003 on Wando and 2014 on Lexie Lou.


11. F F Rocket (50-1)

Jockey: Sahin Civaci

Trainer: Al Stall Jr.

Owner: Frank Fletcher Racing Operations

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $18,597

Earnings per start: $4,649

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 72

Pedigree: Curlin – Mekong Delta, by Stormy Atlantic

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: F F Rocket ships up to Woodbine from Presque Isle Downs, where he won a maiden race at one mile and 70 yards on that track’s Tapeta Footings surface. He won by a driving two lengths in his first start on a synthetic surface. In his three starts prior to that, the son of Horse of the Year Curlin finished a well-beaten seventh, seventh, and eighth, all on dirt. He displayed a new running style at Presque Isle, pressing the early pace instead of settling well back as he did in his first three races, and repeating that strategy should work to his benefit on Saturday. This colt is a promising synthetic runner with a solid distance pedigree who may make some noise in stakes races down the road, but F F Rocket would have to boost his Equibase Speed Figures up by 15-20 points to have a chance at upsetting the leading Queen’s Plate contenders.


Michael Burns/Woodbine Photo

12. Clayton (2-1)

Jockey: Rafael Hernandez

Trainer: Kevin Attard

Owners: Donato Lanni and Daniel Plouffe

Career record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $154,215

Earnings per start: $38,554

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 94

Pedigree: Bodemeister – Smarthalf, by Smart Strike

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Clayton is the morning-line favorite for Saturday’s Queen’s Plate as he comes into the race off of two consecutive wins in two-turn races on Woodbine’s Tapeta Footings main track. In his most recent race, he stalked the pace in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial Stakes and finished strongly to win by a half-length at odds of 0.65-1. Overall, he’s won three of four starts on the Tapeta and finished second in his other try. He’s also got one of the best pedigrees in the Queen’s Plate field as a son of Kentucky Derby runner-up Bodemeister (who’s also sired a Kentucky Derby winner) out of a mare by the late great sire Smart Strike. U.S. champion filly Halfbridled is a notable member of his dam Smarthalf’s family. In a Queen’s Plate without much early speed, look for Clayton to be very close to the lead throughout, and he’s already shown enough closing punch to be a big threat in the late going. Trainer Kevin Attard finished second in the 2007 Queen’s Plate with Alezzandro. Jockey Rafael Hernandez won the 2015 renewal aboard Shaman’s Ghost.


13. Mighty Heart (20-1)

Jockey: Daisuke Fukumoto

Trainer: Josie Carroll

Owner: Lawrence Cordes

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $53,220

Earnings per start: $13,305

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 96

Pedigree: Dramedy – Emma’s Bullseye, by City Place

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Lightly-raced Mighty Heart made his first two starts at Fair Grounds earlier this year without distinction – once on dirt and once on turf – but has blossomed since shipping to Woodbine over the summer, winning a 1 1/16-mile maiden race on the Tapeta Footings main track by 4 ¼ lengths (defeating Olliemyboy) and then finishing third by 1 ½ lengths in a 1 1/8-mile allowance-optional claiming race (Tecumseh’s War finished second). He posted a career-best Equibase Speed Figure in that race and appears to be on the right track to compete in stakes races later on in his career, but projects more as a horse to use in exacta and trifecta tickets for the Queen’s Plate at what should be good odds. His pedigree is a bit underwhelming compared with several of his Saturday rivals, as his sire Dramedy is as yet unproven (he did win the 1 ½-mile Elkhorn Stakes on Keeneland’s turf course in 2015). Not without talent, Mighty Heart will have to live up to his name and then some to overtake Josie Carroll’s other entrant Curlin’s Voyage and the other top Queen’s Plate contenders. Carroll won the 2006 Queen’s Plate with Edenwold and the 2011 edition with Inglorious, and she finished second in last year’s running with the filly Avie’s Flatter.


Coady Photography

14. Tecumseh’s War (12-1)

Jockey: Emma-Jayne Wilson

Trainer: Catherine Day Phillips

Owner: Ilium Stables

Career record: 7 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $40,940

Earnings per start: $5,849

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 97

Pedigree: Summer Front – J’s Hot Shot Lady, by Badge of Silver

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Tecumseh’s War is winless since breaking his maiden in his career debut last October at Indiana Grand, but does enter the Queen’s Plate off of a race at Woodbine where he posted his career-best Equibase Speed Figure. He stalked the pace in that 1 1/8-mile allowance race on Aug. 1 and briefly led in the stretch before losing by a half-length (he finished one length ahead of Queen’s Plate foe Mighty Heart, who was third). This son of promising young sire Summer Front has been competitive in several of his starts – his first four on turf, and most recent three at Woodbine on Tapteta – but, despite his name, he has had trouble achieving victory. It’s hard to see Tecumseh’s War winning the Queen’s Plate, but assuming that he can back up his Aug. 1 race, he’s definitely worth using in exotic bets such as the trifecta and superfecta. Jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson won the 2007 Queen’s Plate aboard Mike Fox. Trainer Catherine Day Phillips has finished second twice in the Queen’s Plate: A Bit O’Gold in 2004 and Mr. Foricos Two U  in 2009.

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