The $1 million Queen’s Plate is the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown and draws some of the best 3-year-olds born in Canada for a 1 ¼-mile test of class and stamina at Woodbine.
Held on the all-weather Tapeta Footings surface, the 2021 Queen’s Plate drew a talented field of 13 racehorses.
The Queen’s Plate holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously run horse race in North America, being held every year since its inception in 1860. Thirty-seven fillies have won the Queen’s Plate, most recently Wonder Gadot in 2018. Munnyfor Ro will attempt to become the 38th on Sunday. Twelve 3-year-olds are recognized officially as Canadian Triple Crown winners. The Canadian Triple Crown continues with the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales Stakes Sept. 14 at Fort Erie and concludes with the Breeders’ Stakes, a 1 ½-mile turf race Oct. 3 at Woodbine.
Let’s take a closer look at this year’s Queen’s Plate entrants:
1. Safe Conduct (5-1 morning-line odds): This Bodemeister colt ships up from Saratoga and makes his first start on a synthetic track in the Queen’s Plate after running eighth in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes in his most recent race. He’s won twice on grass, gets leading North American jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., and has tactical speed.
2. Harlan Estate (12-1): After starting his career on the grass in Southern California, he was transferred to trainer Kevin Attard in Canada and has a win and a second in two starts on the synthetic main track at Woodbine. Enters off a win in a 1 1/8-mile allowance-optional claiming race July 16 so he has an upset chance in his third race of the year.
3. Haddassah (10-1): One of four starters for Kevin Attard, this Air Force Blue gelding set the pace in the Grade 3 Marine Stakes July 11 going 1 1/16 miles on the main track at Woodbine and faded late to finish third. Hard to envision the extra three-sixteenths of a mile helping his cause.
4. Take a Chance (20-1): Showed improvement when stretching out from a pair of sprints to a 1 1/16-mile maiden race in his third start, leading from start to finish on this main track. Taking a significant jump up in terms of quality of competition here and would need to improve significantly to be a win contender.
5. H C Holiday (15-1): Finished third but was elevated to second via disqualification as the favorite in the Plate Trial Stakes in his most recent start. Seems more effective as a deep closer, so a strong pace could boost his chances. He has a chance to finish in the top three at a big price … and, maybe, to earn his first official win in a Canadian classic.
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6. Munnyfor Ro (9-2): The Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser winner might be the fastest horse in the field on paper and will try to become the third filly in the last five years to win the Queen’s Plate. She’s another who prefers to rally from off the pace and would benefit from a solid early tempo. With two wins at 1 1/8 miles, Munnyfor Ro is a serious win candidate, even on three weeks rest since the Aug. 1 Oaks.
7. Riptide Rock (6-1): This Point of Entry gelding has run well in turf and synthetic surface sprints but has been less effective in four tries at one mile or longer on the dirt. Enters off a fast win in a three-quarter-mile sprint on this Tapeta Footings surface. If you believe surface is the key rather than distance, Riptide Rock should be a fair price.
8. Keep Grinding (4-1): Owned by 17-year-old grandson of prominent Canadian trainer and named after Toronto Maple Leafs physical winger Mitch Marner, this Tizway colt rallied gamely for second in the Grade 3 Marine Stakes July going 1 1/16 miles on this main track. He has never run a poor race and boasts competitive speed figures.
9. Go Take Charge (30-1): Has not crossed the finish line first in any of his four starts, but the Will Take Charge gelding did run his best race to date when second by two lengths July 24 in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight race on this main track at Woodbine. Still, if he couldn’t handle non-winners, it’s tough to envision a breakthrough in a Canadian classic. At least the price is right.
JOCKEY: Sahin Civaci; TRAINER: Breeda Hayes
10. Dance Some Mo (12-1): Only previous win came on the grass at Churchill Downs, but it was a fast victory on paper and this Uncle Mo gelding ran a close second to Harlan Estate, beaten by a nose, in his first try on synthetic. From a terrific family responsible for multiple Canadian champions, Dance Some Mo has tactical speed and a good chance to improve off that runner-up finish.
11. Avoman (8-1): Solid morning-line price for the Plate Trial Stakes winner, who showed class when winning the Bull Page Stakes as a 2-year-old and has looked even better at 3 while stretching out around two turns. Could be primed for a career-best race in his third start after a 7 ½-month layoff.
12. Tidal Forces (12-1): Began his career with a pair of wins – his debut at 1 1/8 miles on grass in April and an allowance-optional claiming race on the synthetic main track in June – but disappointed when fading to fifth in the Grade 3 Marine Stakes. He was well-regarded at 3.35-1 in the Marine and, like Dance Some Mo, he’s a well-bred homebred of Sam-Son Farm, a five-time winning owner in the Queen’s Plate.
13. Derzkii (30-1): Unplaced in three starts against stakes competition, but he did run a decent fourth, placed third through disqualification, in the Plate Trial Stakes. With nine career starts and a career-top 83 Equibase Speed Figure, there is not much room for upside. Looking elsewhere for prices to spice up tickets.
JOCKEY: Jason Hoyte; TRAINER: Carlos Grant
THE PICK: Dance Some Mo
LIVE LONGSHOTS: Dance Some Mo and H C Holiday