Sunday, May 13, 2012

Strait of Dover cruises in Marine

TORONTO, May 12 - Canyon Farm's Strait of Dover cemented his status as a top contender for the Queen's Plate (June 24) with an emphatic victory in Saturday's $156,300 Marine Stakes, at Woodbine.

The English Channel-Bahrain Star colt, with Justin Stein up, pressed the early pace of front-running Incredicat who set moderate fractions of :25.01, :48.95, 1:12.20 in the mile and a sixteenth main track event.

Strait of Dover advanced through the far turn and took command by two and a lengths at the top of the stretch, surging through the wire an impressive six and a half length winner. Classic Bryce closed for second, three-quarters of a length in front of Holiday Promise. Strait of Dover covered a mile and a sixteenth in 1:43.44.

Stein, who won three races on the card, was impressed with his colt's race day demeanour.

“He’s a really nice horse,” said Stein. “He’s got a ton of confidence. He loves being out here, and he loves his job. He wants to destroy everything in sight."

Strait of Dover has crossed the wire first in all four of his Polytrack efforts at Woodbine (he was placed third in his local debut by disqualification) since shipping to Toronto from Hastings Park, in Vancouver.

"He’s learning," offered Stein regarding Strait of Dover's improving form. "Everything we’ve asked him to do, he does. Today was a big test, and he passed with flying colors.”

Trainer Dan Vella is hopeful that the victory, the colt's first attempt at two turns, will be a valuable learning experience as he prepares the dark bay for the Queen's Plate.

"With him sitting that close, I knew he had to be doing it quite easy," said Vella. "We talked about settling him, and trying to get him off the bridle, because we want to go a mile and a quarter. Obviously, he did that. It was very exciting the whole way.”

Strait of Dover, listed at 20-1 in the Queen's Plate Winterbook, will now be amongst the favourites for the Queen's Plate, which will be held on Sunday, June 24.

He returned $13, $7.50 and $4.30, combining with Classic Bryce ($11.90, $5.90) for a $126.10 exactor. Holiday Promise ($3) rounded out a triactor worth $320.20.

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