Thursday, March 08, 2012

Top filly Dixie Strike named Queen’s Plate Winterbook choice

TORONTO, March 8 - Filly Dixie Strike, trained by champion conditioner Mark Casse and owned by John Oxley, was today installed as the 4-1 favourite for the 153rd edition of the Queen's Plate, following in the footsteps of her half-sister, 2011 Queen's Plate heroine, Inglorious.

Last year, Inglorious, who also captured the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, rallied impressively through the stretch to earn the winner's share of the $1 million purse. The Josie Carroll trainee was also a 4-1 favourite in the Winterbook.

Inglorious, out of the Sovereign Award-nominated broodmare Noble Strike, became the first filly to win the Queen's Plate since Dancethruthedawn in 2001, and just the sixth filly to win the race since 1956.

It is a rare occurrence when a filly has the credentials to stand out from her male rivals months before the Plate, when the Winterbook is crafted. Prior to Inglorious, the last filly to sport the favourite's role was La Prevoyante in 1973.

The 2012 edition of the race is set for Sunday, June 24 at Woodbine. The race will air on CBC in HD.

Dixie Strike showed immediate promise as a two-year-old, giving Casse the confidence to start her in an added-money event in her first career start, the six and a half furlong Muskoka Stakes on September 5. Despite breaking slowly, the bay filly finished strongly, defeated just three-quarters of a length by the more seasoned Rose and Shine.

The daughter of Dixie Union returned a month later to break her maiden when ridden out in a two-turn maiden allowance event on October 9. Bred by Arosa Farms, Dixie Strike finished a strong second to Rose and Shine in the $250,000 Princess Elizabeth Stakes on October 29, but would turn the tables on her rival in December, taking the $150,000 Ontario Lassie Stakes by five and a half lengths with Rose and Shine a distant second.

Dixie Strike, purchased for $45,000 at the 2010 Canadian-Bred Yearling Sale in Toronto, separated herself from her fellow contenders with a well-timed run to win the $105,000 Florida Oaks in her 2012 debut. Patiently ridden by Jose Lezcano, Dixie Strike settled in fifth position in the early stages of the mile and a sixteenth turf tilt, and gunned down More Than Love with a four-wide run, earning a 77 Beyer Speed Figure in the process.

"We knew last fall, after the Princess Elizabeth, that she was special. Patrick (jockey Husbands) was always quite high on her as well," offered Casse, in search of his first Plate score. "I remember him working her one day and I asked him if she was as good as some other horse and he said, 'They don't breathe the same air.'"

The Winterbook's second-choice is Menlo Castle (9-2).

The Ralph Biamonte trainee, owned by Conor Healy, enjoyed an ultra-consistent juvenile campaign boasting a record of 2-3-1 in 7 starts and purse earnings of $270,811. The dark bay son of Forest Danger-Romantic Tryst, who broke his maiden through disqualification in August, impressed next out in the Simcoe Stakes when a runaway seven and three-quarter length winner. Menlo Castle has been preparing for the 2012 campaign at Crupi's New Castle Farm in Ocala, Florida, where he recently posted a four-furlong breeze in :50-flat on March 5.

Fillies, who enjoyed a strong year in racing, internationally, in 2011, round out the next two slots on the theoretical odds list.

Hard Not to Like (6-1), a Sovereign finalist in the two-year-old filly category, broke her maiden at first asking and beat the boys twice, including a four and three-quarter length romp in the Cup & Saucer Stakes, en route to a strong fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf for trainer Gail Cox.

The other filly among the favourites is Northern Passion (8-1), also trained by Casse, won the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine, before a seventh-place run in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, and most recently was a closing fourth in the Florida Oaks to stablemate Dixie Strike.

Aldous Snow (10-1), a son of Theatrical-Brave Destiny, has a win and was fourth in the sharply run Coronation Futurity last fall for trainer Malcolm Pierce. Sam-Son Farm's bay colt has been training well with the rest of the Pierce string at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans this winter.

The rest of the Top 10 has Campitello and Run in Aruba, tied for sixth at 12-1, and a trio at 15-1, Golden Ridge, Incredicat and Perfect Tay.

The 88th edition of the Winterbook, which was compiled by the Daily Racing Form's Bill Tallon and Ron Gierkink, offers early odds on all 117 three-year-olds, 98 colts, geldings and ridglings, as well as 19 fillies, nominated to the 2012 Canadian Triple Crown.

Maritimer, a Canadian-bred finalist for a Sovereign Award in the two-year-old colt and gelding category, was not nominated to the race. For horses not named to the event, a supplemental nomination is available to make them eligible to the mile and a quarter classic on May 1 or at time of final entry.

Racing fans can also participate in the Plate chase by playing the 12th annual Queen's Plate Fantasy Challenge at The contest, which launches in the spring, is free, with prizes available to be won.

Fans can join in on the discussion leading up to the Queen's Plate on Twitter by using the official event hashtag of #QP2012 and following @WoodbineRacing.

A recap of the Top 10 and the entire list of Queen's Plate nominees and their Winterbook odds follows.

Top 10 in the Winterbook

Dixie Strike (f) 4-1
Menlo Castle 9-2
Hard Not to Like (f) 6-1
Northern Passion (f) 8-1
Aldous Snow 10-1
Campitello 12-1
Run in Aruba 12-1
Golden Ridge 15-1
Incredicat 15-1
Perfect Tay 15-1

Queen's Plate nominees (117)

Aldous Snow 10-1
Ardara (f) 200-1
Ascania 200-1
Awesome Overture 60-1
Bandito Giuliano 200-1
Battleship Skip 200-1
Big Creek 40-1
Big Kick 100-1
Black Bird Rock (f) 75-1
Brave Sky 200-1
Bright Holiday 200-1
Buongiorno Johnny 40-1
Campitello 12-1
Canadian Flag 30-1
Canadian Navy 30-1
Cant Catch Wynston 100-1
Cape Race 40-1
Cash for Life 200-1
Chautauqua Creek (f) 75-1
Classic Bryce 25-1
Classy Al 50-1
Colleen's Sailor 30-1
Creative Thunder 200-1
Crowns Dynasty 60-1
Danger Bay 75-1
Dead On 40-1
Dene Court (f) 50-1
Designator 200-1
Dixie Strike (f) 4-1
Dragon Tail 125-1
Drago's Best 20-1
Dramatist 75-1
Fathom's End 125-1
Feisty Albert 125-1
Genes Northernstar 150-1
Golden Ridge 15-1
Good Answer 150-1
Hallam 200-1
Hampstead Heath OUT
Hard Not to Like (f) 6-1
Henry's Dew 75-1
Incentivize 150-1
Incredicat 15-1
Irish Donnie 200-1
Irish Mission (f) 75-1
Jomelo 50-1
Judy the Beauty (f) 75-1
Jultagi 200-1
King of England 25-1
Laertes 25-1
Lemon Secretary (f) 125-1
Locally Made 75-1
Logan Street 100-1
Making Amends 20-1
Marimba Man 125-1
Marked in Stone 75-1
Menlo Castle 9-2
Molinaro Fort Heal 125-1
Molinaro Kiss (f) 200-1
Moose Vasko 200-1
Mr. Dancin Man 200-1
Mr. William 60-1
My Bonnie Boy 150-1
Nashindy (f) 200-1
No Look Pass 125-1
Noble Chief 50-1
Northern Passion (f) 8-1
Onetwopunch 75-1
Pegu 50-1
Perfect Tay 15-1
Perfect Timber 200-1
Perfect Wildcat (f) 200-1
Perspective 100-1
Peyton 40-1
Pietermaritzburg 200-1
Pirate Prince 100-1
Prince Raphael 25-1
Proud Canadian 150-1
Quaesitor 60-1
Rahfees Fairy (f) 200-1
Rainbow's Best 200-1
Readyforthequeen (f) 75-1
Real Awesome 100-1
River Rush 60-1
Rocky Romano 30-1
Roseville 150-1
Ruling Silence 200-1
Run in Aruba 12-1
San Cristo 30-1
Seen It All Before 30-1
Shakespeare's Brew 50-1
Sherbourne 100-1
Slant of Light (f) 200-1
Soda On the Side 60-1
Solidus 200-1
Soul of Bourbon (f) 40-1
Soul of London 100-1
South of Dixie 75-1
South to the Sea 100-1
St. Lawrence Gap 200-1
Stevie Loves Women 200-1
Stormy Revenge 100-1
Strait of Dover 20-1
Styrie 100-1
The Adjudent (f) 100-1
Theatrical Affair 100-1
Timed Perfectly (f) 75-1
Triberious 100-1
Tuxedo Ray 75-1
Twilight Shadow 200-1
Ultimate Destiny 40-1
Unwinding At Work 200-1
Well Played 100-1
Where's Johnson 40-1
Wilcox 75-1
Woody G 50-1
Yes It's Showtime 100-1

(f): denotes filly

*for horses already nominated, a sustaining payment of $1,500 must be made by May 1 to be kept eligible for the race

*for horses not currently nominated, a $5,000 late nomination payment can be made by May 1 to be eligible for the race

*for horses not nominated before May 1, a $25,000 ($15,000 + $10,000 entry fee) supplemental payment can be made at time of final entry to be eligible for the race

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