The 149th edition of the Plate, the oldest continuously run stakes race in North America, will be televised live on CBC-TV (as well as on CBC's digital channel, bold and webstreamed at http://www.cbcsports.ca) from 4:30 - 5:30 pm ET. Post time will be 5:06 pm. It's the first time since 1998 that CBC-TV has televised the Plate and, for the first time ever, the telecast will be in High Definition.
Hockey Night in Canada's Don Cherry was the guest drawmaster when the post position draw took place Thursday morning in the east-end VIP Tent at Woodbine. Once again, the selection order for post positions was drawn first, via the traditional 'pill-pull', followed by the choosing of post positions by the connections for each horse, a system which has been in place for the Queen's Plate since 1998.
Not Bourbon (PP13, 3-1), a Fipke homebred by Not Impossible and trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield, is trying to become the first Trial winner since Alydeed in 1992 to also win the Plate.
Attfield, who, with the 12th selection, chose post 13 for the Plate favourite, will be seeking a record-tying eighth Plate win, a mark held by Harry Giddings Jr. since 1942. Attfield's seven Plate winners are Norcliffe (1976), Market Control (1987), With Approval (1989), Izvestia (1990), Alydeed (1992), Peteski (1993) and Regal Discovery (1995).
The chestnut colt, never worse than fourth in nine career starts, showed his gameness by hanging on in the Plate Trial, his third stakes win, edging Solitaire by a neck while getting the mile and one-eighth contest in 1:49.73, the fastest time for the race since it was changed to its current distance in 1980. Jono Jones, seeking his first Plate win (he was runner-up in 2004 with favoured A Bit O'Gold), has ridden Not Bourbon, a career earner of $361,160, in every start.
"In a perfect world, we probably would have taken right in the middle of the field," said Attfield. "I'm happy with the 13-hole. I'm not superstitious. I think it will be fine, the way he runs. It gets him time to sort it out and see what's going on inside of him."
"I was happy with his Trial. He carried the weight. He did it well. He had to probably move a bit earlier than we needed to because we did think that grey horse (odds-on Harlem Rocker) might be coming at that point in time."
Stronach Stables' Ginger Brew (PP10, 4-1), a dominating six-length winner of the Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, on June 8, will try to become just the 34th filly since 1860 to claim the 'Gallop for the Guineas' but the first since 2001, when Sam-Son Farm's Dancethruthedawn completed the Oaks-Plate double for trainer Mark Frostad and jockey Gary Boulanger. With a victory, Ginger Brew, the third choice at 4-1, would also become only the fifth filly since 1956 to capture both the Oaks and Plate.
Trained by Brian Lynch and ridden by Javier Castellano, the homebred daughter of Milwaukee Brew is the field's leading money winner with $498,295 and comes into the Plate on a three-race win streak. Prior to the Woodbine Oaks, the chestnut filly had taken the turf Calder Oaks at Calder Race Course on April 26. She's being supplemented to the Plate at a cost of $25,000, including the $10,000 entry fee.
Owner-breeder Frank Stronach will be seeking a third Plate win, after victories by homebreds Awesome Again in 1997 and Basqueian in 1994.
Stronach and Lynch have another homebred Plate entrant in Jungle Brew (PP11, 8-1), a son of Milwaukee Brew, who has been second in his two career starts. The bay colt, to be ridden for the first time by New York's leading rider, Eibar Coa, will be trying to become the first maiden since Scatter The Gold in 2000 (and before him, Golden Choice in 1986) to win the Plate.
Another highly-regarded maiden, also with just two starts, is Solitaire (PP12, 7-2), trained by James (Jim) Bond for owner William Clifton Jr. A $250,000 Keeneland yearling purchase, the gelded son of 1998 Belmont Stakes winner Victory Gallop will be trying to become the eighth Plate Trial runner-up since 1980 to win the Plate, but first since Niigon in 2004.
The 7-2 second choice will be handled by veteran Robert Landry, who also was aboard Niigon for his first Plate win. Solitaire, whose post was selected 10th by Bond, may have tipped his hand in the Plate Trial, closing from well back to just miss against Not Bourbon and now gets another eighth of a mile to come up aces.
"We wanted to be outside rather than inside," said Bond. "We just hope he improves (from his second-place finish in the Plate Trial). He's doing real well. He has to get another furlong, but he has the pedigree. He's trained real well for the race and we just hope the racing gods are on our side."
If either Jungle Brew or Solitaire wins, he would join Awesome Again as the only horses in the Triple Crown era (since 1959) to win the Plate in just his third career start.
Sebastian's Song (PP14, 12-1), owned by Centennial Farms (Niagara), finished third in the Plate Trial, three and three-quarter lengths behind Not Bourbon, after taking a brief leading turning for home. Trained by Alec Fehr, the bay son of Cherokee Run will be ridden by David Clark, who has won the Queen's Plate twice, in 1981 with Fiddle Dancer Boy and in 1985 aboard La Lorgnette.
Trainer Mark Casse, a consecutive two-time Sovereign Award winner as Canada's top conditioner (2006 and 2007), will send out Melnyk Racing Stable's Palmers, a homebred son of Grand Slam and Earle Mack's Took the Time, a gelded son of Greenwood Lake, as he seeks his first Plate win.
Palmers (PP7, 15-1), a one-time winner in eight starts, will be ridden by Patrick Husbands, who won the 2003 Queen's Plate aboard champion Wando, en route to a Canadian Triple Crown, while owner Eugene Melnyk co-owned 1998 Plate winner Archers Bay, along with R. Bristow Farm.
The lightly-raced Took the Time (PP15, 15-1), a winner once in just three career outings, will be piloted for the first time by Ramon Dominguez, one of the leading riders in North America. Owner Mack campaigned 1993 Plate and Triple Crown champion Peteski, along with Plate runners-up Bruce's Mill (1994) and Cryptocloser (1997), the latter which he co-owned with Bill Sorokolit Jr.
The Mike DePaulo-trained Deputiformer (PP5, 30-1), winner of last year's turf Cup and Saucer Stakes, will be ridden by Jerry Baird for owner David James.
Sam-Son Farm will be represented by homebred Harvest Home (PP4, 30-1), a maiden son of Smart Strike, who will be ridden by Corey Fraser. Sam-Son has won the Plate four times, with Regal Intention (1988), Dance Smartly (1991), Scatter The Gold (2000) and Dancethruthedawn (2001), while trainer Mark Frostad has three Plate wins...Victory Cooley (1996), Scatter the Gold and Dancethruthedawn.
D. Flutie (PP1, 30-1), a son of Langfuhr but also a maiden after four outings, will try to give his connections a third Plate win. Owner-breeder Gus Schickedanz and trainer Mike Keogh teamed to capture the 1999 Plate with Woodcarver and the 2003 edition with Wando, while jockey Emile Ramsammy won with Victor Cooley in 1996 and with Edenwold in 2006.
Heather Takahashi's homebred Shadowless (PP9, 20-1), trained by David Bell, will be ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson, who became the first female jockey to win the Queen's Plate, doing so with Mike Fox last year. She'll be trying to become the first rider since Craig Perret in 1992 (Alydeed) and 1993 (Peteski) to win consecutive Plates.
Mike Kowalski's Mamma's Knight (PP8, 50-1) is a two-time winner in eight starts for trainer Sam DiPasquale and will be ridden for the first time by Justin Stein.
East End Tap (PP3, 30-1), a son of Pleasant Tap who has won once in six starts, will try to give owner Sheik Yobuti Racing Stable (Ed Lipton), trainer Reade Baker and jockey Tyler Pizarro their first Plate win.
Another maiden, Silver Jag (PP6, 30-1), a son of 2001 US Horse of the Year Point Given, is winless in four starts for owner-breeder Earl Daynes. To be ridden by Slade Callaghan, Silver Jag, whose connections chose first and selected post six, is trained by Josie Carroll, who became the first female conditioner to win the Plate, scoring in 2006 with Edenwold.
Completing the field is Winter Road Racing Corporation's Dylan's Choice (PP2, 50-1), a one-time winner trained by Desmond Maynard and ridden by Chantal Sutherland.
The Queen's Plate is the first leg in the Canadian Triple Crown. The second leg is the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, at one and three-sixteenths miles on July 13 at Fort Erie, while the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, at one mile and one-half on the grass, August 3 at Woodbine, comprises the third and final leg. There have been seven Triple Crown winners since the concept was inaugurated in 1959, the last being Wando in 2003.
Since 1956, the stakes record for the 10 furlong Plate is 2:01 4/5, set by Izvestia in 1990, when he also won by the largest margin, 13 lengths. The longest-priced winner is T J's Lucky Moon ($166) in 2002.
Favourites have done well in the Plate since 1956, winning 21 of 52 renewals (40%), well above the traditional 33% for mutuel favourites in all races. However, Wando, in 2003, is the only favourite to win in the last 13 editions.
For complete race information, visit http://www.queensplate.com. First race post time is 12:25 pm. The Grade 3, $200,000 Scotts Highlander Stakes, at six furlongs on the turf, will also be contested on Plate day.