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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

Can the Barber-Casse Preakness Team Earn a Queen’s Plate Repeat?

Love the Queen’s Plate, always have, and so do a lot of horseman. The mile and a quarter over the synthetic surface usually draws a very large field because the date is circled on the calendar of elite owners and horsemen every year. Provincialism notwithstanding, it’s the Kentucky Derby of Canada.

And even those of us south of the Canadian border know, anytime three-year-old horses get together going 10 furlongs anything can happen. Saturday’s early line favorite has drawn the extreme outside of 14.

We’ll see if Javier Castellano can take advantage of the long run into the first turn with 5-2 Avie’s Flatter. Winner of a state-bred mile and an eighth at 2, he shipped south in the fall and won Keeneland’s G3 grassy Transylvania, but remained 2-for-2 on Woodbine’s Tapeta surface.

We’re compelled to try beating Avie’s Flatter with the horse that has a good chance to be the post time favorite, Mark Casse trainee Skywire (4-1). Our other win prospect would be an upsetter, Neil Howard’s filly Desert Ride (8-1).

Skywire’s tactical stalking style and pace dynamics suit the dynamics and Gary Barber’s colt should gain good early position from post 10. Perennial leading rider Eurico Da Silva takes a return call after finishing third in the G3 Marine, Woodbine’s traditional Plate prep. Skywire has excellent spacing and a string of brilliant works since the Marine.

Desert Ride is a home-bred from Canadian powerhouse Sam-Son Farm, which has won the Plate five times since 1988. After winning two of three on turf to begin her career, Desert Ride shipped back home to win the Woodbine Oaks at nine furlongs, her synth debut, and hot-riding Bahen takes a return call. She gets a 5-pound weight allowance from the boys.

Clearly, Skywire is the most probable of the two, but the filly offers excellent value at anywhere close to her 8-1 early line. This is one of those situations where one can prudently bet one, save with the other, and box the exacta. That’s our current thinking.

Fillies have won three of the last five runnings of the Queen’s Plate and an upset here would be a third straight win for the “weaker” sex. The winning Preakness Team is looking for their third Plate victory each, seeking a repeat having taken last year’s renewal with Wonder Gadot.

We’re also considering using both as superfecta keys with three others; sharp Californian One Bad Boy (7-2, Baltas,Prat), the “other Casse” with Jamie Spencer (Federal Law, 15-1), and Avie’s Flatter. The 20-Cent key costs $9.60. Post time is scheduled for 5:36 pm. Looking forward…

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