By Emily Shields
The $1 million Queen’s Plate is the highlight of the Saturday, September 12 card at Woodbine Racetrack outside Toronto. The first jewel of the Triple Crown, run over 1 ¼-miles on the synthetic main track, drew a field of 14 with Clayton and Curlin’s Voyage topping the field.
Three-year-old filly Curlin’s Voyage is coming off a win in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks. The daughter of Curlin is trained by Josie Carroll, and has won five of nine starts. Last year she won the Grade 3 Mazarine via disqualification en route to being the Sovereign Award Champion Two Year Old Filly of 2019. This year, Curlin’s Voyage was second in her return sprinting when she needed a route of ground, but since then she has flourished.
Her biggest challenge will come from Clayton. Trainer Kevin Attard is trying to win his first Queen’s Plate with this son of Bodemeister, who took the Plate Trial last out and has won three of four. Clayton will have Rafael Hernandez aboard but after running greenly last out will have to show his improvement against a big field.
Third behind Curlin’s Voyage in the Woodbine Oaks was Attard’s other runner, Merveilleux. The daughter of Paynter has been top three in six of seven tries on this surface, and had traffic trouble in the lane last out. She was a good allowance winner here in June and was only a head behind Curlin’s Voyage as a juvenile.
Popular Holyfield, who is missing part of his ear, broke his maiden on the grass last out in his sixth lifetime race. Catherine Day-Phillips trains the son of Uncle Mo, who has raced against several of these before including Olliemyboy, Mighty Heart, and Belichick.
Belichick is still a maiden and seeks to become the first maiden to win the Queen’s Plate since Scatter the Gold in 2000.
Halo Again offers the most value at 5-1. The son of Speightstown, who trains out of Saratoga, is a $600,000 purchase from the Steve Asmussen barn. Last year, Asmussen finished third in the Plate with Tone Broke, who went on to take the other two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown. Halo Again was second, beaten just a half-length, in the Plate Trial, after winning the Queenston in July.
Third in the Plate Trial was Dotted Line, who is 8-1 morning line. The son of Signature Red was graded stakes placed already this year, and a two-time stakes winner as a juvenile last fall. He will bid to give Sid Attard his first Plate victory.
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