The 162th edition of North America’s most historic race, the Queen’s Plate, took place at Woodbine Racetrack yesterday. Fans being able to return back to the grandstand was something to cheer about. Even at 50% capacity at which tickets were sold-out with safety guidelines in place, the energy was electric still with reduced fanfare like activations, concerts and pop-ups.
The $1-million race was taken by SAFE CONDUCT, a New York-based son of Bodemeister who held-on gamely to the wire under U.S. jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., to win by a head. The 1 1/4 mile affair was run in a quick 2:02.8, the Phillip Serpe trainee owned by WellSpring Stable paying $8.00 to win on a $2.00 bet as the race favourite. Mitchell Kursner bred the colt and was present for the festivities with his family.
Prior to the race, the Jockey Class of ’21 posed together for a group shot!
Bettors wagered a whopping $16.1 million on the Queen’s Plate Sunday card, up from last year’s $14.5 million. The boost in popularity Woodbine has seen amidst the pandemic has continued with a spiked interest from U.S bettors who turned to the Toronto oval, while other tracks had closed.
In addition to action-packed racing, some notable names visited yesterday including Canada’s most decorated Olympian of all time, Penny Oleksiak, a vision in pink. Canadian Music Hall of Fame and Walk of Fame inductee Jim Cuddy graced us with his presence, performing with his Trio on the track apron, while Universal Music Canada emerging artist Ryland James performed the national anthem. Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Elisabeth Dowdeswell arrived at the event by carriage, in a manner fit for the queen that she is!
So amazing Oleksiak shared our Snaps with her followers as well, a class act!
Several enticing stakes races lined the race card as well, giving the betting public some exciting options to wager.
The $350k Grade I Highlander would go to Stronach Stables’ SILENT POET. The hard-knocking six-year-old notched the biggest score of his career under regular pilot Justin Stein. Frank Stronach and his team at Adena Springs North also were present for celebrations. Trainer Nick Gonzalez received several congratulations from other horses’ connections, and he gestured to the sky in thanks at his late wife Martha who had passed last year.
The $175k Grade II Dance Smartly Stakes was taken by Christophe Clement trainee MUTAMAKINA, under jockey Dylan Davis. The formerly French-based mare by top sire Nathaniel, has found success in North America by way of the New York circuit.
The $150k Grade III Ontario Colleen Stakes took place earlier on the card with OUR FLASH DRIVE making it a perfect three-for-three in 2021 for Team Mark Casse and Live Oak Plantation. Patrick Husbands was aboard the score.
Was very excited seeing 79-1 shot MAMBOINTHEFOREST take his leg of the Turf Endurance Series under Sahin Civaci for Trainer Ron Sadler and Owner Phillip Lanning. You might recall this is the horse whom won me my Sovereign Award earlier this year for Outstanding Photograph! He won for me and that’s my story! Still waiting for the chance to visit him on the backstretch one day to give him some mints!
An awesome tidbit is that Stronach Stables’ RIPTIDE ROCK ran a hard-fought second in the Queen’s Plate. I remember joking when I took this Selfie with him and his mom Irish Influence – just a couple days old – that he’d one day be a Queen’s Plate winner… and we never would’ve guessed he’d almost do it!
It may have been the 158th running of the Queen’s Plate but believe me, it never gets old! While #Canada150 and long weekend were very much on people’s minds this past weekend, that didn’t stop a huge crowd from filling up the Woodbine Racetrack grandstand trackside all the way up to the fourth floor. Known as the longest-running annual horse race in North America, the race now featured in a two-day long Festival is a huge annual draw deep in history and culture. Headlining the two days of concerts this year were Canada’s Our Lady Peace on the Saturday and Goo Goo Dolls on the Sunday. Fun fact: did you known OLP frontman Raine Maida is Sovereign Award-winning Trainer Barb Minshall‘s nephew? We didn’t know that until recently when that came-up in a conversation. Cool, right?
We had the pleasure of being Woodbine‘s first ever Facebook LiveQueen’s Plate Co-Host along with our new friend Jen Kirsch, influencer and relationship writer, checking-in on the fun and fashion with guests from the Hats & Horseshoes Party, presented by Stella Artois. We loved the eclectic range of outfits, many patriotic and #Canada150-themed and many nodding another era.
Cast members of The Real Housewives of Toronto, fashion icon Jeanne Beker, Goo Goo Dolls, hosts of CTV’s The Social and Rachael Ancheril of Rookie Blue were in attendance. We’re pretty sure you’ve seen the fashion spots on Woodbine‘s website leading-up to the Queen’s Plate right? Those were actually directed by the latter.
Frank Stronach and his Adena Springs team have been a major force now for many years in the sport and this was the case in the day’s marquee race, the $1-million Queen’s Plate taken in dominant fashion by his superfilly Holy Helena. Ridden by Luis Contreras and trained by U.S.-based James Jerkens, she won the race as the post-time favourite and we hear that she is being pointed to the prestigious Alabama Stakes at Saratoga where she will face the top three-year-old fillies in North America. She just may make one more start in Canada to qualify for a Sovereign Award as she has made just two starts in her native country in a brief but v. illustrious career!
Watch the race:
Other major winners Queen’s Plate Festival weekend included Russell Brand character namesake Aldous Snow (Singspiel Stakes), Financial Recovery (Ontario Damsel Stakes), Melmich (Dominion Day Stakes), Green Mask (Highlander Stakes), Yorkton (Charlie Barley Stakes), Go Bro (King Edward Stakes) and a rare dead-heat between Rainha da Bateria and Starship Jubilee (Dance Smartly Stakes).
See our Snaps:
Jen Kirsch + I
Holy Helena, her groom Denzil + Frank Stronach
Queen’s Plate heroine Holy Helena + I
A Holy Helena cupcake (courtesy of Hayley Morrison)
The adorable Contreras Family (family of Queen’s Plate-winning jockey Luis)
Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell + Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson
Rainha da Bateria + Starship Jubilee, your Dance Smartly Stakes victresses
Catherine Day Phillips (and family), winning Trainer of Ontario Damsel Stakes victress Financial Recovery
Yorkton, winner of the Charlie Barley Stakes
Woodbine‘s Dawn Lupul
Aldous Snow, winner of the Singspiel Stakes… a third time!
Green Mask, winner of the Highlander Stakes
Melmich, winner of the Dominion Day Handicap. His co-owner Cory Hoffman (front right) is the father of fellow Film Writer Matt Hoffman.
Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida
We loved meeting our VIP Paddock Party winners Maria + Brett (fourth down). Some Queen’s Plate Fashion 👒🎩:
Woodbine Handicapper Jim Bannon and former Woodbine announcer Dan Loiselle. Legends.
The official Queen’s Plate cocktail, the Blue Diamond 💎
Full House 🏠
The rain would not prevail!
While we were pretty much everywhere on Queen’s Plate Day, we loved seeing the faces of friends, new and old. If you couldn’t make it out this year, we hope to see you at the races this season as it goes till December! Beginning Friday nights in July, Woodbine will host a patio party called the Grandstand Social on the third floor at Champions.
All I Do is Win ✔
Everyone needs a selfie with the soon-to-be-iconic “ALL I DO IS WIN” neon sign which will be there!
Fascinators! Fashion! Fast Horses! Fabulaaaas!Woodbine Racetrack was the place to be yesterday for the 156th running of North America’s most historic Horse Race, the Queen’s Plate. If there were any doubt of a sharp resurgence in the popularity of the Sport, record betting handles were reported yesterday with a total $11.06 million bet, smashing 2009’s $9.7 million record. Attribute it to new icon AMERICAN PHAROAH and his U.S. Triple Crown feat, or a smart advertising strategy – either way, Horse Racing is back.
SHAMAN GHOST would go-on to win the $1-million race restricted to three-year-old horses born in Canada, with a total twelve males and one female entrant. The handsome Frank Stronach-owned colt by the stallion Ghostzapper (also owned by Stronach) would sweep on by the competition late to win by 1 1/4 lengths under U.S. jockey Rafael Hernandez, paying $8.60 to a $2 bet. Race Favourite DANISH DYNAMFORMER almost looked like he was going to win the race under Patrick Husbands – who won the race with LEXIE LOU last year – but simply was outfinished. CONQUEST BOOGALOO who was thought widely to be a second-tier colt from the barn of champion trainer Mark Casse, rose to the occasion to finish third after a horrific start to the race which saw him shut-out. His two more high profile stablemates DANZIG MOON and CONQUEST CURLINATE were thought to be top contenders before suffering unfortunate fates, the former being euthanized tragically and the latter being retired after a brief but promising career.
Earlier on the 13-race Card, we saw promising two-year-old BELIVEAU win under Patrick Husbands for trainer Mark Casse and owners Windways Farm & Partners in the $150k Clarendon Stakes. Champion mare STRUT THE COURSE did exactly as her name suggests before a packed grandstand in the $200k Grade II Dance Smartly Stakes, under Luis Contreras for Owner John Unger and trainer Barb Minshall. The speedy GO BLUE OR GO HOME would win the $200k Highlander Stakes a second time (he won it in 2013) for Owners Jim & Susan Hill and trainer Reade Baker, with now-Woodbine-based jockey Alan Garcia. ALDOUS SNOW, named after Russell Brand‘s memorable character in Get Him to the Greek, would defend his title successfully in the $150k Singspiel Stakes for iconic Canadian outfit Sam-Son Farm, trainer Malcolm Pierce and jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva.
From a fashion standpoint, we definitely saw men and women bringing their Fashion A-Game to the table, thanks to the high-profile presence of CTV‘s The Social, which had a tent set-up by the Hats & Horseshoes Party by Woodbine‘s scenic Walking Ring. Ladies put thought into their looks with a rainbow of Fascinators, while men are embracing tailoring and more form-fitting cuts. Hosts Cynthia Loyst, Lainey Lui, Traci Melchor and Melissa Grelo heightened the fun and prestige as several high-profile entertainment industry-types were seen taking-in the atmosphere. Rethink Breast Cancer also had a great presence with a tent set-up, hosting several influencial fashion-types, with ticket proceeds going towards research and awareness.
See the Race:
Enough typing, let’s do some gawking!
With the stunning Bri Mott of Fashion at the Races: