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!