The oldest continually run stakes race run in North American will occur at Woodbine on Saturday when 14 sophomores will go postward in the 161st edition of the C$1 million Queen’s Plate. Run at 1 1/4 miles on the synthetic surface, the classic contest attracted a fine field and promises to be a thrilling event.
Trainer Kevin Attard has been one of the top conditioners in Canada for more than a decade, but he has yet to secure a win in the nation’s biggest race. That could all change on Saturday when he sends out a pair of live contenders.
Morning-line choice #12 Clayton (2-1) is once-beaten and comes off a measured tally in the Plate Trial S. on the course. Bodemeister colt has shown great versatility in winning at distancs from 5 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, and he will be difficult to upend if he moves forward off of his latest venture.
Second from the Attard shedrow is my top pick, the Paynter filly #2 Merveilleux (10-1). The $150,000 juvenile purchase has come close in her previous four black-type affairs and seems poised for a breakthrough on Saturday. A close runner-up in both the Ontario Lassie S. and Princess Elizabeth S. at two, the bay was equipped with blinkers last time out and ran an impressive third in the Woodbine Oaks despite a poor break and encountering traffic in early stretch.
Merveilleux has put in a pair of solid morning drills in the interim led by a bullet half-mile move in her most recent work. The Ontario-bred has a trio of route races under her belt to be dead fit for the Queen’s Plate, and she also has the versatility in her running style to sit a good trip under Kimura. I expect the filly to rate a few lengths off the early tempo while saving ground, prior to moving into contention turning for home.
- $20 Win and Place: #2 Merveilleux ($40)
- $10 Exacta: Box 2-12 ($20)
- $1 Trifecta: 2 with all with 12 ($12)