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Thoroughbred race horse Owner since 2000. Avid horseracing fan since early childhood.


Triple Crown Chase begins its third season. I would like to thank everyone out there for their support during the first two years and for their encouragement to continue in 2012. This blog was established to provide some personal insight about the horses and trainers who will compete against one another in the 3 yr old prep races leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Our coverage extends and follows the Preakness and Belmont.

As the calendar begins its countdown to the first Saturday in May, the early minor preps will lead to the later major preps, the distances will lengthen, the purse values will rise, and the athletic competetivness of these equines throughout the road will be fierce. I'll try to preview as many races as I can. From time to time on the busy Triple Crown road, I will call on guest handicappers Jen Jade and Chris Sorenson to provide their analysis of selected prep races. The well known horses will be discussed as well as the horses lurking under the radar. I'll provide my ranking list, and update it as we go along when necessary. I hope you have fun again following along. Your comments are always welcomed and encouraged. With that, let the chase begin.

Friday, July 13, 2012


A large prize for the taking sits at this end of the Queen Elizabeth highway awaiting the winning thoroughbred horse of the 77th Prince Of Wales Stakes, the second jewel of Canada's Triple Crown, which will take place on Sunday at Fort Erie Racetrack. The $500,000 purse will surely be the biggest for a number of owners of the nine starters in the 1 3/16 mile event and their chances vastly improved when the connections of Queen's Plate winner, Straight Of Dover, decided to bypass the classic race. The decision to keep Straight Of Dover out of the running is hardly suprising. He has a non-affinity to run well over dirt tracks, which is the surface at Fort Erie. The 3 year-old has thrived on Woodbine's polytrack since being shipped from Hastings Park, the site of his first two dirt starts, which were disasterous. Instead, the Plate winner will be pointed to the August 5th one-mile and one-half turf Breeders' Stakes, the third and final event in the Candian Triple Crown. His absence means there won't be a Canadian Triple Crown winner this year. 2012 marks the second consecutive year the Queen's Plate winner did not particiapte in the middle leg. Last year's Plate winner, Inglorius, also skipped the Prince Of Wales in favor of the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga. Wando was the last horse to accomplish the Triple Crown feat in 2003.

The Prince Of Wales Stakes was inaugurated in 1929, and has been hosted annually at Fort Erie Racetrack since 1959. The 2012 edition will be the final running of the race at the 115 year-old facility which is scheduled to close December 31st. The decision to close Fort Erie came after Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced he was axing a slot machine revenue-sharing program with provincial racetracks.

Four fillies have won this showcase centerpiece, and headlining the $500,000 race this year are two female runners: Queen's Plate runner-up and Woodbine Oaks winner, Irish Mission, and Plate third-place finisher, Dixie Strike. The Prince Of Wales Stakes will mark the third straight race the two fillies have faced each other. The last female to successfully capture this event was Gandria (1999).

Eight of the nine runners will be racing over conventional dirt for the first time in their careers.

Let's have a look at the field from the rail out:

$500,000 PRINCE OF WALES STAKES 1 3/16 Miles


1-CLASSIC BRYCE/Kabel/Banach--After winning his maiden in just his second lifetime start, this guy has been in stakes company for 5 straight starts, including a pair of runner-up placings in the Wando and Marine Stakes. In the latter affair, he was runner-up behind Straight of Dover. Received a good tracking position behind that same rival in the Queen's Plate, but failed to drive on and finished a disappointing eighth. Is the only horse in the line-up to have worked over the Fort Erie surface, putting in a very sharp 5 furlong breeze clocked in 1:01 on Monday.

2-ULTIMATE DESTINY/Bahen/Keogh--Following a 4th pace debut last fall, this colt was first or second in 5 consecutive starts, before a recent fifth place finish in the Plate, where he was beaten over ten lengths, ended his in-the-money streak. His final tune-up was Monday across the Woodbine dirt training track where he breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00 4/5. Interesting stat: Trainer Keogh wins at an incredible 45% with horses switching from synthetic to dirt.

3-DEAD ON/Wilson/Pierce-- Sam-Son farm homebred has a single maiden win to his credit, and that came last fall. Most recently, he disappointed in a pair of Queen's Plate prep races, the Queenston and Plate Trial. The lone entrant in the race that has actually raced on dirt, registering a runner-up placing in a tough allowance optional claimer at Fairgrounds back in March. May enjoy getting his feet back on the surface as he has been off-the-board in all three stakes attempts over polytrack. His 5 furlong breeze over the Woodbine dirt training surface last Sunday was timed in 1:02 1/5

4- DIXIE STRIKE/Husbands/Casse--As a 2-year-old, filly debuted in the Muskoka Stakes where she finished a fine second. Since then she has won 4 races, including a trio of stakes, Ontario Lassie, Florida Oaks and G3 Selene. Was the beaten favorite in the Woodbine Oaks, a race she may not have been at her best. Didn't get the best of journeys in the Plate. Was bothered at the start, jostled in traffic, wide much of the way and up against the speed bias. Despite it all, she ran extremely well to get the show spot. Blinkers were added for the Plate and she retains that equipment here. Has been brought up to the race on morning gallops instead of works. One must always respect the trainer/jockey duo.

5-MENLO CASTLE/Moreno/Biamonte--Won the Simcoe Stakes as a juvenile, but since then, has not visted the winner's circle in six subsequent starts which included a pair of second place finishes in the Coronation Futurity and Display Stakes to close out his 2 yr old season, as well as a third place finish in the Woodstock Stakes to open up his sophomore campaign. His juvenile performances made this colt a promising Plate prospect, but he faltered on the prep road leading up to the marquee race and was kept out. Breezed an easy 5 furlongs over the Woodbine dirt training surface 1:02 3/5.

6-IRISH MISSION/Solis/Frostad--Extemely talented and a big filly (17 hands). Took seven tries to break her maiden, but she finally got it done on the lawn at Keeneland. Since then she won the Woodbine Oaks, defeating race favorite and nemesis Dixie Strike in the process. Most recently she ran a bang up second and came close to winning the Queen's Plate. Off that performance, she was made the morning line P.O.W. favorite. Was prepared with a 5 furlong breeze in 1:00 over the Woodbine dirt training surface last Sunday. Here is an interesting stat: Trainer Frostad is winless in 16 attempts when switching a horse from poly to the dirt.

7-RUN IN ARUBA/Bridgmohan/Biamonte--In his final start as a 2 year-old, he won the Kingarvie Stakes, but like his stablemate in post 5, he is winless since. With three runs this year, all sprints, he has finished far back in each. Gets to stretch out for the first time in 2012 and receives his ninth new rider in ten races. Another one who has breezed over the Woodbine dirt training surface, where he recorded 5 furlongs in 1:02 3/5.

8-QUAESITOR/Callaghan/Howard--An early season illness has limited this 3-year-old gelding to just a single start in 2012, a maiden win by a nose going 1 1/16 miles at Woodbine June 30th. Showed a bit of promise in his three starts at 2, sandwiching second and fifth-place finishes in 1 1/16-mile maiden races around a decent sixth in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity. Was supplemented to this race for $12,500 and has been galloping to get ready.

9-COLLEEN'S SAILOR/Nakatani/Attfield-- Does have a pair of victories, a maiden and a first level allowance, but has been off the board in three stakes attempts, including his latest try in the Plate. In that affair however, he challenged early before settling in nicely behind the eventual winner. When the stretch drive came, this one put forth his very best and ended up finishing fourth, but he may not have been ready for such a difficult assignment. He should certainly improve from that solid effort and go better here.

Much like the Queen's Plate pace scenario, this affair also appears paceless with no dedicated need-to-lead type runners. It may be a wise choice for one of the entrants with some early foot to go for the front as the surface at Fort Erie has been extremely kind to speed in routes races this year. Looking over the pp's, I feel that honor will fall too Colleen's Sailor. Why? There is no Straight Of Dover to chase, plus his recent sparkling workout following on the heels of his Plate performance, along with a nice post draw outside the others may indicate Nakatani will have his mount shooting to the front as they past the stands the first time. Menlo Castle and filly Irish Mission can be in the thick of it early, but that pair will most likely track the early leader. Classic Bryce from the rail will probably be hustled out and up to secure good position. The rest will sort themselves out as they go into the first turn. Look for the other filly, Dixie Strike, to be placed towards the back of the field. Just like the Plate three weeks ago, the fractions of course will be the key. Unless one or more of his rivals step out of their comfort zone style of running and force Colleen's Sailor into a speed dual, the Roger Attfield trainee should have things pretty comfortable on the front-end. I don't expect any challenges to begin to develop until the field goes into the far turn. At that point, look for the pressers and late closers to rev up their engines. Unless I see strong evidence early in the card that the track surface is favoring off-the-pace runners or deep closers, I believe Colleen's Sailor will take this group much further than most think, and will give his trainer victory number six in this prestigious race.

Both fillies are quite capable of winning this event. Irish Mission will be in the first flight and certainly will have first crack at overtaking the front-runner and could very well get the job done if the pace is quick or the track surface on this day is kind to her stalking mode. Dixie Strike ran the better race of the two girls in the Plate, and she should have a smoother go of it here in a less crowded field. She's a closer that will be running late. If the fractions are lightning quick or the track favors her sustained style, she may end up in the winner's circle.

There are a number of horses you can toss in if your playing the superfecta. I'll add Classic Bryce to round out my four. I like the fact that his trainer shipped him down early to get acclimated to his surroundings and gave him a work over the very surface that he will race on. And all indications are he should be comfortable with the new footing underneath. I forsee him in a nice stalking position, and the shorter distance may prevent him from fading like he did in the opening leg.

For me, it all comes down to how the pace unfolds and how the track is playing on Sunday. At this point, I'll stand behind my convictions pointed out above in the start of this analysis.

I'll play COLLEEN'S SAILOR to win. I will exacta box him with the two fillies multiple times. Tossing in Classic Bryce in hopes of hitting the superfecta. Good luck and as always, enjoy the race!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Just a couple of couple of weeks ago here in the United States, we concluded our 2012 Triple Crown series, now the time has arrived for my friends and family north of the border to enjoy Canada's great Triple Crown series of horseracing. It all kicks off on Sunday, June 24th, at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario, with the most celebrated race in Canada, the Queen's Plate, which will be run for the 153rd time.

The Queen's Plate is the first jewel in Canada's Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing, and the oldest continuously run stakes race in North America. The other gems in the crown are the Prince Of Wales Stakes (July 15th, at Fort Erie) followed by the Breeders' Stakes (August 5th, at Woodbine). All three races are restricted to 3-year old horses foaled in Canada.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Canadian Triple Crown, the series is unique in that it shares the same distances as its American counterparts, but the three races are contested on three different racing surfaces. 1 1/4 miles on the Woodbine Polytrack, which is made of a combination of crushed limestone and synthetic materials, 1 3/16 miles on Dirt at Fort Erie, then 1 1/2 miles over the Turf back at Woodbine. So for a Canadian 3-year old to win the Triple Crown, the horse not only must win at all 3 classic distances, but be versatile enough to conquer 3 separate types of footing. Only seven horses have won the Canadian Triple Crown since the concept was inaguarated in 1959, the first was NEW PROVIDENCE in 1959, the latest being WANDO in 2003.

The 2012 edition of the historic 10-furlong race drew a well-matched field of 14 Canadian-bred three-year-olds, led by Marine Stakes winner Strait Of Dover, Plate Trial winner River Rush, and two talented fillies, Irish Mission and Dixie Strike. A half-dozen trainers in the race have saddled a combined eighteen Queen's Plate winners, including one Triple Crown winner. Roger Attfield, who holds eight of those victories, tries to add a record ninth Plate with longshot Colleen's Sailor. Conditioner Reade Baker, who still is looking for his first Plate winner, sends out two runners, while Mark Casse, who has won many Sovereign awards as the country's top trainer, counters with a trifecta of runners in search of his first win in the prestigious event. The 2012 Queen's plate has attracted some of the best jockey's from all over North America. Well known jockeys slated to compete are: Ramon Dominquez, Julian Leparoux, Corey Nakatani, and Rajiv Maragh. Let's have a look at the field from the rail out.

$1,000,000 QUEEN'S PLATE 1 1/4 Miles

1-RIVER RUSH/Baker/McAleney--Made his racing debut as 3-year old down at Gulfstream Park where he may not have preferred the lawn, as he was soundly defeated. Shipped up north to Woodbine for start number two and turned in a solid closing runner-up effort over the polytrack. When a maiden race in the condition book failed to fill, trainer Baker entered him in the Plate Trail. A ground saving journey in the affair resulted in a romping 5 1/4-length win. His final time of 1:48 4/5 set a new record for 9 furlongs on the Woodbine Polytrack. The victory established the colt as one of the favorites for the Queen's Plate. Should receive another good trip from this inside draw. Breezed 1:01 4/5 for his preparation.

2-PEYTON/Doyle/Leparoux--A winner of just two (Maiden, Nw1x) of nine career starts. Has finished unplaced in both of his stakes attempts. Most recently, he was fifth in the Plate Trial three weeks ago. Breezed 6 furlongs in 1:15 1/5 on the polytrack. Is named after the quarterback (Manning) that has won the NFL's biggest game. Question is, can this horse win Canada's biggest race?

3-MACHO WHISKEY/Baker/Wilson--Didn't start as a juvenile, so his experience has been limited to just a trio of races. Debuted in the slop at Gulfstream Park back in April, and after a slow break that saw him far behind the others, he came running late and was beaten just a neck. Graduated next time out over the Woodbine poly with an impressive 2-length win going 6 furlongs. In his initial run around two-turns, he finished last of five in a 3-year old first-level allowance in his last start back on May 27th. Recorded a pair of 5 furlong moves (:59 4/5 and 1:00 4/5) seven days apart getting ready.

4-STRAIT OF DOVER/Vella/Stein--Colt has crossed the wire first in all four of his Polytrack efforts at Woodbine (he was placed third in his local debut by disqualification) since shipping to Toronto from Hastings Park, in Vancouver. His official three race win streak includes a maiden special weight race at second asking, an allowance race at seven furlongs, and the hat-trick race was the Marine Stakes at 1 1/16 miles where he solidified his status as a top contender for the Queen's Plate with an emphatic 6 1/4-length victory. That race should prove a valuable learning experience as it was the colt's first attempt at two turns. Forced to miss the June 3 Plate Trial Stakes because of sickness, the colt has trained well leading up to the big race most recently with a 5 furlong clocking in 1:00 2/5.

5-CLASSIC BRYCE/Banach/Kabel--Broke his maiden at second asking, then was introduced to stakes company with an eighth place finish in the Coronation Stakes last fall, which capped off his juvenile season. He began his 3-year old year with back-to-back second place finishes in the Wando and Marine Stakes respectively. His most recent prep for the Queen's Plate was a third place finish in the Plate Trial Stakes. He also breezed a 5 furlong move, going in 1:01 1/5.

6-WILCOX/Carroll/Pizzaro--Another unraced 2-year old. Has seen action just twice, both at 1 1/16 miles. Won his maiden impressively by 2 over the lawn here last month after finishing eighth over the Polytrack four weeks earlier in his debut. Worked extremely well showing a recent 7 furlong drill in 1:28.

7-GOLDEN RIDGE/Casse/Contreras--Yet another unraced juvenile. Didn't commence his 3-year old campaign until early March. Since then, colt has made three starts, all at 1 1/16 miles, at three different tracks over two different surfaces, with ascending results of third, second and first. His first two outings saw him lose by a combined three-quarters of a length. Has experience in large fields as all three of his runs have featured an eleven horse lineup. Recorded a strong 5 furlong work in :59 2/5

8-ULTIMATE DESTINY/Keogh/Bahen--Has never finished lower than fourth in six career outings. Comes into the $1-million classic off a smart second-place performance at 1 1/16 miles on May 23, earning a career-best speed figure. In fact, the colt has increased his figures on five consecutive occasions. Trainer campaigned Wando to victories in the 2003 Queen's Plate, Prince of Wales and Breeders' Stakes, sweeping the Triple Crown in impressive fashion. Keough also conditioned the Plate winner (Woodcarver) back in 1999. Has worked three times in the interim.

9-COLLEEN'S SAILOR/Attfield/Nakatani--His juvenile season came under the tutelage of trainer Brian Lynch where he won one race from four starts. Didn't appear in current trainer's barn until the middle of March. Attfield looks for Plate win number 9 with this horse whose first run as a sophomore came against older allowance horses where he finished a respectable third. Returning to face his own age group at 9 furlongs in latest outing resulted in a narrow victory. Was given a trio of works since last outing, including a pair of 6 furlong breezes. Most recently breezed 4 furlongs in :48 seconds. John Velazquez was originally named to ride this horse, but he broke his collarbone in a spill during a race at Churchill Downs last Saturday night. Corey Nakatani, who guided the colt to his win last time out, will get the return call.

10-DIXIE STRIKE/Casse/Husbands--Is one of three Plate contenders trained by Casse, and one of two fillies competing. Eight of her nine career starts have been in stakes races where she has won or placed in five of them, including the Grade 3 Selene Stakes in May at Woodbine. She finished fifth in a disappointing performance in the Woodbine Oaks as the betting favorite. Is a half sister to Inglorious, last year's Queen's Plate winner. Breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00 4/5 for her preparation. Trainer seeks his first win in the country’s most famed horse race. Will wear blinkers for the first time.

11-MAKING AMENDS/Casse/Rosa da Silva--Won the Clarendon Stakes in his career debut last July, but since then, he has lost nine in a row. His best finish during the winless streak was the Queenston Stakes two starts back where he was narrowly defeated by a head. Most recent outing three weeks ago saw him finish a far back sixth in the Plate Trial. Colt has had four two-turn opportunities and has failed to crack the top three each time. Received his final breeze over the polytrack in 1:02 1/5.

12-BIG CREEK/Pletcher/Dominguez--This well-traveled competitor has raced at six different racetracks for his seven career starts since debuting at Belmont Park last summer. In his two races over the local poly strip, colt finished third in the Wando and fourth in the Plate Trial. In the latter affair he raced with "blinkers on" which kept his interest in the 9 furlong event. Very strange that he has not had a published work in the 3 weeks leading up to the Plate.

13-WASHINGTON DASH/Miller/Maragh--Maiden travels to Toronto from Churchill Downs to contest the Queen's Plate. Checked in with a career-best third place finish in his last start, a one-mile maiden special race run over the turf at Arlington Park two weeks ago. Prior to that, colt finished fourth going 9 furlongs on turf at Churchill Downs in May. No published works since last start. Trainer Miller hits at a high percentage (20%) with his shippers. Is attemping to become the first maiden to win the Plate since Scatter the Gold in 2000.

14-IRISH MISSION/Frostad/Solis--This gal punched her ticket to the Queen's Plate by winning the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks on June 3rd. She stepped up to win the aforementioned race after having broken her maiden going 1 3/16 miles over the Keeneland turf back in April. Scorched a bullet 5 furlongs in :59 4/5 over the dirt training track last Sunday.

The best of the early speed will come from STRAIT OF DOVER, BIG CREEK and IRISH MISSION, although, it is interesting to note that none of trio are "need to lead" type runners. STRAIT OF DOVER is the only one of the aformentioned three that has won once going wire-to-wire. Add in ULTIMATE DESTINY, who has a little bit of early quickness, and that gives us the front flight. The rest of the pack will sort themselves out in behind.

The make-up of the race in regards to running styles appears to favor the early runners. Pressers and closers can certainly win this race, but they'll need a faster pace to set the race up for their late run. However, I just don't anticipate a searing pace. I'm looking at STRAIT OF DOVER to be the leader by the second call. With an expected honest, yet confortable pace, as well as strong final fraction figures, that should allow the Vella trained runner the best chance to hold off the late runners.

STRAIGHT OF DOVER--Is unbeaten this year and his latest wide-margin win in the open company Marine Stakes suggests he will be even better at this longer trip. Sire English Channel was a mulitple winner over longer distances, therefore, a mile-and-one quarter shouldn’t be a limitation.
RIVER RUSH--Set a track record for nine furlongs on Polytrack capturing the Plate Trial with a rail skimming journey. Was hand ridden without ever being asked. Drawing the 1 hole here certainly is not kiss of death for him in this race. Expect this son of Orientate to be held up for much of the way before he's given his cue too try to run down the leaders.
DIXIE STRIKE--Selene winner disappointed in a slowly-run Woodbine Oaks last time when odds on, but overlook that run. She is in receipt of 5lbs here with blinkers also on for the first time, and should go much better. Even though fillies have been successful in winning the Plate, it’s a tall order to improve enough to beat out the likes of top two listed above.


BIG CREEK--Expecting a big race from this son of Indian Charlie as he tries to improve off a 4th place finish in Plate Trial. He’s also raced against some notable rivals along the way, including Street Life who finished fourth behind Union Rags in the Belmont Stakes. Pletcher, who won this event in 1998 (Archer's Bay), would not ship to Canada unless he felt he had a golden chance. The early pace may help him hold for a piece.
GOLDEN RIDGE--Steps up to the big time after coming off impressive maiden breaking win where he beat older runners. Is getting better with each start and has a ton of upside. Despite the class rise, this colt returns to face his own age group. The breeding plus speed figures offer this son of Distorted Humor a solid chance. Bullet work inspires confidence, and he closes like the wind. Look for this one to be running late under Contreras, who won the Plate last year.

Good luck, and as always, enjoy this fabulous race!!