Queen’s Plate: Casse barn loaded
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Mark Casse looks to have a strong contingent heading toward the 159th running of the $1 million Queen’s Plate for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds on June 30 at Woodbine. Casse has four horses nominated to the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, including the top two horses on the first Daily Racing FormQueen’s Plate Watch list of 2018, Telekinesis and Wonder Gadot.
Casse also has Neepawa and Kentucky Derby 13th-place finisher Flameaway nominated to the Queen’s Plate. However, Flameaway will instead be pointed to the Grade 3, $500,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown on June 23, Casse said.
Even without Flameaway, Casse trains three of the top four horses on the Queen’s Plate watch list and will be looking to win his second Queen’s Plate. Neepawa is ranked fourth on that list and will run in an allowance race against three other Queen’s Plate nominees Sunday at Woodbine.
Wonder Gadot will be pointed to the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/8 miles on Tapeta on June 9. She figures to be a heavy favorite following her runner-up finish to Monomoy Girl in the Kentucky Oaks on May 4 at Churchill Downs. She earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure in that start.
“Of course, we’re so proud of Wonder Gadot,” Casse said.
While Wonder Gadot and Neepawa are more experienced than stablemate Telekinesis, the son of Ghostzapper may have the most talent of the three. He’s made just three starts but has recorded a 90 Beyer twice. Most recently, Telekinesis ran second to My Boy Jack in his stakes debut at Keeneland in the Grade 3 Lexington on April 14.
Casse said the connections thought about running Telekinesis in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico but instead will target the $125,000 Plate Trial on June 9 at Woodbine.
“The plan is to keep him in Lexington and bring him up there in about 10 days,” Casse said.
The Plate Trial will be the first time Telekinesis has raced on Woodbine’s synthetic surface.
“Telekinesis is an extremely talented horse,” Casse said. “I would think that he could handle pretty well everything. You never know until you try, but that’s one of the reasons why we want to get him in the Plate Trial.”
Progeny of Ghostzapper have had recent success in the Queen’s Plate, with wins by Holy Helena last year and Shaman Ghost in 2015.
With the Grade 3 Marine Stakes in the books, the Woodbine Oaks and Plate Trial will serve as the final local stakes preps for the Queen’s Plate. But a number of contenders could come out of allowance races over the next few weeks.
One such race is Sunday’s sixth race at Woodbine, a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles featuring Neepawa. The other Queen’s Plate nominees in the field are Cooler Mike, ranked eighth on the watch list, Pipers Warrior, and It’s Fate.
There also is a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up over 1 1/16 miles May 27 and a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds over 1 1/8 miles on June 9, both on the Tapeta main track.
Horses based in the United States also may ship into Woodbine for the Queen’s Plate, including Alternative Route, who is targeting the Grade 3, $100,000 Arlington Classic on turf May 26 at Arlington Park.