About a month after the Republican National Convention nominated Abraham Lincoln for President in May 1860, DON JUAN won the first Queen's Plate race on June 27, 1860. What's now the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown has run, uninterrupted since. It's is the longest-running race in North America.
COVID 19 threatened to put the unbroken string of races to an end when the 2020 version was postponed, but the Canadian Kentucky Derby will keep the streak alive when the corona-delayed race's gates open at approximately 5:41 pm eastern.
Woodbine head clocker and oddsmaker Ernie Perri says CLAYTON (PP: 12 ML 2-1) is the one to beat. He's raced exclusively at the Toronto track with three wins and a second in four starts. The son of BODEMEISTER has won two straight but will be taking his game from a $150,000 non-graded run to the $1 million Queen's Plate.
Although trainer Kevin Attard follows a win with another at 24%, it would be his first Queen's Plate Trophy and an informal twitter poll on Perri's page suggests CURLIN'S VOYAGE (PP: 10 ML 5/2) could be the chalk at post time.
The pedigree of 2007 Preakness and Breeders' Cup Classic winner CURLIN is also on a two-race win streak and has found the winners' circle in three of her last four starts. The lone miss was a second by 1 3/4 lengths following six-months in the barn. Maybe she needed one to knock off the rust? CURLIN'S VOYAGE is no stranger to hitting the Woodbine wire first with five wins (really four, one by DQ) in nine starts and should be charging hard late.
MERVEILLEAUX (PP: 2 ML 10) is a horse for the Canadian course, finishing in the money six of seven. The lone off the board finish was two back when she finished fourth in the Grade III Selene Stakes. She's been fast in practice leading up to the Queen's Plate with a 4-furlong bullet on September 5th, the fastest of 77 at 47 flat. A clean trip might be all she needs to pull off the upset.
HALO AGAIN (PP: 6 ML 5-1) is yet another that's fared well at Woodbine with a pair of oversized winners' checks and runner up finish in three tries. He finished a 1/2 length behind pre-race favorite CLAYTON in his last race but could be ready to take a step forward in the classic third start after a layoff. It's an angle trainer Steve Asmussen hits at a decent 19% and HALO's fractions improved enough last time, compared to his previous 1 1/8 mile Woodbine run, to expect more today.
Here is how our handicapper sees them finishing in our Queen's Plate Wagering Guide commentary:
"It looks like the race for the Queen's Plate trophy is between CURLIN'S VOYAGE and CLAYTON as the duo look a notch better than the rest. CURLIN'S VOYAGE has the better late run but CLAYTON could get the better trip as he's usually closer to the front. As always, we tilt to the higher odds when all things seem equal. HALO AGAIN is making the classic third start off the break, a 19% hit rate for trainer Steven Asmussen. MERVEILLEUX could be super sharp today as she's put in a couple of really strong works since her last effort."
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