TORONTO — Trainer Josie Carroll will have history on her side Saturday.
Carroll will be chasing a third career victory in the $1-million Queen’s Plate at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack. She’ll have three horses in this year’s race, including heralded filly Curlin’s Voyage, the 5-2 early second choice.
On Aug. 15, Curlin’s Voyage was an impressive winner of the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks. She captured the opening event of the Canadian Triple Tiara in 1:50.04 over 1 1/8 miles on Woodbine’s Tapeta course.
Earlier that day, Clayton, the early 2-1 Queen’s Plate favourite, won the $150,000 Queen’s Plate Trial in 1:50.61 over the same distance and surface.
Over the last 10 years, three Oaks winners have gone on to win the Plate: Inglorious (2011), Lexie Lou (2014) and Holy Helena (2017). Carroll, who won the Queen’s Plate with filly Inglorious in 2011 and Edenwold in 2006, will also have Belichick and Mighty Heart in the race.
The Queen’s Plate was originally scheduled for June 27 but was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be no spectators at Saturday’s event.
Curlin’s Voyage was named Canada’s champion two-year-old filly last year and has won five of nine career starts. Fillies will carry 123 pounds in the race, three less than the other starters.
The daughter of Curlin will seek to become fourth filly to win the Queen’s Plate in the last seven years. And if she’s successful, she’d maintain the three-year gap in between fillies winning the opening leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown.
“She finds a way to get it done,” Carroll said of Curlin’s Voyage. “She always shows up and she’s a very, very special filly.”
“We’ve always thought very highly of her after her two-year-old debut. She’s a very uncomplicated filly and does everything you ask of her.”
Curlin’s Voyage will be ridden by Patrick Husbands, who rode Wando to the last Canadian Triple Crown in 2003. Husbands also won the ’14 Plate aboard Lexie Lou.
Any horse winning the Triple Crown this year would secure the connections a $500,000 bonus.
Clayton also has solid credentials. The three-year-old has finished in the money in all three events this year — two wins, one second — and has found the winner’s circle in three of his four career races.
And he comes into the Plate having won his last two starts.
“He’s been special from the get-go,” said trainer Roger Attard. “He was an impressive maiden winner, so once that happened, the bell starts ringing in your head, and you’re saying, ‘Hey, maybe I’ve got a good three-year-old here.’
“He’s doing everything you want him to. Hopefully, he just needs to get a little bit better one more time and maybe he can put everything together.”
Attard will also send out filly Merveilleux on Saturday.
Clayton will be ridden by Rafael Hernandez, who won the ’15 Plate with Shaman Ghost. Hernandez guided Clayton to the Plate Trial win last month.
Attard, a native of Tottenham, Ont., is seeking his first Plate victory. He came close in 2007 when Alezzandro finished second behind Mike Fox.
Clayton will break from the No. 12 post in the 14-horse field. Curlin’s Voyage drew the No. 10 post Wednesday.
The field, with post, horse, jockey and early odds, will be: 1. Sweepin Hard (Leo Salles, 50-1); 2. Merveilleux (Kazushi Kimura, 10-1); 3. Belichick (Slade Callaghan, 30-1); 4. Truebelieve (Keveh Nicholls, 30-1); 5. Holyfield (Darryll Holland, 30-1); 6. Halo Again (Luis Contreras, 5-1); 7. Glorious Tribute (David Moran, 30-1); 8. Olliemyboy (Steven Bahen, 30-1); 9. Dotted Line (Justin Stein, 8-1); 10. Curlin’s Voyage (Husbands, 5-2); 11. F F Rocket (Sahin Civaci, 50-1); 12. Clayton (Rafael Hernandez, 2-1); 13. Mighty Heart (Daisuke Fukumoto, 20-1); 14. Tecumseh’s War (Emma-Jayne Wilson, 12-1).
Halo Again, trained by American Steve Asmussen, knows the Woodbine main track well. Last year, the son of Speightstown took the Coronation Futurity Stakes. He also won the 2020 Queenston Stakes before finishing a half-length behind Clayton in the Plate Trial.
“We feel very good about his chances,” said Asmussen. “I thought he stayed on nicely (in the Plate Trial).
“He came out of the race in great shape.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 11, 2020.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press