LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 28, 2019) – Each week, the NTRA will provide a guide to the best stakes races in North America and beyond. Races are listed in chronological order (all times Eastern). Full previews when available can be found through the link for each race.
This week features the 160th running of the Queen’s Plate, North America’s oldest annually run race and the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. Woodbine’s historic test is part of a card that also features the Grade 1 Highlander Stakes and the Grade 2 Dance Smartly, which has 2017 Queen’s Plate winner Holy Helena among its entrants.
HRRN will offer coverage live from Woodbine for the Queen’s Plate. Coverage of the Queen’s Plate presented by TwinSpires and Hill n’ Dale Farm will run from 4-6 pm ET and can heard on Sirius/XM 156 and streamed live on horseracingradio.net.
Saturday June 29
2:53 p.m.—$175,000 Grade 2 King Edward Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Emmaus, a sharp second when making his local bow in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup, will be looking to go one better as he returns from his Kentucky base for Saturday’s King Edward Stakes. The five-year-old Emmaus, winner of a pair of listed stakes in England and purchased at auction there last October, was a good runner-up to the multiple turf stakes winner Therapist when making his North American bow in Belmont’s Elusive Quality at seven furlongs on the turf this April.
4:18 p.m.—$175,000 Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Two years after her dominant victory in the Queen’s Plate, Holy Helena has come home to race on Plate day at Woodbine, albeit in the Dance Smartly Stakes. The five-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper was chosen Canada’s top three-year-old filly in 2017 after she swept both the Woodbine Oaks and the Plate. Her first six starts had been on dirt and synthetic tracks, but trainer Jimmy Jerkins switched her to the turf to open her four-year-old season, and she promptly won three consecutive races.
4:51 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 1 Highlander Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Wet Your Whistle, a four-year-old son of Stroll, heads into Saturday’s six-furlong Highlander Stakes at the top of his game. Riding a three-race win streak, including a monster performance in the Get Serious Stakes at Monmouth Park in May, Wet Your Whistle’s connections are viewing things as much more than a half glass full heading into the Highlander.
5:18 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
John Oxley’s Wings of Dawn will be making her stakes debut in her first career start on dirt as part of a six-horse field of 3-year-old fillies in the 63rd running of the Mother Goose. Wings of Dawn posted back-to-back wins over Woodbine’s Tapeta synthetic track, including a maiden-breaking one-length victory on May 3 and a 4 ½-length score on May 19, with both contests at the 1 1/16-mile Mother Goose distance. The likely favorite figures to be Peter Brant’s Dunbar Road, who has never finished out of the exacta in three career starts, winning her debut on March 3 at Gulfstream before finishing second in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks on March 30.
5:30 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 2 Princess Rooney Stakes at Gulfstream Park on TVG
Stormy Embrace is scheduled to seek a title defense and another shot at the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in Saturday’s Princess Rooney, a seven-furlong Breeders’ Cup ‘Win & You’re In’ qualifier. Stormy Embrace, who is slated to face six rivals, enters the Princess Rooney off a sensational 10 ½-length victory in the May 18 Musical Romance Stakes at Gulfstream. Last year, Stormy Embrace won the Musical Romance on her way to capturing the Princess Rooney by six lengths to earn a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs, where she finished off-the-board.
5:36 p.m.—$1,000,000 Queen’s Plate Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Avie’s Flatter, Canada’s champion two-year-old male, looms as the horse to beat when he faces 13 other Queen’s Plate hopefuls in the $1 million showpiece over 1 1/4 miles on Woodbine’s Tapeta surface. Avie’s Flatter, a homebred who races for owner Ivan Dalos and is trained by Josie Carroll, wrapped up his first campaign with back-to-back wins over fellow Canadian-breds in the Cup and Saucer at 1 1/16 miles on turf and the Coronation Futurity over 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Norcliffe was the last horse to win both the Coronation Futurity and the Queen’s Plate, completing that double in 1976.
5:59 p.m.—$125,000 Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs on TVG
Designated Hitters Racing Rookie Salsa tops a field of 10 2-year-olds that were entered in the 118th running of the Bashford Manor – part of a trio of stakes races on closing day of the 38-day Spring Meet at Churchill Downs. Rookie Salsa, trained by Maryland-based conditioner Jeremiah O’Dwyer, rallied from four-lengths off the pace to defeat seven rivals by 1 ½ lengths under jockey Angel Suarez at odds of 27-1 in the five-furlong Kentucky Juvenile on May 1. The Florida-bred son of Two Step Salsa recently finished third in the $150,000 Tremont Stakes on June 7 at Belmont Park.
6:02 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 3 Smile Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream Park on TVG
DARRS, Inc.’s Proforma, already a graded-stakes winner on the turf, will attempt to duplicate that success on the dirt as part of a wide-open field of seven sprinters in the Smile Sprint going six furlongs. The Smile Sprint will mark Proforma’s debut at Gulfstream, his seventh consecutive start at a different track dating back to last summer at Monmouth Park.
6:15 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Chicago Handicap at Arlington International on TVG
Defending race winner Hotshot Anna puts her four-race win streak on the line as she comes off a layoff against eight other challengers in the seven-furlong Chicago Handicap. Owned and trained by Hugh Robertson, Hotshot Anna will be making her first start since taking the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes last September. That victory capped off a successful 2018 season for the daughter of Trappe Shot as she won three stakes – two of them graded – and was worse than second just once in seven outings.
Sunday June 30
4:55 p.m.—$125,000 Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Fresh off his victory in the Grade 2 Eclipse Stakes at Woodbine on May 20, Souper Tapit heads up a field of six in the 1 ¼-mile Dominion Day Stakes over the all-weather main track. Among the veterans Souper Tapit will face is multiple graded stakes winner and millionaire Are You Kidding Me from the barn of Roger Attfield and Pumpkin Rumble, who will be making his first start since taking the Grade 3 Valedictory Stakes at Woodbine last December.