This is a milestone year for the Queen’s Plate: it’s the 160th running, so many years from the first, won by Don Juan.
Don Juan had to run three heats to win it and defeat seven others in Toronto, which at the time had a population of 44,425.
This time, there are 14 horses, and it’s one dash for $1-million in front as the crowd tries to muster up the Royal Ascot flavour. Yes, there’s a Hats and Horseshoes party.
The record time for the 1 ¼ miles was set by the little grey Izvestia 29 years ago. The longest priced winner was T.J.’s Lucky Moon at 82 to 1 (he paid $166 for a $2 win ticket in 2002). The shortest price winner was Victoria Park in 1960, paying only $2.10 for that two buck ticket. The largest margin of victory was Izvestia’s 13-length romp in 1990. The smallest margin of victory was a nose, eeked out by three horses, Blue Light in 1961, Fiddle Dancer Boy in 1981, and With Approval, the grey who always liked to keep his owners on edge with close finishes, in 1989.
Avelino Gomez, Sandy Hawley and Robin Platts have each won four Plates. No jockey in the field today has won more than two: Patrick Husbands won with Wando in 2003, and Lexie Lou in 2014; Luis Contreras won with two fillies, Inglorious in 2011 and Holy Helena in 2017; and Eurico Rosa da Silva scored with Eye of the Leopard in 2009 and Big Red Mike in 2010.
They all hope to add to their totals: Husbands gets 15 to 1 shot He’s a Macho Man for trainer Josie Carroll, Contreras has Tone Broke, a 6 to 1 shot for Steve Asmussen that has never raced over a synthetic track. And Da Silva gets 4 to 1 shot Skywire, winner of the Wando Stakes, second in the Marine, for trainer Mark Casse, the guy who won the Preakness this year with War of Will and the Belmont Stakes with Sir Winston, both horses that raced at Woodbine last year.
Hall of Fame Roger Attfield is tied with Harry Giddings Jr., with the most winners of the Plate – eight – but Attfield doesn’t have a shot to break the record. Alas, he has no horse in the Plate. He has two interesting fillies in the Dance Smartly Stakes, probably one of the most intriguing races on the 13-race card.
So here are some of them, the contenders in a fascinating edition, whose owners all anted up $10,000 for the final entry fee: