CARROLL GOES FOR THIRD PLATE WITH AMI'S HOLIDAY
Trainer Josie Carroll, who has already won two Queen's Plates (Edenwold in 2006, Inglorious in 2011), will try for a third one on Sunday with Ivan Dalos' homebred Ami's Holiday.
Aboard will be Luis Contreras, who teamed with Carroll to win not only the Plate, but the Woodbine Oaks with the filly Inglorious.
Ami's Holiday, a son of Harlan's Holiday-Victorious Ami, has only started twice this year, finishing a good fourth to Mr. Speaker in the Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland on April 19, before a troubled third, just a neck behind the disqualified winner and Plate rival Asserting Bear, in the Marine Stakes at Woodbine on May 25.
"It was a great effort," said Carroll, about the Marine. "But it was a disappointing race because the horse didn't get a clean trip and show what he could do. That was a little troubling."
About the Lexington, "He ran a tremendous race. For the amount of time he'd been off, I was very impressed with what he did."
Last year, Ami's Holiday broke his maiden at first asking and then stepped up to stakes company and promptly won the Grade 3 Grey. That effort made him the 3-5 choice to win the rich Coronation Futurity but he endured a difficult trip, ending up fifth before being disqualified.
Since the Marine, Ami's Holiday has been busy with four solid works, including a sharp five furlong breeze in 59 3/5 seconds last Sunday. "He's just a very nice, very easy horse to train. He does everything you ask him to."
About the Plate, Carroll, who is also the only female conditioner to ever win the race, added, "It's a big field and this horse has already had a couple of troubled trips. He just really needs a clean trip. He's coming up to the race in really good order. He's bred to go a distance. Everything's right about him. Now we just have to see if things work out on the day."
ONE DESTINY ON EDGE, BUT SET FOR RACE
One Destiny is still touch and go to make the final field for Sunday's Queen's Plate, but he's been training like he's ready to run a career race.
The son of Dance to Destiny is currently ranked 16th on a list of 16 horses (by purse earnings) expected to start in the 155th edition of the 1 ¼-mile event. If two more horses do enter, One Destiny could be on the outside looking in as a maximum of 17 are allowed in the gate for the race.
Trainer Alec Fehr, who also owns a piece of the Ontario-bred with Winston Penny, knows the potential storyline. "Are we going to get in? We're kind of on the edge, aren't we?" he wondered.
The answer to the first question will be answered definitively on Thursday morning at the breakfast draw for the race.
But on Monday, Fehr spoke assuredly about the current condition of the horse, who has one win in three 2014 starts.
"He's doing really fine," Fehr said. "He had a really nice work (on Sunday; a bullet five furlongs in :59, breezing). He's come out of the work in good order and very sharp today. All is well."
Fehr says his tactical speed will serve the horse well. "If you look at his races, he really didn't get to run in any of his three races. He's got any kind of speed. He can be a six-furlong horse or a mile and a quarter horse. He can be wherever in a race, but I'd like to be close to the front (in the Plate)."
Justin Stein, who won the 2012 Queen's Plate aboard Strait of Dover, gets the call on Sunday.
RHYTHM BLUES LOOKS TO ORCHESTRATE PLATE WIN NO. 3 FOR GONZALEZ
Will this year's edition of the Queen's Plate be the same old song for two-time winning trainer Nick Gonzalez?
In 2010, it was Big Red Mike who stepped up to the mike for Gonzalez and hit No. 1 on the Plate chart. Last year, it was Midnight Aria who had the veteran horseman humming a winning Queen's Plate tune. This year, he's hoping Rhythm Blues will take centre stage in front of a packed house in the "Gallop for the Guineas."
"My one thought all along is that he would get better the more he raced," said Gonzalez, of the chestnut son of Tale of the Cat. "His speed figures have gone up each time. I thought he ran a credible race in the Plate Trial (Rhythm Blues was fourth to We Miss Artie in the 1 1/8-mile Plate prep on June 15). He can still get better and hopefully, he is at his best on the big day."
Sporting a record of one win, one second and two thirds from eight starts, the Hillsbrook Farms' silk-bearer has raced at Delaware, Parx, Gulfstream Park and Keeneland, with his past two efforts coming at Woodbine.
"He's a stalker, not a speed horse," offered Gonzalez. "I don't see him being too far out of it. He isn't afraid to be in the mix, inside, outside, wherever. We've had good fortune on two occasions to win this race. Hopefully, we can have some luck again this time."
EARLY LOOK AT THE POSSIBLE JULY 6 QUEEN'S PLATE FIELD (16)
HORSE / TRAINER / OWNER / JOCKEY
Ami's Holiday / Josie Carroll / Ivan Dalos /Luis Contreras
Asserting Bear / Reade Baker / Bear Stables / Chantal Sutherland-Kruse
Athenian Guard / Mike DePaulo / A & L Racing Stables / Omar Moreno
Cap in Hand / Sid Attard / Tucci Stables / Steven Bahen
Coltimus Prime / Justin Nixon / Cabernet Racing Stables / Jesse Campbell
Heart to Heart / Brian Lynch / Terry Hamilton / Eurico Rosa da Silva
Lexie Lou / Mark Casse / Gary Barber / Patrick Husbands
Lions Bay / Jamie Attard / M. N. V. & J. Earle / David Moran
Majestic Sunset / Mark Casse / John Oxley / Gary Boulanger
Man o' Bear / Reade Baker / Bear Stables / Emma-Jayne Wilson
Matador / Mark Casse / John Oxley / Julien Leparoux
Niigon Express / Paul Attard / Chiefswood Stable / Gerry Olguin
One Destiny / Alec Fehr /Winston Penny & Alec Fehr / Justin Stein
Rhythm Blues / Nick Gonzalez / Hillsbrook Farms /TBA
Tower of Texas / Roger Attfield / Thomas Van Meter II & Scott Dilworth / John Velazquez
We Miss Artie / Todd Pletcher / Ken & Sarah Ramsey / Javier Castellano