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Oaks winner Elysian Field, Plate Trial victor Paramount Prince to run in King's Plate

Horse racing Horse racing - The Canadian Press

TORONTO — After winning their respective prep races, stablemates Elysian Field and Paramount Prince will square off in the $1-million King's Plate.

Mark Casse, the trainer for both horses, said Elysian Field and Paramount Prince will be in the field for the first leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown on Aug. 20 at Woodbine Racetrack.

Elysian Field won the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks by 2 1/4 lengths July 23 at Woodbine. The filly, a 5-1 pick, overtook stablemate Ticker Tape Home and jockey Patrick Husbands in deep stretch to finish the 1 1/8-mile race on Woodbine's Tapeta course in 1:49.83 with jockey Sahin Civaci aboard.

Earlier on the same card, Husbands rode Paramount Prince to a convincing five-length, wire-to-wire win in the $150,000 Plate Trial. The 11-1 long-shot covered the identical 1 1/8-mile distance on the Tapeta course in 1:49.99 to earn Husbands a fourth Trial title.

Casse said both horses came out of their respective prep events very well.

"Both are the kind of horses you want," Casse said in a telephone interview Thursday. "They're forward-training horses, they enjoy their job and they're a pleasure to deal with.

"It's not always like that but we're lucky this year."

Casse is confident both horses will be able to handle the 1 1/4-mile Plate distance.

"My feeling has always been if you can go a mile and an eighth, you can go a mile and a quarter," Casse said. "If you can go a mile and a 16th, you can go a mile and an eighth.

"It's all about the ability to settle. Elysian Field settled well and responded when asked. Paramount Prince set fairly decent fractions, it's not like he was lollygagging through. I thought what he did after the (Plate Trial) was impressive as Patrick kind of let him gallop out and he just kept going so I don't think there's an issue there."

However, Casse expects the Plate to set up differently for Paramount Prince than the Plate Trial did.

"I'd say there'll probably be a little pace pressure on him in the King's Plate," Casse said.

However, Casse said his race strategy with both horses won't change in the Plate.

"No, I don't worry about all of that," he said. "Honestly, most of that is all over, done.

"What I do is put the best riders on that I can find and let them do their job. I'll tell Patrick and Sahin the same thing I always do: Good luck and be safe."

The Oaks victory was Elysian Field's second in five starts this year and second in six career races. Shortly after Team Valor International and Gary Barber purchased Elysian Field in 2022, she required medical treatment for colic.

Husbands rode Paramount Prince to a first win of 2023 in three starts and second career victory in five races. Paramount Prince hasn't finished out of the money (two wins, twice second, third) in his racing tenure.

"I'm very happy with where we're at with our horses," Casse said. "We have a couple of starts over the racetrack, which I believe for the most part is extremely important.

"I find horses that haven't run, or even haven't worked, over it are at a bit of a disadvantage."

Casse, 15 times Canada's top thoroughbred trainer, will chase a third Plate win. Both of his previous victories came with fillies (Lexi Lou in 2014, Wonder Gadot in 2018).

In '14, Lexi Lou completed the Oaks-Plate double while Wonder Gadot's Plate win came after a second-place finish in the Oaks. Casse believes Elysian Field has the potential to complete the Oaks-Plate sweep.

"She's a big, strong filly who has really matured," Casse said. "Shortly after we got her she nearly died … and I think that took its toll on her but now she's just reaching her peak.

"A key in these big races is who's peaking at the right time and I kind of feel that both of our horses are peaking. I think you see that in their last performances."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2023.