Welcome to Groundhog Day!
Okay, well perhaps every day has been a form of Groundhog Day for the past 11 months but there is some reason 2021 may see the world return a bit more to normal.
Feb. 1 was the deadline for early nominations to the Canadian Triple Crown which kicks off with Queen’s Plate on Aug. 22. The filly classic, the Woodbine Oaks, is set for July 25.
Some of the horses listed on the CT Top 15 may not be among the early nominations but, as with other stakes race, horses can be supplemented leading up to the race.
Canada’s probable Champion 2-Year-Old Male of 2020 GRETZKY THE GREAT sizzled four furlongs in 48 flat at Mark Casse’s Training Centre Jan. 29, his third workout as 3-year-old. The Grade 1 winning son of Nyquist has won on turf and Tapeta for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber.
This coming Saturday, Feb. 6 at Tampa Bay Downs is the Sam F. Davis Stakes on the dirt and this should be the 3-year-old debut of Ontario-bred, American-based SMILEY SOBOTKA, a son of Brody’s Cause – Dancethewayyouare by Mineshaft.
The colt sped 4 furlongs in 46 4/5 breezing on Jan. 30 at Gulfstream Park for trainer Dale Romans and the Albaugh Family Stables. The colt was a close second in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs Nov. 20 with a 78 Beyer Figure. A winner at 1 1/16 miles in his second career race, Smiley Sobotka was bred by Dave Clancy’s Track West Racing Inc and was a $185,000 yearling purchase.
Trainer Kevin Attard, who stayed in Ontario this winter and is training his horses at Winview Farms in Caledon east, has four Plate prospects and he seeks his first Plate win.
STEPHEN (Constitution – Naughty Holiday by Harlan’s Holiday) who won his maiden in the 1 1/8 mile Futurity for owners Al and Bill Ulwelling .A $170,000 2-year-old purchase, Stephen earned a 75 Beyer Figure in his Futurity. The Ulwelling’s also have impressive debut winner HADDASSAH who was bred by the owners. The gelding is by Air Force Blue from Lady Haddassah, by Whywhywhy and he won a 1 mile and 70 yard race Nov. 1 with a 79 Beyer Figure.
Derek Chin’s maiden TRUFFLE KING (Giant Gizmo) earned a 76 Beyer Figure when second by a neck in a good maiden race in November and the winner that day was Attard trainee KEEP GRINDING (Tuzway), owned by Attard’s son Joshua.
Sam-Son Farms’ TIO MAGICO led for most of the way in the Coronation Futurity and landed second 1 1/4 lengths behind Stephen. The dark bay colt is by Uncle Mo and won his maiden at 1 1/16 miles. He is trained by Gail Cox.
MASTER SPY (Silent Name (Jpn) – Smart Catomine by Smart Strike) won the Cup & Saucer on the grass at 2 and was fourth in the Coronation Futurity for Tracy Farmer and trainer Mark Casse. He was bred by Bernard and Karen McCormack.
Fillies figure again on the Plate list. DREAMING OF DREW is in training in Florida, she has had 3 workouts, and the Speightster filly won the Princess Elizabeth Stakes last fall on the pace for trainer Barbara Minshall.
IL MALOCCHIO, second in the Princess Elizabeth, is in training in Florida with trainer Ken McPeek and the Souper Speedy filly won the Victorian Queen Stakes on turf for owner and breeder Frank Meli and trainer Martin Drexler. She is nominated to this Saturday’s Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
CURLIN’S CATCH recently won her maiden at Gulfstream Park for trainer Mark Casse and CAFE SOCIETY (Empire Maker) was fourth in the Grade 2 Demoiselle stakes in New York in December for trainer Shug McGaughey. JILLI MARIE, undefeated in 2 starts at 2 and winner of the South Ocean Stakes, has left for the south to get ready for her 2021 season for trainer Katerina Vassilieva.
More males on the Plate contenders’ list include Frost King Stakes winner RED RIVER REBEL (Reload) for Denny Andrews and Northern Dawn Stable, trainer Rachel Halden, PERFECT CRIME (Old Forester) for Colebrook Farms, CANDY OVERLOAD (Reload), WEYBURN (Pioneerofthe Nile), LOMAKI’S GEM (Gemologist), AVOMAN (Old Forester) and impressive debut winner CRUDEN BAY (Big Screen).
Stronach Stables’ RIPTIDE ROCK, a smart debut winner on turf in 2020, is training at Oaklawn Park.
Queen’s Plate Top 15
1. GRETZKY THE GREAT
2. SMILEY SOBOTKA
4. TIO MAGIC
6. GIANT WATERS
7. MASTER SPY
8. DREAMING OF DREW – Oaks
10. CURLIN’S CATCH – Oaks
11. RED RIVER REBEL
12. IL MALOCCHIO – Oaks
13. CAFE SOCIETY – Oaks
14. PERFECT CRIME
15. LOMAKI’S GEM