It’s an iconic sporting spectacle, an event steeped in history, tradition, and excellence, one with many compelling chapters already written, but exciting new ones still to be added.
When Scott Trapasso, who holds the reins of Director with Media That Matters, undertook the task of creating a video to herald the renaming and rebranding of The Queen’s Plate, the oldest continually run Thoroughbred stakes races in North America, there was one thought that first came to mind.
“We knew going into this that we wanted to pay homage to the past, but also ignite a new future,” said Trapasso, of the race that is historically named in honour of the reigning monarch. “There has always been a genuine excitement about this race. The question was, ‘How do we create an atmosphere in the video that captures that?’ And I believe we did.”
The end result of the project, the one that unveiled the race that will now be known as The King’s Plate following the September 2022 accession of King Charles III, is a respectful acknowledgement of the past and effusive exuberant celebration of the present.
“We wanted to ensure that we brought to life the history of the race, the importance of it, the significance of it, what it means to Canadians, and its tie to the British monarchy,” noted Trapasso. “I went to my first Queen’s Plate this summer and it was an unbelievable experience. And I wanted to communicate that passion through what we did. With that in mind, we created three elements to the video, the modern-day jockey, stepping into a new era of the Plate, and what it is becoming, a person who could be seen as an ex-jockey or ex-trainer, discovering an old projector, and watching footage of different runnings of the race, and a young woman, in modern times, getting ready to go to the Plate.”
Trapasso has rave reviews for the actors, two-time Queen’s Plate winner Rafael Hernandez, Harold Tausch, and Leah Arscott, who helped bring the story to life.
“They were all great. The casting is such an important part. We actually cast Harold first. We had mixed titles for him, but he had this great vibe to him, that he was a past horseman who had a strong bond to the Plate. As soon as we saw him, he was perfect. His face has so much character and told the story in and of itself. Leah, she was the last person we cast, about three or four days before the shoot. Leah is a voice-over artist from Toronto and did a voice-over for us years ago. I was on a phone call, locking in our actress, and she emailed one of her voice-over newsletters, with her picture on the bottom. I hadn’t talked to her in two or three years, but I picked up the phone and called her. She had this perfect look for this project. I asked her if she was interested, and she wanted to think about it. She called back in about an hour and said she was in. She encompassed everything about people in the present getting ready to go to the race. She had never acted on-screen, but she has this great presence about her, and it really worked so well.”
As it did with Hernandez, who won the Plate with Shaman Ghost in 2015 and this year with the filly Moira.
“This was our second time filming with Rafael. We did some content for Woodbine earlier this year. He was amazing to work with. He’s a real champion. It was wonderful that he lent his time and talent to the piece. He’s easy to direct and a lot of fun. We’re very happy with how it turned out and excited like everyone else is about a new era for this race.”
The King’s Plate remains one of the highest-profile events in Canadian sport. The race for 3-year-old Canadian-bred horses is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown and is followed by the Prince of Wales Stakes run at Fort Erie Race Track and the Breeders’ Stakes run at Woodbine Racetrack.
The first running of the race, then known as The Queen’s Plate, was in 1860 when Don Juan put his name into the history books as the inaugural winner.
Since then, some of Canada’s greatest champions have won the race, a list that includes Northern Dancer, Kennedy Road, Flaming Page, Izvestia, With Approval, Dance Smartly, and Wando.
In 2003, Wando became the most recent horse to notch the coveted Canadian Triple Crown, trained to victory by Mike Keogh for owner and breeder Gus Schickedanz.
This year, the brilliant filly Moira, a 3-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper, sent out by trainer Kevin Attard for X-Men Racing, Madaket Racing LLC, and SF Racing LLC, earned her place in the annals of Plate history with a spectacular seven-length triumph in track-record fashion.
On August 20, 2023, a new winner will be crowned in the first race to be run under The King’s Plate banner since 1951.
While the name has changed, the 164th running of The King’s Plate will remain the centrepiece of the Woodbine Thoroughbred racing calendar, a day when thousands of racing fans, young and old, experts or neophytes, come together to celebrate an event unlike any other.
Just as it is captured in The King’s Plate video.
“I love it,” said Trapasso. “Seeing the piece come to life, the end result, it brought tears to my eyes. It was a cool moment to be able to work on something, and I truly mean this, such a great history and big story. We wanted to attach feelings to that and hopefully, other people will feel that too. It was a great honour.”