I wonder what the jockeys in the King’s Plate were thinking as their horses passed the grandstand for the first time in the 1 ¼-mile race. I know what experienced horseplayers were thinking: “This race is over. It’s a replay of the Plate Trial.”
And so it was. It was the most elementary of handicapping angles: If a horse gets a clear unchallenged lead, watch out! That horse has a great possibility of winning and so it was for Paramount Prince. We know what his jockey, Patrick Husbands, was likely thinking in the first quarter of the race: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
My Friday column handicapping the Plate was based on horses being able to close from off the pace after two of more horses duked it out early. Which, of course, was not to be. As I said in that column: “All bets are off, however, if no one challenges #13, Paramount Prince, for the lead. No one challenged him in the Plate Trial so he simply aired gate to wire and he could do the same here but, with 17 horses, you’d think he’ll have company up-front.” Not.
All the jockeys in the race had to know that and that’s why I’m wondering what jockeys watching the front-runner were thinking. It had to be: “I’m not going to catch him. The race is over.”
If you saw that scenario play out, congratulations. Saddle cloth #13 was a lucky number on Plate Day and the Prince paid juicy mutuels of $18, $9.70 and $5.80.
The favourite, meanwhile, #6 Kalik, who had raced in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational and had, by far, the best closing fractions at least on the turf, was “restless and washy” and showed little, as did #15 Kaikokaipuu who had been a model of consistency (9 out of 11 finishes in the money) heading into the Plate, but was very wide in the first turn, brushed a horse and retreated.
Only #1 Stanley House, the other horse with good closing fractions, showed some of his class by finishing third behind Woodbine Oaks winner Elysian Field who finished second. It wasn’t a surprise that 71-1 Velocitor finished fourth. I had indicated in Friday’s column he was a possible superfecta play because his closing fraction as a 2-year-old in a 1 1/8-mile race was as good as other top horses in the Plate. The 20-cent superfecta paid $2,224.
So what was the main lesson to be taken from this year’s edition of the King’s Plate? That some races need to be played in two ways if you are uncertain about the pace scenario.
My betting group at Assiniboia Downs recognized this fact and, for the pick-4 that started with the Plate, the group took horses #6 Kalik and #15 Kaikokaipuu because their closing fractions were better than others—but also added the ultimate winner #13 Paramount Prince in case no horse went after him on the front end.
I recall a situation some years ago at Assiniboia Downs where I had a speedball and closer on a pick-6 ticket and the speedball was scratched, leaving me only with the closer as a substitute on a second ticket because he was the favourite in the race. And I can’t recall how many hundreds of dollars I had to bet on the remaining speed horse to make him a favourite so I’d get him as my replacement horse and not the closer. It worked. With no competing speed, the horse I helped make the favourite won. That’s how important I consider pace scenarios.
If Paramount Prince goes on to the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown at Fort Erie, the Prince of Wales Stakes, might he steal that race as well? Surely another jockey will send his horse after him—but didn’t we think that would happen in the Plate? Horse racing is also a cat and mouse game, isn’t it?
By the way, in Friday’s column I also suggested adding horses with high turf Tomlinson figures to your horizontal exotic wagers. In the first leg of the pick-6, race 8, one of those horses was two-year-old filly Golden Canary. She won that race at 7-1 and helped set up a mandatory payoff pick-6 that paid $18,436 for 20-cents.
Of course, Paramount Prince won the third leg of the pick-6, race 10, at 8-1. And the other four legs were won by these horses, all of which had good handicapping angles: Race 9—a good closing-fraction horse on the turf, Miss Dracarys, beat last year’s Queen’s Plate winner Moira at odds of 4-1; races 11 and 12 were won by horses touted by DRF analyst Sheri Riddoch (a 5-2 horse in race 11 and an 11-1 2-year-old in race 12) and DRF expert Ron Gierkink’s pick won race 13 at odds of 3-1.
So to recap the $18K pick-6: a high-Tomlinson horse won one leg, a quick-fraction turf horse won another, the lone speed took the Plate and the three others were picks of DRF analysts — all things to mull over as you seek to capitalize on the racing challenges ahead.
Note the $200,000 Canadian Derby, the second leg of the inaugural Western Canadian Triple Crown, goes Saturday at Century Mile in Edmonton. Mano Dura, the winner of the first leg at Assiniboia Downs, is among 23 nominations. The distance increases to 1 ¼-mile and the handicapping rule is to calculate the closing fractions of 1 1/8-mile races the entrants have raced in.