The $1 million Queen’s Plate, Canada’s most important horse race, is being contested for the 160th time Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack, near Toronto. It’s the oldest continually run race in North America, dating back to 1860.

2018 Queen Plate
That ain’t hay! Jockey John Velazquez holds the Queen’s Plate Trophy after filly Wonder Gadot’s 2018 triumph in the $1 million race. (Image: AP)

A full field of 14 are contesting the race. The early 5/2 post time favorite is Avie’s Flatter. However, he’s marooned in the disadvantageous No. 14 spot in the starting gate. That means extra distance to run and, most likely, more horses he’ll have to pass if he’s to get his picture taken in the winner’s circle with the Queen’s Plate Trophy.

New York-based jockey Javier Castellano rides for trainer Josie Carroll. A victory would be the local conditioner’s third Queen’s Plate triumph.

Canadian Triple Crown is the Complete Test

The 1 1/4-mile race event is the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown. It’s restricted to 3-year-old Canadian-foaled horses. The Canadian Triple Crown is contested at two different tracks and on three different surfaces. They are Woodbine’s synthetic, Fort Erie’s dirt at 1 3/16 miles and the last leg on Woodbine’s grass course at 1 1/2 miles. This element greatly distinguishes the three-race series from the US version where no races are run on grass or the synthetic.

Carroll became the first female trainer to win the Plate in 2006 with Edenwold. 

She told the assembled media at the post position draw Wednesday:

“Our horse has tactical speed and I’d hope to see him sitting just behind the first group tucked over to save some ground. Once we get out of there we have a chance to see where everyone else lines up and hopefully tuck in and get his own position.”

Look Out For Mark Casse

Mark Casse, a two-time Plate champion himself, saddles 4/1 third pick Skywire and Federal Law who projects at 15/1. Casse is the winning trainer in the race just a year ago. Wonder Gadot, his recently retired filly, getting the job done and paying $6.20 to win.  Casse trains the winner of two leg’s of the US Triple Crown this year with two different horses — War of Will in the Preakness and Sir Winston in the Belmont.  Casse also won the Queen’s Plate in 2014 with another filly Lexie Lou.

Avie’s Flatter achieves early favoritism because he’s last year’s champion two-year-old male in Canada. He’s a winner in four-of-six career starts and over $420,000 in earnings during his brief career. But, and it’s a big but, he was last seen reporting home a distant sixth in the American Turf at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, May 4.

“For some reason he had a little trouble with that turf course,” Carroll said. “He bobbled a bit and didn’t finish as well as we thought.

Post time for the Queen’s Plate is 5:36 pm ET. For a look at the full field and their connections, click here.

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