Queen's Plate 2016 notes for Thursday (6-23-16)

June 23, 2016 09:08am
Tapeta surface at Woodbine (3-17-16)
Photo: Woodbine Entertainment
Narrow Escape will go into the Queen's Plate light on speed figures but with the full confidence of trainer and part-owner Justin Nixon.

"Trent Dilfer didn't put up any great quarterback stats, but he won the Super Bowl," grinned Nixon, referring to the Baltimore Raven game management expert who engineered a 34-7 Super Bowl XXXV win over the New York Giants.

The bay son of Sky Conqueror, out of Certainly Special, is a half-brother to Coltimus Prime who captured the 2014 Prince of Wales Stakes, second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown under Nixon's tutelage for owners Cabernet Racing Stables.

Undefeated in his two attempts around two-turns, Narrow Escape has demonstrated talent greater than a career-best 64 Beyer Speed Figure earned while making his seasonal debut on June 11 in a first level allowance event.

"He trains like a horse that will get the distance and he has the pedigree for the Plate. He won going two turns off an eight-month layoff," said Nixon. "I  know everybody puts a lot of weight on Beyer figures and times, but I was very happy with him. Even though he didn't get a great figure, we're encouraged with the way he did it." 

Nixon notes that Narrow Escape, physically speaking, is a little more akin to his stakes winning half-sister Crysta's Court.

"Coltimus Prime was a lot more precocious and further ahead of the game as a two-year-old. He was a little more naturally talented," said Nixon. "Physically, they're very different as well. He resembles Crysta's Court a lot more. He's stout and stocky. This guy is a little more stout through the barrel than Coltimus Prime.”

The playful colt, who goes by the barn name of 'Monkey', graduated at Woodbine in his final juvenile start when a 1/2-length winner over Cheburashka in a 1 1/16-mile maiden allowance on October 7. He came back on June 11, after wintering in Florida at Solara Farm, and won by a widening 1 3/4-lengths.

"We call him 'Monkey'. He likes to holler and mess around. He came with that name from Solara Farms and it stuck," laughed Nixon. "Curtis Garrison at Solara Farms did the winter work. He came back with a lot of foundation and ready to go. 

“For the maiden win last year, we put him in where we thought he could be very competitive, two-turns against Ontario-sired, and he got the job done," continued Nixon. "Then he came off the layoff and went two turns and ran very well. Every time we've asked him to do what his pedigree says he can do, he's done it."

And if he doesn't get the job done in the Plate, there is always the race his big brother won just a few miles down the Queen Elizabeth Way.

"He trains very well on dirt. We haven't run him on it, but we'll have to see," said Nixon. "We have the Prince of Wales in mind if all goes well. One step at a time, obviously, but the Plate is a great prep for the Prince of Wales."


My Name Is Jim, trained by Reade Baker for owner Mario Forgione, will go into the Queen's Plate off an impressive graduation in a nine furlong maiden allowance event.  

The lightly raced son of Society's Chairman debuted on April 24 when 10th in a 6 1/2 furlong sprint, but improved markedly to be third, defeated less than two lengths, when routing for the first time in a May 24 maiden allowance. 

"Each race has been better. He goes into the Plate with everything but numbers behind him. He's a big, well-bred horse and he wants to go farther. He's big enough and strong enough to carry the 126 pounds and the distance won't be a problem," said Baker.

The grand looking grey is out of the Smoke Glacken mare Romanced and is from the same family as 2010 Breeders' Stakes champ Miami Deco.

"We bought him in Ocala this winter. He was a good looking horse. A big, long, stretchy two-turn horse," recalled Baker.

Although the maiden win came in a comparatively slower time to some of his Plate rivals, Baker isn't too concerned.

"The slow times are a negative, but he won with authority and the farther he goes the better he'll like it," said Baker. "Before they were putting water on it, the track seemed to slow down in the heat. It was pretty damn hot that day he won so whether that bothered his numbers, I don't know."

One thing for certain, the long striding grey will be ready for his first added-money test.

"He's in great shape," said Baker.


Olga Pankova has been selected as the Official Artist of the 2016 Queen’s Plate. Her painting, ‘Mudder – All Out,' which was chosen from a compelling field of submissions, came to be after a request for a horse painting from her daughter.
A simple wish from Pankova’s six-year-old daughter eventually led to a series of artistic creations and an eventual submission to one of Woodbine’s most popular annual Queen’s Plate contests.
“Over the past year or so, I have been creating paintings featuring wildlife,” said the Markham-based Pankova. “Last year, my daughter asked if I could paint her a horse.  So I did, and then continued to paint at least 10 other horse paintings. I became infatuated with their grace, beauty and spirit. I was in awe. Having heard about this opportunity to paint for the 2016 Queen’s Plate contest, my husband said, ‘You need to capture their power.’"  

Pankova’s painting was selected as one of five finalists on May 27. Following fan voting, she was informed that her piece was the winning submission.  For more on Pankova’s equine works, visit www.portrait-artist.ca and www.canadian-art.gallery/AP/Art-Paintings-Horses.

Fans attending The Queen's Plate on July 3 will be able to see ‘Mudder – All Out' and meet Pankova as part of the numerous fan experiences surrounding this year’s running of Canada’s iconic sporting event.


All On Red / Sid Attard / JMJ Racing Stables LLC / Eurico Rosa da Silva
Amis Gizmo / Josie Carroll / Ivan Dalos / TBA
Crumlin Spirit / Mike Doyle / Dura Racing and M. J. Doyle Racing Stables Ltd. / TBA
Esposito / Tom Proctor / Chartwell Partners LLC / Alan Garcia
Gamble's Ghost / Josie Carroll / Ivan Dalos / TBA
Hammers Vision / Brian Lynch / Terry Hamilton / Patrick Husbands
Leavem in Malibu / Mark Casse / Gary Barber & Conrad Farms / Gary Boulanger
Mike / John LeBlanc Jr./ Paradox Farm, Inc., Mardon Stable & Hugh Sutherland / TBA
My Name Is Jim / Reade Baker / Mario Forgione / TBA
Narrow Escape / Justin Nixon / JMC's Racing Stable, Warren Dehan & Justin J. Nixon / TBA
Rocket Plan / John LeBlanc Jr. / William Gierkink / Simon Husbands
Scholar Athlete / Graham Motion / West Point Thoroughbreds / Jose Ortiz
Shakhimat / Roger Attfield / Dan Gale and Richard Hogan / Emma-Jayne Wilson
Sir Dudley Digges / Mike Maker / Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey / Julien Leparoux

Source: Woodbine Communications Office


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