Calgary Herald

Trainer sends three horses into Queen’s Plate


TORONTO — He’s one of Canada’s most successful trainers but one accomplish­ment missing from Mark Casse’s impressive resumé is a Queen’s Plate victory.

The six-time Sovereign award winner as the country’s top conditione­r will send three horses — including 4-1 early second choice Lexie Lou and 8-1 third pick Matador — postward Sunday in search of his first career win in North America’s oldest, continuous­ly run stakes event at Woodbine Racetrack. Casse’s best finish in the $1-million, 11/4-mile race was second in 2011 with Hippolytus.

“When you travel around Canada and tell people you’re a horse trainer, they want to know if you’ve won the Queen’s Plate,” Casse said follow- ing the race draw Thursday. “So far, the answer is no but hopefully after Sunday I’ll be able to say yes.

“I would like to win the Kentucky Derby, that one is big too, but this (Plate win) would be No. 1.”

We Miss Artie is the 8-5 favourite despite running slower than Lexie Lou their last time out. We Miss Artie rallied to capture the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial in 1:50.78 on June 15 at Woodbine before Lexie Lou’s impressive 41/2-length Woodbine Oaks win in 1:49.77 over the same distance moments later.

Lexie Lou will carry five pounds less than the others in the 15-horse field Sunday as the lone filly.

“Going a mile and a quarter, five pounds is a big difference,” Casse said. “In her last race, she ran a second faster than the favourite and that means something.

“I think there’s a good shot there will be a female winner this year.”

Lexie Lou will attempt to become the 35th filly to win the Plate but just the seventh since 1956. And only five Oaks winners have also claimed Canada’s most prestigiou­s race, the last being Inglorious in 2011.

We Miss Artie drew the No. 6 post while Lexie Lou will break from the No. 14 position. Matador starts from the No. 10 post while Majestic Sunset, Casse’s third horse and the secondplac­e finisher in the Plate Trial, goes from the No. 7 post.

“I think this is the strongest hand we’ve ever brought to the table,” Casse said. “With any race you can have the best horses but you still need to have some luck.

“We’re ready. Sooner or later we’ll get this thing.”

The field, with post position, horse, jockey and odds, includes:

1) Cap in Hand, Steven Bahen, 501; 2) Coltimus Prime, Jesse Campbell 20-1; 3) Athenian Guard, Omar Moreno, 50-1; 4) Asserting Bear, Chantal-Sutherland Kruse, 10-1; 5) Man o’ Bear, Emma-Jayne Wilson, 30-1; 6) We Miss Artie, Javier Castellano, 8-5; 7) Majestic Sunset, Gary Boulanger, 15-1; 8) Lions Bay, David Moran, 30-1; 9) Heart to Heart Eurico Rosa de Silva, 30-1; 10) Matador, Julien Leparoux, 8-1; 11) One Destiny, Justin Stein, 30-1; 12) Tower of Texas, John Velazquez, 20-1; 13) Niigon Express, Gerry Olguin, 30-1; 14) Lexie Lou, Patrick Husbands, 4-1; 15) Ami’s Holiday, Luis Contreras.

Favourites have won 22-of-58 renewals (37 per cent) since 1956 but only two — Wando in 2003 and Eye of the Leopard in 2009 — have been victorious in the last 19 editions.

The Plate is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. The other races are the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes (July 29 at Fort Erie, Ont.) and $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes turf event (Aug. 17, also at Woodbine in Toronto). There’ve been seven Triple Crown winners, the last being Wando in 2003.

 ?? Michael Burns/The Canadian Press ?? Considered the 8-5 favourite for Sunday’s Queen’s Plate, We Miss Artie checks the surroundin­gs.
Michael Burns/The Canadian Press Considered the 8-5 favourite for Sunday’s Queen’s Plate, We Miss Artie checks the surroundin­gs.

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