06/25/2011 10:18AM

Queen's Plate Weekend

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The Queen's Plate, the Kentucky Derby of Canada, headlines a fascinating weekend of racing in North America.

The Plate, the 10th race at Woodbine on Sunday, attracted a field of 17 three-year-old hopefuls.  There are some familiar names with Woodbine Oaks heroine INGLORIOUS (second in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds behind Kathmanblu) tackling the boys, the appropriately-named QUEEN'SPLATEKITTEN, second in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes on grass at Gulfstream for trainer Todd Pletcher and BOWMAN'S CAUSEWAY, fourth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and eighth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.  

They all must have them nailed on tight to down CHECK YOUR SOUL, a son of Perfect Soul seeking his fourth straight victory for legendary trainer Roger Attfield.  Check Your Soul's maiden win on grass going 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland went faster than a 'n3x' allowance for older males contested over the same course on the same day.  He then went on to score at odds-on in his polytrack debut - the Wando Stakes at Woodbine on May 1 - before taking the Plate Trial on June 5 in very impressive fashion.
In the Plate Trial, Check Your Soul hopped straight up in the air at the break and was three wide near the back of the pack on the first turn.  Check Your Soul made a steady advance on the backstretch, geared up while wide on the turn and made the front turning for home.  With Patrick Husbands' whip turned down, Check Your Soul exploded away from his opponents in the stretch to win by 3 1/4 lengths. 

The break will obviously be key for Check Your Soul in the Plate.  With 16 rivals, it is imperative for Husbands not to lose too much ground at the start of this 1 1/4-mile test.  No matter how talented a runner may be, it isn't easy to weave one's way through and around a plethora of horseflesh.  With a clean start, Check Your Soul should make his presence felt.

OH CANADA looms an interesting longshot for trainer Robert Tiller.  Never off the board from five starts, Oh Canada adds blinkers following a third-place finish behind Queen'splatekitten in the Marine Stakes on May 21.  Tiller doesn't have great numbers with first-time blinkered runners (1 for his last 34), but there doesn't appear to be much speed in the Plate and Oh Canada should be forwardly-placed heading into the backstretch. 

HIPPOLYTUS also adds blinkers.  He finished fourth in the Plate Trial, but will now make the third start of the form cycle for Mark Casse.  He needs a Beyer boost, but isn't the worst stab on the bottom of exotic wagers.

PENDER HARBOUR was my "winter book" Plate horse after he won the Kingarvie Stakes to conclude his juvenile season.  The gelded son of Philanthropist underwent knee surgery over the winter and may slowly be rounding back into form for trainer Michael DePaulo.

Selections:  Check Your Soul, Oh Canada, Queen'splatekitten

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Some quick-and-dirty selections for this weekend:

New York:  GIANTS PLAY, ZAGORA, HIBAAYEB
King Edward:  GRAND ADVENTURE, MERKABAH, FIFTY PROOF
Mother Goose:  JOYFUL VICTORY, BUSTER'S READY, SALTY STRIKE
Boiling Springs:  SUMMER SOIREE, PONTENUOVO, MY SUNSHINE GALE
Hollywood Oaks:  ZAZU, PLUM PRETTY, BIG TIZ

For more-detailed video analysis of some of the other major stakes races this week, please click on the link below, scroll down to the lower video player and click on the race name on the right:

http://www.drf.com/news/weekend-stakes-preview-videos

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More importantly, who do you like this weekend?  I want to know.