04/03/2009 12:00AM

150th Queen's Plate highlight of season


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The 150th running of the Queen's Plate, North America's oldest continuously run stakes, will be among the highlights of the 167-day Woodbine meeting, which commences with a 10-race card Saturday.

The $1 million Plate, a 1 1/4-mile Polytrack event for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will be run June 21. It is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, which concludes with the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes here Aug. 2. The second leg, the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, is scheduled for July 12 at Fort Erie.

"It's not every day that a race has its 150th straight running," said John Siscos, Woodbine's senior manager of media relations. "In honor of that, we're planning a big celebration to mark the occasion."

For the second consecutive year, Woodbine will stage six Breeders' Cup Challenge Series Win and You're In turf stakes, which guarantee the winner a berth in a corresponding BC race.

This year's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita will be run Nov. 6-7, two weeks later than last year, and Woodbine has modified its stakes schedule for two of its biggest days accordingly.

Canadian International Day will be held two weeks later than last year. The Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International is one of three BC Win and You're In stakes on the Oct. 17 card, along with the Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor, and the Grade 2, $500,000 Nearctic.

Woodbine Mile Day has also been moved back two weeks, to Sept. 20. The Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile, another BC Win and You're In event, is the centerpiece of a card that also includes the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf and the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes.

The other two BC Win and You're Win races, the $300,000 Summer and $150,000 Natalma, will be contested Sept. 19. Both are Grade 3 stakes for 2-year-olds, with the Natalma restricted to fillies.

The filly equivalent of the Plate, the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, will be run for the 54th time June 7.

Total purses at the meeting are $84 million, and the average daily purse distribution is just over $500,000.

Following opening weekend, Fridays will be added to the schedule April 10. Wednesday racing commences April 29, and Thursdays begin June 4.

Post time for all days except Wednesdays is 1 p.m. Wednesday evening cards begin at 6:45 p.m., except for July 1, which has a 1 p.m. start time.

Saturday's entire card is made up of five-furlong dashes, including the featured La Voyageuse Stakes, a $100,000 event for Ontario-bred 3-year-old fillies.

The once-beaten High Mist and Northern California shipper Pretty Katherine are the protagonists in the La Voyageuse.

High Mist graduated with ease first time out last August, and then posted another front-running victory in a Sept. 11 allowance. She came from just off the pace to take the six-furlong Fanfreluche Stakes in October, while earning her second consecutive Beyer Figure in the low 80s.

High Mist has been idle since Nov. 1, when she came up empty in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth Stakes. Leroy Trotman, the assistant to trainer Reade Baker, said High Mist has trained encouragingly in Florida for her comeback.

"She's been training at Palm Meadows with Reade," said Trotman. "They were pretty happy with the way she worked down there. She came back here, and has continued the same way. She worked pretty decent here [Monday] morning. We were happy with it. She's the same little filly that she was last year. She looks the same way, and has the same attitude."

Pretty Katherine, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, won her maiden second time out last fall at Hollywood, before ending up seventh in the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes. She finished second in the Jan. 10 Tiburon Stakes at Golden Gate, which is where she won her last start, a six-furlong optional claimer.