07/05/2010 12:00AM

Big Red Mike all the way in Plate


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - With Queen Elizabeth II in attendance, Big Red Mike went right to the front and never looked back to capture the 151st running of the at Woodbine Sunday.

It was the second straight Plate score for jockey Eurico Da Silva, who guided Big Red Mike through slow fractions of 24.43, 49.39 and 1:14.31 on a Polytrack surface that was kind to inside speed. Hotep pressed Big Red Mike through the far turn, but Big Red Mike established a clear lead at the head of the stretch en route to a 1 1/2-length win in 2:04.89 for the 1 1/4 miles. He paid $12.

Hotep, the 3-1 morning line favorite, finished second at 5-1. Woodbine Oaks winner Roan Inish, the 7-2 second choice, rallied for third, and Giant's Tomb was along for fourth. Mobilizer, the tepid 7-2 favorite, faded in the stretch after an outside stalking trip, and wound up 10th in the 13-horse field of Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Da Silva won last year's Plate from just off the pace aboard Eye of the Leopard.

"I'm proud of both horses," said Da Silva. "The horse last year tried so hard, and this horse was so focused. He tried his best. He ran great today. I was galloping along pretty easy around the first turn. When Hotep pressed me, I just tried to nurse him along, and I had a lot of horse turning for home. Winning the Queen's Plate is great, and having the Queen here is so special."

Big Red Mike was the first Plate starter for trainer Nick Gonzalez, who recently notched career victory number 1,000.

"He's a fighter," said Gonzalez. "He showed that when he won the Plate Trial, and he moved forward after he won that race. He looked like he was going pretty comfortable all the way round. He didn't get a real lot of pressure. When they came to him, I knew he'd dig in and fight them off, and that's exactly what he did."

Big Red Mike, a gelding by Tenpins, earned $600,000 for Dom Romeo's Terra Racing Stable, which boosted the homebred's bankroll to $767,396.

Gonzalez said Big Red Mike is headed for the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes on the dirt at Fort Erie July 25.