06/24/2011 12:28PM

Queen's Plate could be one for the books

Michael Burns
Check Your Soul, with Patrick Husbands up, wins the Plate Trial.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – History could be made Sunday at Woodbine in the 152nd running of the $1 million Queen’s Plate when Roger Attfield goes for a record ninth Plate victory by a trainer with the fast-improving Check Your Soul. Also, Jockey Eurico Da Silva will seek an unprecedented third straight win in the storied race aboard Bowman’s Causeway, who should be a good value play in 1 1/4-mile and a quarter event.

A spectacular 12-race card, which begins at 12:25 p.m. Eastern, is on tap. It includes two turf stakes, the Grade 2 Highlander over six furlongs and the Grade 3 Singspiel, which encompasses one lap around the 1 1/2-mile course.

The Queen’s Plate will be broadcast live on CBC-TV from 4:30-6 p.m.

The Plate, which is run over Polytrack, is the first leg of the unique Canadian Triple Crown, for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds. The middle leg, the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, will be run on the dirt at Fort Erie July 17, and the series will conclude with the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes on the grass here Aug. 7.

Check Your Soul and Bowman’s Causeway ran one-two in the June 5 Plate Trial Stakes, which has been the most productive Plate prep over the years.

Check Your Soul missed the break in the nine-furlong Trial, before mounting a powerful five-wide rally to win decisively, while being geared down late by Patrick Husbands. It was a more professional score than when he captured the Wando Stakes in his previous outing. Check Your Soul switched leads several times in the stretch in the Wando. He switched properly to his right lead early in the lane of the Trial, and stayed on it.

“He came out of the [Trial] great,” said Attfield. “His performance was very good. He won it very handily, and he’s an improving horse. I think he’s an exciting prospect. We’ve been schooling him a lot, and he’s handled everything well. He knows what’s going on now.”

Attfield said his main concern is that the large Check Your Soul has a traffic-free run in the huge field, which, at 17 horses, is the biggest in the Plate since 17 started in 1999.

“The trip in a race like this is going to be very important,” Attfield said. “There are going to be a lot of horses who aren’t capable of going that far, and they’re going to be stopping. Racing luck and the trip are what I’m concerned about.”

Bowman’s Causeway was on the Kentucky Derby trail before being eased in the Grade 1 Florida Derby in April. He resurfaced after a layoff with a new trainer, Chad Brown, and finished three lengths back in the Trial after a four-wide journey under Da Silva, who retains the mount.

“I was very pleased with the way he ran,” said Da Silva. “I think he needed that race, to pick up his confidence. He had been off for two months, and you cannot count the race when they pulled him up. I’m positive that he’s going to get the distance.”

Da Silva captured the May 21 Marine Stakes here on the aptly named Queen’splatekitten, but has been replaced on that runner by trainer Todd Pletcher’s go-to rider, John Velasquez.

“He’s very talented, very easy to ride,” said Da Silva.

Oh Canada rallied wide for third in the 1 1/16-mile Marine, after awaiting room on the far turn under Luis Contreras.

“Contreras has ridden him all along, and he made sure that he got him to relax,” said trainer Bob Tiller. “He didn’t move too early, and the outside flow swept by. With a little luck, I think he could have been second. He galloped out good. It gave us enough courage to run in this race.”

Tiller said he loves the five-week break heading into the Plate for Oh Canada, but he lost Contreras to Inglorious. Oh Canada’s new rider is Emma Wilson, who became the first woman to win the Plate on Mike Fox in 2007.

Inglorious will try to become the 34th filly to win the Plate, and just the fifth to complete the Woodbine Oaks/Plate double.

Inglorious was competitive against several of the leading 3-year-old fillies in the United States over the winter, but trainer Josie Carroll decided to bypass the Kentucky Oaks after her fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks. Inglorious came home to notch both the La Lorgnette Stakes and the Woodbine Oaks under shrewd rides from Contreras.

Woodbine’s perennial leading trainer, Mark Casse, who has never won the Plate, entered Enduring Star, Hippolytus, and Strike Oil.

“They all have similar racing styles,” said Casse. “I think they all won’t have a problem with the mile and a quarter, but there are a couple of horses who will be tough to beat.”

Pender Harbour, Seawatch, and Maple Leaf Kitten were all supplemented at a cost of $25,000.