04/18/2002 11:00PM

Sam-Son assumes mantle of Queen's Plate royalty


The Queen's Plate, Canada's most famous race and the oldest continuously run race in North America, has an intriguing history, especially when it comes to Canadian owners and breeders who have dominated the winner's list.

Joseph Seagram won eight consecutive Plates as an owner n the 1890's, and 15 Plates in total.

E.P. Taylor's legendary Windfields Farm won the race 11 times including five runnings between 1959 and the great Northern Dancer in 1964.

David Willmot's Kinghaven Farms, founded by his father, the late Bud Willmot, won the race four times in six years beginning in the late 1980's.

Is Sam-Son Farms the next Plate dynasty?

"Absolutely," said Lou Cauz, author of "The Plate: A Royal Tradition" and director of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

"They've won the last two and four times in total since 1988. They have the best bred horses and they have a lot of ammunition."

Sam-Son Farms, founded by the late Ernie Samuel 30 years ago, is now operated by his widow, Liza, and daughter Tammy Samuel-Balaz, and it appears the family racing business will continue on as strong as ever.

Since Samuel's death in the spring of 2000, Sam-Son homebreds, full siblings in fact, have won the last two Plates.

Scatter the Gold, a son of the world-class sire Mr. Prospector from Sam-Son's homebred champion (and Plate winner Dance Smartly) won his maiden in the 2000 edition.

Last year, his full sister, Dancethruthedawn, held off favored Win City to duplicate her dam's feat 10 years earlier.

And with only nine weeks until the 143rd Plate, there's a possibility that Sam-Son will be in the winner's circle again in 2002.

The farm not only has another Mr. Prospector-Dance Smartly 3-year-old in the barn - the colt Dance to Destiny - but also it has several other 3-year-olds with the Plate on their schedule.

"We probably have three or four Plate contenders this year," he said.

Frostad said Ford Every Stream, a sizy, almost-black son of Seeking the Gold out of No Class's daughter Classic Slew, is the farm's best Plate chance based on the colt's impressive debut win at Keeneland last week.

Frostad said Dance to Destiny is a "well-built, large bodied horse" who hasn't been pushed, but the trainer isn't certain the colt will make the Plate. Mountain Beacon, a leggy son of Mt. Livermore, was expected to try for his maiden win at Keeneland on Friday.

While Frostad agrees the Sam-Son breeding program has a seemingly endless supply of well-bred, talented horses, he believes other farms will soon catch up.

"The way Frank Stronach and Eugene Melnyk are foaling mares in Canada now, the competition will get tougher in the next few years," Frostad said.

Some Canadian owners made what Frostad termed "the tactical error" of going to the Kentucky breeding program, "but Mr. Samuel wanted to be a Canadian operation."

o Trainer Roger Attfield purchased a 2-year-old Polish Numbers filly for $100,000 plus a Smart Strike filly, from the immediate family of last year's champion 2-year-old male, Rare Friends, for $250,000 at the recently completed Keeneland April sale.

o Catalogs for Ontario's 2-year-old sale, which the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society will host on May 16, are now available. Among the 87 entries is a colt from the first crop of the exciting young sire Elusive Quality out of the stakes winning mare Citi Sounds. The colt is consigned by Richard Hogan, agent.