07/04/2014 10:57AM

We Miss Artie solid choice in Queen's Plate

Tom Keyser
We Miss Artie is unbeaten on Polytrack, including a pair of graded stakes in the United States.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – We Miss Artie appeared to have plenty in reserve when he won the Plate Trial Stakes under North America’s top rider, Javier Castellano, and a peak performance seems forthcoming when he goes favored Sunday at Woodbine in the $1 million Queen’s Plate.

The 155th running of the Plate drew 15 Canadian-bred 3-year-olds who will negotiate 1 1/4 miles on Polytrack. There are three graded turf stakes on the superb 13-race card as well: the $200,000 Dance Smartly, the $200,000 Highlander, and the $150,000 Singspiel. Post time for the first race is noon Eastern.

The Plate is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. It will be followed by the $500,000 Prince of Wales at 1 3/16 miles on dirt at Fort Erie on July 27 and the $500,000 Breeders’ at 1 1/2 miles on grass here Aug. 17. All three races will be broadcast on The Sports Network, and TSN’s Plate coverage is from 4:30-6 p.m. on Sunday. Post time for the Plate is 5:38 p.m.

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We Miss Artie, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, is unbeaten on Polytrack, highlighted by victories in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity and the Grade 3 Spiral. He split the field when 10th in the Kentucky Derby and is exiting a three-quarter-length score here in the June 15 Plate Trial.

Castellano said he thought he was on the best horse in the nine-furlong Trial and certainly rode the Todd Pletcher-trained We Miss Artie with a lot of confidence.

“Unfortunately, he didn’t break that sharp, but I took my time and schooled him a little bit behind horses and let him settle,” Castellano said. “My target [was] the Queen’s Plate, and I wanted to give him a good education. Turning for home, when I asked him, he gave me a good kick, a good acceleration.”

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Trainer Mark Casse’s threesome of Lexie Lou, Matador, and Majestic Sunset are all in with a shot.

Lexie Lou will try to become the 35th filly to win the Canadian classic. She captured the nine-furlong Woodbine Oaks decisively in a time that was about a second faster than We Miss Artie’s clocking 40 minutes earlier in the Plate Trial. Lexie Lou earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure, the co-highest in the entire Plate field and 10 points higher than We Miss Artie’s figure for his Plate Trial win.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 14 Lexie Lou. Trainer Mark Casse is 8 for 26 with a $2.56 ROI over the past five years with fillies and mares in synthetic routes coming of a winning effort.Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Casse said he’s pleased with the progress made by Lexie Lou, who was purchased privately in the spring by Hollywood producer Gary Barber.

“We’ve found out some things about Lexie,” Casse said. “We’re going to keep doing the same thing and hope it works out just as well. I don’t have any concerns about her going a mile and a quarter.”

Matador was on the Kentucky Derby trail before returning here in May, when he captured a 1 1/16-mile allowance by six lengths with an 85 Beyer.

“He won his last race really easy,” Casse said.

Majestic Sunset will try to become the first maiden to win the Plate since Scatter the Gold in 2000. Normally a closer, he set a slow pace in the Plate Trial before giving way grudgingly.

“I see him being pretty close to the lead,” Casse said. “He’s not going to be very far from it.”

Several of the protagonists from the May 25 Marine Stakes are in the lineup, most notably Ami’s Holiday, who was cut off in the stretch before finishing a close third. Asserting Bear was disqualified from first to third for interference, and Tower of Texas wound up fourth.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 15 Ami’s Holiday. Trainer Josie Carroll is 8 for 31 with a $3.45 ROI over the past five years in synthetic routes at Woodbine with horses making their third start after a layoff.Click for more details. Mike Hogan

“He had a very troubled trip,” trainer Josie Carroll said of Ami’s Holiday, who was placed second in the Marine. “Watching the way he finished and galloped out is what cemented in my mind that we had a Queen’s Plate contender.”

Off a third-place finish in the Plate Trial, Tower of Texas will try to give trainer Roger Attfield a record-breaking ninth Plate victory.

Heart to Heart put up a 92 Beyer in his gate-to-wire triumph in a one-mile allowance on grass at Keeneland. He has been idle since finishing sixth in the 1 1/16-mile Marine.

Chiefswood Stable won the 2004 Plate with Niigon, who is the sire of its entrant, Niigon Express. Niigon Express upset Coltimus Prime in a May 11 Ontario-sired allowance and then rallied for second in a nine-furlong allowance June 15.

“He’s got a long, steady kick,” said trainer Paul Attard. “I’m hoping a lot of these horses can’t go a mile and a quarter and that he’ll be running on at the end.”

Coltimus Prime prevailed in a nine-furlong Ontario-sired allowance June 8 after the leading Athenian Guard ducked in and lost his rider in the stretch. He could lead the way under Jesse Campbell, who won last year’s Plate going coast-to-coast on Midnight Aria.

◗ The Jackpot Hi 5 carryover is $262,596, and there will be a mandatory payout on the wager on the Queen’s Plate itself. The 20-cent base bet requires the selection of the top five finishers in order.