03/08/2012 12:05PM

Woodbine: Dixie Strike winter-book favorite for Queen's Plate

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Dixie Strike, who is a half-sister to last year’s Queen’s Plate winner Inglorious, has been made the 4-1 favorite in this year’s Queen’s Plate winter book.

The hypothetical winter book, compiled for the first time by Daily Racing Form ’s Ron Gierkink and Bill Tallon, lists odds for the 117 Canadian-bred 3-year-olds who remained eligible for the Queen’s Plate as of Feb. 1.

The $1 million Queen’s Plate, the 1 1/4-mile race that is the first leg of Canada’s Triple Crown, will be run here at Woodbine on June 24.

Dixie Strike, who is owned by John Oxley and conditioned by Mark Casse, concluded her first campaign with an emphatic score here in the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Lassie. After returning to action with on Feb. 14 with a win in the Florida Oaks over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Tampa Bay Downs, Dixie Strike has continued to train forwardly at Palm Meadows in Florida and has been entered in Sunday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Herecomesthebride, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park.

Menlo Castle, who won Woodbine’s seven-furlong Simcoe and finished second in both the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity and 1 1/16-mile Display, is the second choice at 9-2. Owned by Conor Healy and trained by Ralph Biamonte, Menlo Castle is wintering at Crupi’s New Castle Farm in the Ocala. Fla., area.

Hard Not to Like, a homebred filly who races for Garland Williamson and is trained by Gail Cox, is the third choice at 6-1. Although all five of her juvenile starts came on turf, Hard Not to Like showed considerable ability with wins over males in two races, including Woodbine’s Cup and Saucer and a close fifth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs. Hard Not to Like is preparing for her 3-year-old campaign at Payson Park in Florida.

Northern Passion, another Oxley-Casse runner, is listed at 8-1. Winner of the Natalma here over one mile of turf as a 2-year-old, Northern Passion disappointed when trying dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies but returned with a closing fourth-place finish behind Dixie Strike in the Florida Oaks and also has been training at Palm Meadows.

Rounding out the top five at 10-1 is Aldous Snow, who closed belatedly to finish fourth in the Coronation Futurity. Owned by Sam-Son Farm, Aldous Snow is wintering with trainer Malcolm Pierce at the Fair Grounds.

Conspicuous by his absence from this year’s list of Queen’s Plate nominees is Maritimer, who won both the Coronatiion Futurity and Display but was sold privately early this winter and is in Dubai preparing for an appearance in the March 31 UAE Derby.

Supplementary Plate nominations at a cost of $5,000 can be made by May 1, when the next payment of $1,500 also is due for current nominees. Entry-day supplements also will be accepted at a cost of $25,000, which includes the $10,000 entry fee.

The complete list of nominees with odds is available at queensplate.com.