06/12/2012 1:13PM

Woodbine notes: Queen's Plate weekend gets new twist


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Woodbine is adding a new wrinkle to Queen’s Plate week this year as entries for the cards of both Saturday, June 23, and Sunday, June 24, will be drawn on Wednesday.

The exception will be the June 24 Queen’s Plate itself, as the entry box for the 1/4-mile showpiece for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds will remain open until 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.

The field will be announced and post positions drawn at the traditional Queen’s Plate breakfast and the outmoded two-tiered process under which the connections of entrants have the opportunity to choose their post positions will remain in effect.

“The races should be run as scheduled on each day,” said Steve Lym, racing secretary and a director of racing for the Woodbine Entertainment Group.

“If – and only if – we fall short for Sunday we will then move races around to make a full card and have the strongest card possible.

Sunday’s blockbuster program could include up to 12 races with a supporting cast of five stakes: the $250,000 King Edward, the $200,000 Highlander, the $150,000 Singspiel, the $150,000 My Dear, and the $100,000 Trillium..

Lym added that drawing the balance of Sunday’s program one day earlier than usual should make for a less-hectic Thursday in the race office.

“Thursday’s a busy day to begin with,” said Lym. “We have a process where we put out a glossy program for Queen’s Plate Day, and we can get almost all of that done on Wednesday.

“I’m trying to ease the pain of my staff – the oddsmaker, proofing it, everything like that. We now have more time.

“We can get everything else done on Wednesday, and just stick the Plate in on Thursday and it’s done.”

Rider assignments juggled

As of Tuesday morning, the field for the Queen’s Plate was ranging from 14 t0 the 17-horse maximum allowed for the 1 1/4-mile distance.

If the Queen’s Plate did happen to oversubscribe, then participation would be based on lifetime earnings for all entrants, including supplements.

Some jockey assignments for the Queen’s Plate also were up in the air, partly because several American riders probably will be in town for mounts on shippers in the King Edward, Highlander, and Singspiel, the three turf stakes for 3-year-olds and upward.

Roger Attfield has lined up John Velazquez to ride Colleen’s Sailor in the Queen’s Plate, Forte dei Marmi in the King Edward, and Musketier in the Singspiel.

Ramon Dominguez also is scheduled to be here and has the mount on Big Creek, who is based at Saratoga with trainer Todd Pletcher, for the Queen’s Plate.

Big Creek finished fourth behind River Rush, Incredicat, and Classic Bryce in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial here June 3.

River Rush and Classic Bryce are Queen’s Plate-bound, but Incredicat, who lead to the eighth pole in the Plate Trial, is scheduled to make his next appearance in the six-furlong Achievement Stakes here July 2.

Woodbine’s top six riders heading into Wednesday’s card all had Queen’s Plate mounts, with Patrick Husbands signed on for Dixie Strike, Luis Contreras on Golden Ridge, Emma-Jayne Wilson on Macho Whiskey, Justin Stein on Strait of Dover, Eurico Rosa da Silva on Making Amends, and Steven Bahen on Ultimate Destiny.

Other locally based jockeys with Queen’s Plate commitments were Jim McAleney, River Rush; Alex Solis, Woodbine Oaks winner Irish Mission; and Richard Dos Ramos, Prince Raphael.

Big Band Sound may stretch

The Grade 2 one-mile King Edward attracted 29 nominees, several of whom also are on the list of 17 for the Grade 2 Highlander at six furlongs.

Big Band Sound is one of the cross-nominees, but his trainer, Danny Vella, is learning toward the longer trip of the King Edward.

In his two starts at this meeting Big Band Sound has finished second in both the Grade 3 Vigil over seven furlongs on Polytrack and the Grade 2 Connaught Cup over seven furlongs on turf.

Something Extra, the Connaught winner for trainer Gail Cox, and Artic Fern, third in the Connaught for trainer Mike Keogh, also are listed for both the Connaught Cup and Highlander with decisions pending.

Gypsy Ring, an Ontario-sired 5-year-old, missed by just a neck as the third-place finisher when he last tried turf in the Grade 1 Nearctic here last October.

Owned, trained, and bred by Paul Buttigieg, Gypsy Ring has won the restricted five-furlong Debut and the restricted New Providence at six furlongs.

Musketier out for three-peat

The Grade 3, $150,000 Singspiel at 1 1/2 miles lured 18 nominees.

Musketier, age 10, should be seeking his third consecutive Singspiel score and could be joined by his 7-year-old stablemate Simmard.

Other locally-based probables include City Wolf, a 5-year-old horse whom trainer Reade Baker has been looking to try going long on the grass.

Big Red Mike recorded his first win since the 2010 Queen’s Plate in the June 2 Singspiel prep, which was taken off the turf and run over 1 1/4 miles.

But assistant trainer Martha Gonzalez said that Big Red Mike could skip the Singspiel and take advantage of the extra week leading up to the Grade 2, $200,000 Dominion Day Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on the main track.

The My Dear, a five-furlong stakes for Ontario-foaled 2-year-old drew 20 nominees.

The leading locally based contenders for the My Dear are Just Got In, who is trained by Ricky Griffith, and Leinan, from the barn of Josie Carroll.

Both fillies are 1 for 1 with Just Got In’s win coming at 4 1/2 furlongs here May 25 and Leinan’s at Keeeneland over the same distance on April 27,

Leinan breezed four furlongs on the main track in 48.60 seconds here Tuesday morning.

The Trillium, a 1 1/16 mile race for fillies and mares, is an overnight stakes and will require a field of at least five to be carded.

The nominations for the Trillium will be released later this week.

Spearman back to work

Veteran jockey agent Lorne Spearman is back at Woodbine and is representing apprentice jockey Jeffrey Alderson after taking a leave of absence last fall for health reasons.

Spearman, 57, has had a noteworthy portfolio clients which includes Sandy Hawley, Chantal Sutherland, Irwin Driedger, Robert Landry, and Richard Dos Ramos.