05/31/2012 1:43PM

Woodbine: Strait of Dover headed straight to Queen's Plate


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Strait of Dover, who would have been a solid choice here in Sunday’s Plate Trial, now will be heading straight to the Queen’s Plate.

“We pulled another blood on him [Friday] morning, and it was not a whole lot better,” said trainer Danny Vella, who had been put on alert when the results of a blood test on Thursday were not satisfactory. “It looks like he’s trying to come down with something.

“We’ll back off him for a week, and he’ll be fine. He’ll have two big works before the Plate.”

Vella had been debating whether to race Strait of Dover in the Plate Trial or await the June 24 Queen’s Plate after the British Columbia-bred won the 1 1/16 mile Marine Stakes in very impressive fashion here May 12.

But, after watching Strait of Dover breeze on Monday, Vella had planned to run the colt this Sunday.

“We said we’d let him tell us what to do, and he did,” said Vella. “It’s better this happened now than in three weeks.”

Beeker Street the early pick

In Strait of Dover’s absence, Woodbine’s oddsmaker, Ernie Perri, has made Beeker Street the 5-2 favorite in the Plate Trial’s field of 10.

Beeker Street is 2 for 2, with both races coming at seven furlongs, including the May 5 Queenston Stakes.

The homebred colt is owned by Donver Stable and trained by Josie Carroll, the connections behind last year’s Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate winner, Inglorious.

Classic Bryce, runner-up in both the 1 1/16-mile Wando and in the Marine in his two starts this season, has been made the 3-1 second choice.

Darwin Banach trains the Bill Sorokolit homebred and Luis Contreras has the call.

Big Creek, third in the Wando for trainer Todd Pletcher, is next in line at 7-2. Emma-Jayne Wilson retains the mount.

Making Amends (second), Menlo Castle (fourth), Peyton (fifth), and Dead On (seventh) all exit the Queenston.

Perfect Tay was fourth when making his local debut in the Wando.

Incredicat won the Wando but finished last of six in the Marinem while Drago’s Best, who also is trained by Carroll, won his maiden and a first-level allowance in two sprint starts here this spring.

River Rush, who is a maiden after two starts, completes the field.

Pierce barn heating up

Trainer Malcolm Pierce’s barn has picked up the pace recently, with three wins from their last six starters heading into Friday’s program.

Cognashene, Bigstormbrewin’, and Strike Red all landed allowance races for Pierce, and Sam-Son Farm and the team will be represented by starters in two stakes races here this weekend.

First up will be Forest Uproar, who will face five rivals in Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Nassau at one mile on the turf course.

On Sunday, Dead On will be looking to establish his Queen’s Plate credentials in the Plate Trial.

Pierce originally had planned to bypass the Nassau in favor of the $100,000 Zadracarta, a seven-furlong turf race for Ontario-foaled fillies and mares here June 16.

But when Pierce learned that the Nassau was coming up light in numbers he entered Forest Uproar just before the 11:30 deadline here Wednesday morning.

“We can’t pass up an opportunity like this to try to get her graded stakes-placed. She doesn’t have that yet,” said Pierce. “She’s already a minor stakes winner.”

Multiple stakes winners Marketing Mix, Inglorious, and Roxy Gap are the leading contenders in the field of seven entered for the Nassau.

Trainer Mark Casse also had been looking at next Saturday’s Grade 1 Just A Game for Roxy Gap but elected to keep the filly on her home grounds.

Forest Uproar last saw action at Keeeneland on April 11 when she checked in fifth, beaten 2 1/4 lengths, in a one-mile turf allowance that was won by Marketing Mix with Inglorious second.

Dead On starts with a win

Dead On, who won his maiden at seven furlongs in his second of three starts here last year, launched his current campaign with a good second-place finish under first-level allowance terms at the Fair Grounds.

That 1 1/16-mile race was taken off the turf and Dead On was beaten a neck, with his entrymate Aldous Snow 11 lengths back in eighth place.

Returning to Woodbine, Dead On shortened up for the Queenston Stakes and was beaten four lengths after being right up with the pace early.

“We kind of just took him out of his element, cutting back to seven-eighths and letting him run out of the gate,” said Pierce.

Todd Kabel, aboard for the first time that day, will be back in the irons for the Plate Trial.

“This is our last shot to see whether he belongs in the Plate,” said Pierce.

“If he pops up and runs his race, we’ll go on to the Plate. If he doesn’t we might just wait for the Prince of Wales. We know he likes the dirt.”

The $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, which follows the Queen’s Plate as the second leg of Canada’s triple crown, will be run over 1 3/16 miles on Fort Erie’s dirt surface on July 15.

Aldous Snow a puzzler

Aldous Snow had rebounded from his indifferent New Orleans performance with a third-place finish in a first-level allowance over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Keeneland on May 27,

Last Sunday, Aldous Snow was back on Polytrack here for a first-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles that lured four potential Queen’s Plate candidates.

Racing with blinkers for the first time, Aldous Snow stalked on the inside through a slow pace and wound up fourth, beaten 1 1/4 lengths.

“We didn’t really learn a whole lot,” said Pierce. “He saved all the ground, and had no excuses. I think he ran his race.

“We all know he’s going to be a better horse on turf, but for $1 million we’re going to have to discuss the Queen’s Plate.”

Television coverage in place

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will be televising the Woodbine Oaks and the Plate Trial in a live 90-minute show beginning at 4:30 p.m.

The CBC’s Scott Russell will host the telecast, with Woodbine’s Jim Bannon and Jeff Bratt providing analysis. The CBC’s Brenda Irving and Woodbine’s Sandy Hawley and Reinee Kierans will be roving reporters.

Mike Dodson will produce the show and Chris Elias is the director.

The Plate Trial is scheduled to go at 4:42 p.m. as the eighth of 10 races on a card which that at 1:05 p.m.

Post time for the Woodbine Oaks is set for 5:17 p.m. with the last race scheduled for 5:59 p.m.

TVG also will be sending up a production crew for coverage of Woodbine’s entire weekend of racing.

Simon Bray will be on site for TVG and will be joined by Woodbine’s Jason Portuondo.