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Post Time: Friday racing notebook

By Gene Kershner 

We're only two weekends away from the 154th running of the Queen's Plate, the first jewel of Canada's Triple Crown, which will be held at Woodbine Racetrack just outside Toronto on Sunday, July 7. The mile and a quarter Canadian classic, restricted for 3-year-olds foaled in Canada should once again have a big field of competitors looking to win the Gallop for the Guineas.  

Let's look at some of the top contenders vying for a piece of the $1 million purse:

Dynamic Sky - This Sky Mesa colt spent some time on the Kentucky Derby trail finishing second to Falling Sky in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs and followed that up with a distant fourth place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby behind Verrazano, Java's War and the aforementioned Falling Sky. He will be among the race favorites for trainer Mark Casse and owner John C. Oxley after finishing first in the $150K Plate Trial Stakes, the predominant prep race for the Plate.  Super jockey Joel Rosario was in the irons for the Plate Trial.

His Race to Win - The son of Stormy Atlantic finished a nose behind Dynamic Sky in the Plate Trial after finally breaking his maiden after six tries. Connections will lose jockey Eurico da Silva who will likely ride Up With the Birds, winner of the $168K Marine Stakes. He has never missed the board in  four tries on the all weather Woodbine surface.

Midnight Aria - The son of Midnight Lute, two-time Breeders' Cup Sprint champion, fetched $80K in the Keeneland September 2011 sale.  The colt running for Fort Erie-based trainer Nick Gonzalez finished third in the Plate Trial after giving up the lead at the sixteenth pole.  He finished third in the Wando behind talented colts Pyrite Mountain and Uncaptured. If he peaks at the right time he could be a win threat.

Nipissing - The filly's connections are pondering whether to enter the race after winning the $500K Woodbine Oaks two weeks ago over Spring in the Air, a filly who has a Grade 1 win on her resume. The daughter of 2004 Plate champion Niigon out of a Dixieland Band mare looks to have the  credentials to compete. Two years ago the filly Inglorious won the race coming out of the Oaks. Trainer Rachel Halden will likely have veteran rider Steve Bahen in the irons, who won the 2002 Plate aboard T J's Lucky Moon, should they choose to enter.

Pyrite Mountain - Finished fourth in the Plate Trial after being caught four wide and was only 2 1/2 lengths behind the eventual winner. The Wando winner is trained by Mark Frostad and will likely be ridden by Luis Contreras, winner aboard Inglorious in 2011.

Spring in the Air - This Casse-trained filly won the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland in October with Patrick Husbands aboard. Rosario rode her in the Oaks, but will likely opt aboard Dynamic Sky opening up the mount for Husbands. She's just as dangerous as Nipissing and has the speed figures and pedigree to handle the classic distance. It will be interesting to see if the Casse/Oxley connections will enter her along with Dynamic Sky.

Up With the Birds - the Marine Stakes winner also placed second in the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes on the turf on the opening day of the fall Keeneland meet. Another son of Stormy Atlantic out of a Seeking the Gold mare will be close to the top of the tote board on Plate day.

Belmont TV Ratings

The final television ratings for the Belmont Stakes were down overall when compared to 2012. The Belmont had a 4.5 national rating with a 11 share and 7.0 million viewers. This compared to 4.8/11 and 7.7 million viewers in 2012.

Once again, Buffalo finished with a strong showing, finishing third overall and completing a top 10 finish in all three Triple Crown races. Here's a look at the ratings for the top 10 cities for the Belmont
Stakes:

 City

Rank

Rating

Share

FT.MYERS-NAPLES

1

9.3

18

WEST PALM BEACH

2

8.9

17

BUFFALO

3

8.8

18

LOUISVILLE

4

8.6

17

ORLANDO-DAYTONA BEACH

5

7.6

15

BOSTON

6

7.1

18

JACKSONVILLE

7

6.9

12

RICHMOND

8

6.7

13

NEW YORK

9

6.6

15

ST. LOUIS

10

6.2

15

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

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Horse Racing
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