By Gene Kershner
As we shift away from the American Triple Crown trail after last weekend's disappointing fourth-place finish by California Chrome, we can look to our neighbors to the north to get the Canadian Triple Crown revved up for another summer. On Sunday afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack in suburban Toronto, the $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes restricted to Ontario-bred 3-year-olds, will serve as the key prep race for the opening leg of Canada's Triple Crown.
A field of seven horses will head postward, including Kentucky Derby starter We Miss Artie, seeking a valuable race over the Woodbine Polytrack before next month's Queen's Plate scheduled for Sunday July 6. We Miss Artie finished 10th in the Derby, 8 1/4-lengths behind the horse who attempted to complete the 12th Triple Crown in history last Saturday at Belmont Park.
The field also includes horses from last year's winning trainer Nick Gonzalez, 2013 Sovereign winning trainer Mark Casse and eight-time Plate winning trainer Roger Attfield. While the trainers may be top-quality, the field, other than Ramsey's colt, is much to be desired.
The Plate Trial is on the undercard for the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, a race that has produced several Plate contenders in the past few years.
Let's take a look at the field:
1 - Rhythm Blues (Husbands, N Gonzalez) - The son of Tale of a Cat will try and catapult Gonzalez into the Plate with a chance to repeat last year's Plate win by Midnight Aria. He's run two decent allowance races in his last two, but has some work to do against this field. He broke badly at Keeneland two back and finished strongly, but still needs to improve quite a bit to challenge the favorite.
2 - We Miss Artie (Castellano, Pletcher) - Javier ships in to ride the Breeders' Futurity and Spiral winner, the only graded stakes winner in the field. Ridden by an Eclipse winning jockey, he has both Eclipse winning owners and a five-time Eclipse winning trainer. Do I need to go on? The one to beat.
3 - Man Cave (Campbell, Brnjas) - Last year's Plate-winning jock Jesse Campbell jumps aboard this colt who faltered in his only race against stakes company, finishing sixth in the Display Stakes. Patrick Husbands jumps off to ride Rhythm Blues, enough of a signal for me to stay away.
4 - Ascot Martin (Contreras, Keogh) - The son of Seeking the Dia is still seeking his first victory finishing second twice in four maiden races. Other than Contreras aboard, I'm not seeing many more positives about this one.
5 - Tower of Texas (Boulanger, Attfield) - When I ran into Attfield at Gulfstream in January, I inquired if he had any Plate horses and this is the one that he spoke of first. A $195K purchase at Keeneland, the son of the 2007 Derby winner Street Sense certainly has the breeding to get the Plate distance. He ran an impressive fourth in the Marine Stakes losing by only a length. He's a contender for place or show spots.
6 - Majestic Sunset (Garcia, Casse) - Another maiden in the field who has yet to win in eight races. His running lines look to be more favorable in his 2-year-old season where he finished second behind Asserting Bear in the Coronation Stakes. Garcia aboard is a bonus, but enough to crack the top three?
7 - Man o' Bear (Wilson, Baker) - Son of 2007 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile champion Corinthian, he comes in off a long layoff since the Coronation in November. His work tab looks like he's fit, but probably needs this one to ready for the Plate. He's been competitive in all five of his career races and get Emma Jane in the irons. Best of the rest.
Post Time Outlook: 1 - We Miss Artie; 2 - Man o' Bear and; 3 - Tower of Texas