June 24, 2011

On Sunday, Canada’s premier 3-year-old race—the Queen’s Plate—will be contested at Woodbine in Toronto. First run in 1860, the 2011 edition features a full field of 17 starters, including the lone filly representative in Inglorious, winner of the recent Woodbine Oaks, and trained by previous Queen’s Plate winner (with Edenwold in 2006) Josie Carroll.

Inglorious' 2011 Woodbine Oaks victory

Not surprisingly considering the number of high-quality fillies (Rags to Riches, Eight Belles, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta) that have emerged in recent years to run competitively against their male counterparts, fillies have performed extremely well in the last three editions of the Queen’s Plate, with Ginger Brew running second a mere head behind Not Bourbon in 2008; Milwaukee Brew and Tasty Temptation finished third and fourth respectively in 2009, while Roan Inish ran third last year.

In fact, 33 fillies have won this race over the years—the last being Dancethruthedawn in 2001—and a number of others have been among the top three place getters. Here’s a brief look at some of the best:

Young Kitty (Old Koenig out of Gallant Kitty, by Havoc)
When Young Kitty captured the 1928 King’s Plate, it was by an emphatic 12 lengths. She also won the Breeders’ Stakes that year, as well as the Connaught Cup during her 4-year-old campaign. In 1935, her half-sister Gay Sympathy (Solace) won the Breeders’, but finished third in the King’s Plate; their dam Gallant Kitty was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame for her broodmare prowess in 1977.

Queensway (Old Koenig out of Chrysoberil, by Verdun)
Although not formally recognized until 1959, the three races that make up the Canadian Triple Crown (Queen’s Plate, Prince of Wales, and Breeders’ Stakes) were all captured in the span of just two weeks in 1932 by the legendary filly Queensway. Known as the King’s Plate in those days, the classic had been won by Queensway’s half-brother Froth Blower (Cudgel) the previous year; big brother had also won the Breeders’ Stakes. In 2003, Queensway was inducted in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. 

Canadiana (Chop Chop out of Iribelle, by Osiris)
On the very day of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, Canadiana captured the newly renamed Queen’s Plate with American jockey Eddie Arcaro aboard. That summer she also won the Test, and finished second in both the Gazelle and Diana, a fitting campaign for Canada’s reigning Horse of the Year, won as the result of a dominating juvenile season. Canadiana’s unraced younger half sister Victoriana (Windfields) fared farther better than her sister in the breeding shed, producing 1960 Queen’s Plate winner (and Horse of the Year) Victoria Park—who had also finished second in the Preakness and third in the Kentucky Derby. Another Victoriana daughter Northern Queen (Nearctic) captured the 1965 Canadian Oaks, while other family descendants include English St. Leger runner-up High Accolade, True North victor Explicit, and 1968 Canadian Horse of the Year Viceregal and his full brother, leading sire Vice Regent who produced, among others, the great sire Deputy Minister and 1988 Queen’s Plate winner Regal Intention.

Jammed Lovely (Jamie K. out of Eolia, by Brick)
A daughter of Belmont Stakes runner-up Jamie K. (who finished a mere neck behind the great Native Dancer), Jammed Lovely won the 1967 Queen’s Plate—the same year her owner Conn Smythe captured the Stanley Cup with his Toronto Maple Leafs, and, interestingly, the last time the Leafs have won the Cup. Disliking the sloppy track, Jammed Lovely had finished second in the Oaks, so her Plate victory came as a surprise. As a broodmare, she produced multiple stakes winner Lovely Sunrise (Grey Dawn) who won the 1975 Autumn Handicap against males.

Fanfreluche (Northern Dancer out of Ciboulette, by Chop Chop)
Runner-up in the 1970 Queen’s Plate, Fanfreluche captured the Alabama, Gazelle and Spinster during her 3-year-old campaign, en route to winning 11 of 21 lifetime starts. Sent off to broodmare duty, her very first foal L’Enjoleur (Buckpasser) captured both the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales, but was upset by the filly Momigi in the Breeders’ Stakes, although he was still named 1975 Canadian Horse of the Year. Her fourth foal La Voyageuse (Tentam) counted the Canadian Oaks and open company Nearctic Stakes among her 26 lifetime victories, while her unraced daughter L’On Vite (Secretariat) produced, among others, dual Group 1 winner Holy Roman Emperor.

Northernette (Northern Dancer out of South Ocean, by New Providence)
Champion juvenile filly in Canada, Northernette won the 1977 Canadian Oaks just as her dam had before her, but could only manage a runner-up finish to Sound Reason in the Queen’s Plate; as a 4-year-old, she captured the Apple Blossom and Top Flight. Her daughter Scoot (Mr. Prospector) won the G1 Flower Bowl, but Northernette is probably better known as a full sister of the great sire Storm Bird.

Dance Smartly's 1991 Queen's Plate victory

Dance Smartly (Danzig out of Classy ‘N Smart, by Smarten)
Talk about racing royalty! Regally-bred Classy ‘N Smart won the Canadian Oaks, but her achievements on the race track were overshadowed by her champion half-brothers—Sky Classic (Nijinsky), Regal Classic (Vice Regent), and Grey Classic (Grey Dawn). Another half-sister Classic Reign (Vice Regent) finished second against males in the 1991 Breeders’ Stakes.

Recognized as the first filly winner of Canada’s Triple Crown, Dance Smartly easily defeated Wilderness Song in the Canadian Oaks in the period leading up to the 1991 Plate—and then conquered her female nemesis again, this time by eight lengths, in the Plate itself. In the second leg, the Prince of Wales, Wilderness Song led early but tired to finish fifth while Dance Smartly drew off to win by two lengths. Wilderness Song sat out the final leg, the Breeders’ Stakes, leaving Dance Smartly as the lone filly entrant against nine male competitors—and she never looked back, crushing the field by eight lengths. The next time the two fillies hooked up was the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs, which Dance Smartly easily captured while Wilderness Song finished seventh. 

Dance Smartly's Triple Crown win in Breeders' Stakes

In her 17 career starts, Dance Smartly won 12 times—and never finished worse than third. As a broodmare, she’s been spectacular, foaling back-to-back Queen’s Plate winners in Scatter the Gold (2000) and Dancethruthedawn (2001). Interestingly, her half-brother Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector) is the broodmare sire of Inglorious.

Dancethruthedawn's 2001 Queen's Plate victory



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