By TimeformUS Analyst Justin Finch
Any day that has the Queen’s Plate as its centerpiece is a day that is going to find us in good spirits. For three-year-olds foaled in Canada, the Queen’s Plate will be run at 10 furlongs on Polytrack, and at time of writing, there are 15 horses to contend with. The favorite on the morning line, at 8-5, is We Miss Artie. As is quite often the case in races with big fields, the TFUS Pace Projector is projecting this race to be run at a fast pace. The field size in cases such as this one is a double-edged sword. Yes, the more horses in the starting gate, the more likely it is that some of them will go blasting out of the starting gate at a fast pace, which in theory will help the closers. On the other hand, each individual closer will be obliged to work out a trip in this huge field, and that, of course, can prove problematic.
The Pace Projector shows Heart to Heart on a clear lead at the opening half-mile. Asserting Bear is a stalking second (a rather unsettling image, that one). They are followed, in close order, by the filly Lexie Lou and Lions Bay. By the Pace Projector’s reckoning, the rest of the field is composed of horses who will find themselves in roles ranging from stalkers to deep closers.
The horses getting the bulk of our attention in this year’s edition of the Queen’s Plate are We Miss Artie, Matador, Lexie Lou, and Ami’s Holiday.
We Miss Artie: The trip that this Todd Pletcher-trained colt received in the Plate Trial reminds us of the chart comments that top pacers like Cam Fella occasionally receive. Let’s try it in seven words: “Locked, free, out and up, under wraps.” In races that are run at a mild pace, as the Plate Trial was, top horses who receive this sort of trip often fail to run speed figures that do justice to their abilities. And we believe that to be the case here. We Miss Artie received a speed figure of 91 for this victory. That’s a strong number, to be sure, but it’s well off his synthetic top of 98, and we are proceeding based on our judgment that We Miss Artie had quite a bit more to give on that day. He is three for three lifetime on synthetic surfaces. He looks like a colt who can grapple with a 10th furlong. Todd Pletcher is not at his best at Woodbine, but his numbers are adequate there (a rating of 77), and he gets ratings of 92 with spacing comparable to today’s and 97 when attempting repeat victories. We Miss Artie is an obvious contender who figures to go off at an unappetizing price.
Matador: Something of an underachiever, thus far he has proven unable to live up to the ambitions his connections have for him. However, his victory in an entry-level allowance in May was visually impressive, and he earned a powerful speed figure of 97. Is he finally coming into his own? At morning line odds of 8-1, that possibility is a fairly enticing one. And the Pace Projector shows him racing well off the possibly destructive early pace. He is a threat for the high-powered Casse barn.
Lexie Lou: Where did that last race come from, and what are the chances that she can repeat it on three weeks’ rest? Her Woodbine Oaks was a smashing performance. After missing some training due to a physical setback, she forced a strong pace from the outside, entered the first turn three-wide, recorded pace figures of 117 117 105, earned a speed figure of 98 (an 11-point new top), and scuttled a good field of fillies in the process. She is bred to handle the distance, and she figures to be a better price than We Miss Artie. But can she manage a trip that both keeps her clear of a possibly destructive pace and keeps her away from the parking lot on the turns?
Ami’s Holiday: Was roughed up pretty badly in the Marine but still managed to make a small move through her two-year-old top of 90. Now she goes third off the layoff, and she’s 10-1 on the morning line.
The play: There are a few ways to go here, but our inclination is to sink or swim with the filly–on the grounds that a repeat of her last race will probably get it done in here, and her odds will be high enough to justify taking the risk that she bounces off her breathtaking performance of three weeks ago. Win bet on Lexie Lou. Protect with an exacta under We Miss Artie. Sprinkle Matador and Ami’s Holiday lightly over the bottom holes of the trifecta.