The countdown to the 2022 Queen’s Plate Stakes at Woodbine continues. Canada’s equivalent to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve is slated to take place Aug. 21, less than two months from now.
The Queen’s Plate is restricted to horses bred in Canada, which means Saturday’s $150,000, Grade 3 Marine Stakes at Woodbine — a race open to all 3-year-old Thoroughbreds regardless of birthplace — can’t be viewed exclusively as a Queen’s Plate prep race. But the 1 1/8-mile Marine is often used as a steppingstone toward the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, and it’s not unheard of for horses to win both races — Shaman Ghost (2015) and Strait of Dover (2011) both achieved the feat within the last decade.
On that note, the 2022 Marine is packed with promising horses bred in Canada. One of the best is #4 Rondure, a key win threat based off two impressive races this season. On May 14, the son of 2013 Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow obliterated the competition in a maiden special weight race, prevailing at seven-eighths of a mile at Woodbine by 10 3/4 lengths. Then on June 12, Rondure finished second at the same track and distance in the Queenston Stakes, beaten by only a head while making up 2 1/2 lengths in the final furlong.
Rondure clearly has talent and a strong stretch kick, so he warrants respect while stretching out to 1 1/16 miles in the Marine. But he’s hardly the only viable win threat in the Marine field. #1 Ironstone, for example, finished just a head behind Rondure when coming home third with a pace-tracking trip in the Queenston. Ironstone has lots of early speed and ran well at 1 1/16 miles when second in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine last fall, so if he escapes with an easy lead on Saturday — there isn’t much pace in the Marine field — he could prove tough to run down.
But the biggest threat to Rondure might be #2 Allegorical. Conditioned by Woodbine’s leading trainer, Mark Casse (who has won two of the last five editions of the Marine), Allegorical ran well to break his maiden at 1 1/16 miles at Woodbine on June 4. The early pace fractions were pedestrian (:25.81, :51.41, and 1:15.28), so the fact Allegorical rallied gamely to win by a neck from off the pace is a testament to his talent.
Allegorical was ridden that day by Patrick Husbands, a 24% winner at Woodbine this meet. According to Brisnet statistics, Husbands has won at a 39% rate teaming up with Casse over the last two months, so it’s safe to say Allegorical has high-profile human connections in his corner.
#6 Duke of Love is another logical contender after finishing fourth in the Queenston, beaten by only 1 1/2 lengths. Like Ironstone, Duke of Love has tactical speed and figures to enjoy a favorable trip setting or stalking a modest pace.
#7 La Macaza can’t be dismissed either. He’s rattled off three straight victories racing 1 1/16 miles at Woodbine, most recently rallying to win a slow-paced $40,000 optional-claiming race by 1 3/4 lengths. Meanwhile, the Casse-trained #8 Mannix can be admired for a determined allowance score racing 1 1/16 miles at Woodbine last time out. Jersey Derby winner #5 Fuerteventura has won three straight and is eligible to challenge in his first Woodbine foray, and even #3 Unraptured shouldn’t be overlooked after finishing fifth with a poor start in the six-furlong Woodstock Stakes at Woodbine.
In short, the Marine Stakes is loaded with viable contenders, and predicting the order of finish is difficult. So how can we bet the race with confidence?
We’ll start by building tickets around the obvious talent of Rondure, counting on him to finish either first or second. Ironstone, Allegorical and Mannix are the others we’ll strongly emphasize in exotic wagers like the exacta and trifecta. Finally, if you want to seek an especially big score, we’ll throw in superfecta tickets using “ALL” for fourth place.
Wagering Strategy on a $15 Budget
$3 exacta: 4 with 1,2,8 ($9)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, Race 9, $3 exacta 4 with 1,2,8 ($9)
$2 exacta: 1,2,8 with 4 ($6)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, Race 9, $2 exacta 1,2,8 with 4 ($6)
Wagering Strategy on a $36 Budget
$2 trifecta: 4 with 1,2,8 with 1,2,8 ($12)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, Race 9, $2 trifecta 4 with 1,2,8 with 1,2,8 ($6)
$2 trifecta: 1,2,8 with 4 with 1,2,8 ($12)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, Race 9, $2 trifecta 1,2,8 with 4 with 1,2,8 ($6)
$0.20 superfecta: 4 with 1,2,8 with 1,2,8 with ALL ($6)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, Race 9, $1 superfecta 4 with 1,2,8 with 1,2,8 with ALL ($6)
$0.20 superfecta: 1,2,8 with 4 with 1,2,8 with ALL ($6)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, Race 9, $1 superfecta 1,2,8 with 4 with 1,2,8 with ALL ($6)
Good luck, and enjoy the race!