There are few people who better understand and appreciate the prestige and significance of the $1-million Queen’s Plate than Rob Landry.
The general manager of Chiefswood Stables won Canada’s most prestigious race in 2004 for Chiefswood aboard Niigon. So the 58-year-old Toronto native admits it wasn’t an easy decision to have Weyburn, a top contender for the ‘21 Plate, skip the 1 1/4-mile race slated for Woodbine Racetrack’s Tapeta course Aug. 22.
Weyburn is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 US$600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes, a 1 1/8-mile dirt race, at Saratoga on July 31.
“It’s coming back in three weeks,” Landry said. “He’s a really, really nice horse and we don’t want to do anything to force him back into a race.
“It (Jim Dandy) was a hard race on him and he’s never been on the synthetic track before. As much as you’d like to win it (Plate), you’ve got to do what’s right for the horse.”
Landry, who was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2014, said he continues to look at all existing options for Weyburn. That includes a potential appearance in the $400,000 Prince of Wales Stakes.
The second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, a 1 3/16-mile race on Fort Erie Racetrack’s dirt surface, is scheduled for Sept. 14.
“I watched him train (Tuesday morning at Saratoga) and he trained well,” Landry said. “We’re trying to make him a stallion in the U.S. and most people are looking for dirt horses so that’s kind of the direction we’re going to look, for now.
“We’ve not ruled out the Prince of Wales.”
Weyburn has a win, one second- and two fourth-place finishes in four starts this year. He has two victories and two second-place efforts in seven lifetime races, all of which have been on dirt
While the absence of Weyburn will certainly open up the Plate, it will also rob the race of some of its star appeal. Last week, Weyburn was listed atop the Queen’s Plate power rankings and in March the horse was listed as the early 3-1 Winterbook favourite.
“I thought he ran well (in Jim Dandy) but I don’t think he ran the style he really wants to run,” Landry said. “We had a different rider on him (Irad Ortiz Jr.) and he rode him well but I think it would’ve maybe been helpful had (Ortiz) ridden him before.”
Landry said Chiefswood Stables’ decision not to run Weyburn in the Plate wasn’t impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve been able to navigate,” he said. “The horses haven’t had trouble coming across the border.
“That wouldn’t be a factor at all.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2021.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press