TORONTO — Mark Casse will look to triple his Queen’s Plate pleasure Saturday.
Casse will send two solid entries postward at Woodbine Racetrack. Filly Wonder Gadot headlines the five-horse field in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks while Telekinesis makes his Toronto oval debut in the $125,000 Plate Trial Stakes.
Both aim to punch their tickets to the $1-million Queen’s Plate, the opening jewel of Canada’s Triple Crown on June 30 at Woodbine. They’ll look to join Flameaway, another Casse-trained horse that ran in the 2018 Kentucky Derby.
Telekinesis, Flameaway and Wonder Gadot held the top three spots in the Winterbook, a hypothetical listing that offered early odds on the 109 three-year-olds — 95 colts and geldings, 14 fillies — nominated to the ‘18 Canadian Triple Crown.
Casse captured his first Queen’s Plate in 2014 with Lexie Lou after she won the Oaks, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara, earlier that year.
Ontario-bred Wonder Gadot, Canada’s champion two-year-old filly, was second by a half-length to Monomoy in the US$1-million Kentucky Oaks on May 4. That’s the best finish by a Canadian-bred horse in the race since Gal in A Ruckus won in 1995.
Wonder Gadot, named after Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot, made her lone start on Woodbine’s main track last fall, winning the 1 1/16-mile, Grade 3 Mazarine by six lengths.
“She’s super, she’s doing really well,” said Casse. “We kind of all along felt like Tapeta was her preferred surface.
“Obviously, at this point in time she doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody training-wise but she’s got over it good.”
Wonder Gadot ran on turf her first two outings, winning the prep for the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes before finishing third in the Natalma. After winning the Mazarine, Wonder Gadot was sixth in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
This year, Wonder Gadot has been in the money in all five of her starts.
“We’re kind of from the old school,” said Casse. “If they’re doing good, we’re going to run them.
“She’s a big, strong mare and she likes what she does.”
Patrick Husbands, who rode Wonder Gadot in her first four starts, regains the mount Saturday. Husbands and Casse have combined for three Oaks wins — Lexie Lou (2014), Sealy Hill (2007) and Kimchi (2006).
Telekinesis is expected to be a solid choice in the seven-horse Plate Trial despite making his first Woodbine appearance with just three starts to his credit.
“He’s an exceptional horse,” Casse said.
“We’ve felt early on, even as a two-year-old, that he was head of the class but he had some minor setbacks.
“The Queen’s Plate has always been a big goal.”
Following his victorious six-furlong opener, Telekinesis stretched out to 1 1/16 miles and was third behind two older rivals. Telekinesis left Keeneland in late May and raised eyebrows in his first breeze on the Tapeta, going in 45.40 seconds under new rider Husbands.
“We feel he likes the Tapeta just fine,” said Casse, who won the ‘13 Plate Trial with Dynamic Sky.
Husbands won Plate Trials with Check Your Soul in 2011 and Pete’s Sake in 2000.
Stronach Stables’ Silent Sting and the John Ross-trained Aheadbyacentury will look to spoil Telekinesis’ coming-out party.
Silent Sting, trained by Sid Attard, won his last race, the seven-furlong Queenston for Ontario-breds April 22.
“He’s not a big horse,” said Attard. “He needs time, to freshen up.
“I’ve worked him four times since then. He’s doing really good.”
Luis Contreras, who won consecutive Plate Trials with Danish Dynaformer (2015) and Amis Gizmo (2016), rides Silent Sting. Attard won the ‘07 Plate Trial with Jiggs Cozz.
Aheadbyacentury won the 1 1/8 mile Coronation Futurity last fall and returns to that distance as he makes his third start as a three-year-old.
Aheadbyacentury spent the winter at Payson Park and returned to action April 22 with a fifth-place finish in the Queenston.
“He came out of his last race really nice, and I loved the way he trained back after it,” said Ross, who also owns Aheadbyacentury in partnership with Jack of Hearts Racing.
Rafael Hernandez rode Aheadbyacentury to his Coronation victory.
“I really like that Hernandez is back and the colt is stretching out even more,” said Ross. “A mile and an eighth is still his forte.”
Aheadbyacentury will race without blinkers for the first time.
“He’s matured,” said Ross. “He can relax a little more going long.”
Ross has won Plate Trials with Shaws Creek (2002) and Catahoula Parish (1999). Hernandez caputred last year’s race aboard Guy Caballero.