The $150,000 Marine Stakes (G3), a key prep on the road to this year’s Queen’s Plate on Aug. 22, headlines the Woodbine card on July 11.
Contested over 1 1/16-miles on the main track, the Marine has attracted some notable Canadian-breds hoping for a shot at Plate glory.
Kevin Attard, in search of his first Marine crown, will send out Haddassah, a gelded son of Air Force Blue, who will be making his first stakes appearance.
Bred and owned by Al and Bill Ulwelling, Haddassah is listed as the 8-1 fourth choice in the Queen’s Plate Winterbook.
The bay gelding’s first career start came last November at Woodbine, in a 1 mile and 70-yard main track race that had originally been scheduled for the turf.
Second at the stretch call, Haddassah rallied to secure a half-length win as the 9-5 mutuel choice.
After a series of steady spring works, the Ontario-bred finished a solid third in his 3-year-old debut on June 13, a 1 1/16-mile test over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
“With Haddassah, we had to run him against older horses,” noted Attard. “The scheduling with everything doesn’t leave much time or room for error. We had to get him going and it was against older horses, and on the turf. It wasn’t ideal, but all things considered, I thought he ran a good race. He’s come back and worked really well in the interim. We’re excited to see him run against his own age group, going a mile and a sixteenth. We’re looking forward to it.”
Attard won’t make any Queen’s Plate plans quite yet.
“He’s a horse that has a lot of raw talent, but I don’t know if a mile and quarter is going to be in his realm. He has a lot of ability and talent. He enjoys what he does, so hopefully, everything comes together for him.”
Sam-Son Farm has the most Marine wins (six) for owners, while Sandy Hawley holds the riding record with five Marine crowns. The most recent horse to notch the Marine-Plate double was Shaman Ghost, who achieved the feat in 2015.