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Big Red Mike winning the 2010 Queens Plate (Gr1)
(Photo : The Star - Footage : Woodbine)
Woodbine, Canada, 4 July 2010
While Americans celebrated their Independence day, their neighbors to the north also enjoyed a grand celebration with Sunday’s 151st running of the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine, the oldest Thoroughbred horse race in North America. Moved back in the calendar this year to accommodate the royal visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, the first race of the Canadian Triple Crown was won in hard-fought fashion by Big Red Mike (Tenpins), from Hotep (A.P. Indy) and Roan Inish (Elusive Quality).
“This will probably be one of the most memorable days of my life,” said co-owner Dom Romeo. “I have been in racing and breeding for 35 years. I bred this horse, which makes it much more satisfying. Our hopes were always to win the Queen’s Plate and The Queen being here is magnificent. It’s very exciting.”
Big Red Mike kicked off his career with a second place finish sprinting over Woodbine’s main track in November before getting the job done next time out 6 December. Making his seasonal debut over seven panels on 11 April, the robust chestnut showed good early speed and came up 3/4 of a length short of the victory. Asked to go past a mile for the first time against allowance company on 2 May, Big Red Mike had to settle for third, but rebounded in his latest to collect a narrow victory in the nine-furlong Plate Trial Stakes against fellow Canadian-breds on 13 June.
Given a 5-1 chance for the big dance, Big Red Mike quickly rushed up to take command and lead Hotep through opening splits of 0:24.43, 0:49.39 and 1:14.31.
Maintaining his pursuer comfortably at bay turning for home, Big Red Mike dug deep and proved best with a game performance over the Sam-Son Farm runner.The sole filly in the field, Roan Inish, closed well for third.
“He ran very relaxed, he gave me no problems,” said winning rider Eurico da Silva. “He was so focused. I went to the lead easy and he did the job. This horse ran so hard today and I’m just so proud of him. I’m going to see the Queen today!”
For 58-year-old Nick Gonzalez, who celebrated his 1,000th career win last month, it was his first Queen’s Plate win with his first starter in the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown. It was also the first Classic victory for Dom and Frank Romeo’s Terra Racing Stable. “I’m pinching myself to see if this is real,” said Gonzalez. “I left it up to Eurico. I thought it was going to be a jockey’s race. My wife (Martha), son and I were jumping up and down so much that it’s just kind of a blur in my eye right now.”
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News