How to safeguard North America’s oldest race … by calling it off
Canada: Everyone knows what would happen if the ravens were ever to leave the Tower of London.
While the potential consequences may not be quite so drastic, officials at Woodbine have acted in a bid to ensure their Queen’s Plate, the first leg of Canada’s Triple Crown, retains its status as the oldest continuously run race in North America. By calling the race off.
Don’t be misled, however, for this is designed as a case of postponed rather than cancelled for an event that dates back to its inception in 1860 – seven years before the first running of the Belmont Stakes, the oldest leg of the US Triple Crown. With little concern for hell or high water, it has been run every year since.
Run over 1m2f on the synthetic Tapeta main track at Woodbine, the Can$1 million Queen’s Plate (run as the King’s Plate when a male monarch is on the throne) kicks off the Canadian Triple Crown. It is followed by the Prince of Wales Stakes (on dirt at Fort Erie) before the Breeders’ Stakes, over 1m4f on turf, back at Woodbine. Each is restricted to Canadian-breds, which explains why they do not carry any graded status.
The start of Woodbine’s meet on April 18 has been suspended owing to coronavirus, leaving in abeyance plans for the 161st edition of the Queen’s Plate, originally scheduled for June 27.
Woodbine, though, are adamant the race will take place later in the year, like the Kentucky Derby, postponed from the first Saturday in May until the first Saturday in September.
“The Queen’s Plate is the oldest continuously run race in North America and we have every intention of keeping it that way,” said CEO Jim Lawson.
“Once we postponed the start of our season, it likely meant that the Queen’s Plate would also be postponed as certain races are required leading up to it so the three-year-old horses competing are ready for the longer distance. As soon as we receive clarity on when the season will start, we will create a new stakes schedule and finalise a new date for the Queen’s Plate.”