Owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who won the 2016 Queen's Plate with Sir Dudley Digges, will send out three starters in Sunday's Gallop for the Guineas.
The familiar red and white Ramsey silks are back at Woodbine for the 159th running of the Plate, this time in the form of Boyhood Dream, Marriage Counselor and Pawnbroker.
A son of Dialed In, Boyhood Dream has grown in character and size as he readies for the biggest race of his career to date.
“He's a bigger horse that I've been waiting to stretch out for a while,” said Nolan Ramsey, grandson of the Ramseys, and assistant to trainer Mike Maker. “He showed some talent this winter at the Fair Grounds. We finally had the opportunity to stretch him out in the Plate Trial (1 1/8 miles) and I thought he ran a pretty good fourth in a pretty decent field. If you watch the gallop-out, he galloped really strong, so I know the Plate distance (1 ¼ miles) won't be a problem.”
Woodbine-based rider Alan Garcia gets the call.
Marriage Counselor, a son of Overanalyze, will look to keep his blossoming relationship with Woodbine going strong.
On June 10 at the Toronto oval, Marriage Counselor traveled 1 ¼-miles – the same distance as the main-track Plate – over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Sent off as the favourite, the colt was two lengths in front at the stretch call, going on to win by the same margin for the milestone victory.
“I've been around this horse since he was a two-year-old and I had him at Gulfstream all winter,” said Ramsey. “I had him at Keeneland in the spring. He was kind of a punk – he really didn't care one way or another what he did. After he ran at Keeneland and ran a decent third, he kind of perked up a bit and started to figure things out. He ran another okay third at Keeneland and I was waiting for the opportunity to stretch him out on the grass because I think that's what he really wants to do.”
While Marriage Counselor won't be the post-time favourite, Ramsey sees the horse as an outsider to keep an eye on.
“We'll see how the race plays out, but I know the distance won't be a problem,” he said. “I think he'll take to the Tapeta really well. I think he's a longshot, but I think if the pace scenario works in his favour, he could be a sneaky horse.”
Bajan-born jockey Jalon Samuel, who piloted Sir Dudley Digges to a win in the 2018 Barbados Gold Cup, will be in the irons.
Pawnbroker, who has but just one lifetime start, completes the Ramsey triumvirate.
Lightest on experience of the three Maker trainees, the son of Gio Ponti will certainly be long odds on the toteboard this Sunday.
Ramsey, however, believes the best is yet to come for the colt.
“I think as of right now, Boyhood Dream is a better horse than he is, but I think in the long run, Pawnbroker's going to turn out to be the nicer horse,” he offered. “We got him in as a two-year-old and had a few little issues with him. So, we backed off on him for the winter and unfortunately we got a later start with him.”
Pawnbroker's one start came at Woodbine in a six-furlong race on May 26, resulting in a fourth-place effort.
Ramsey wasn't disappointed with the performance, considering the distance the race was contested at.
“He's a horse that wants to run all day,” he said. “As far as are earnings are to get into the Queen's Plate, I had to run him at going three-quarters, which definitely isn't his game. But he ran a good fourth, never got tired and never backed up. So, I'm excited to stretch him out.”
Champion U.S.-based rider Joel Rosario will be aboard.
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