The Queen's Plate (known as the King's Plate from 1901 to 1952) is Canada's oldest Thoroughbred horse race, having been founded in 1860. It is also the oldest continuously run race in North America. It is run at a distance of 1+1⁄4 miles (2 kilometres) for a maximum of 17 three-year-old Thoroughbred horses foaled in Canada. The race takes place each summer at Woodbine Racetrack in Etobicoke, Ontario. It is the first race in the Canadian Triple Crown.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Race type||Flat / Thoroughbred|
|Distance||1+1⁄4 mi (2 km)|
|Weight||Colt/Gelding: 126 lb (57 kg)|
Filly: 121 lb (55 kg)
The Queen's Plate has typically been held in June or July, but in 2020 the race was postponed to September due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. Woodbine then elected to run the 2021 and 2022 editions of the race in August.
Historically, the race has been named in honour of the reigning monarch. The Woodbine Entertainment Group, which owns and operates the event, is to announce whether or not the race will again be renamed the King's Plate as a result of the September 2022 accession of King Charles III.
In 1859, when Canada West was still a colony of Britain, the then-president of the Toronto Turf Club, Sir Casimir Gzowski, petitioned Queen Victoria to grant a plate for a new race in the territory. Upon royal assent, the first Queen's Plate was run on June 27, 1860, at the Carleton racetrack in Toronto, with the prize of "a plate to the value of 50 guineas". Despite the name of the race, the winning owner is presented with a gold cup rather than a plate.
Originally, the race was restricted to three-year-olds bred in Canada that had never won a stakes race. The race was originally run in heats, with a horse having to win two heats to be declared the winner. Over the years, the race conditions have evolved. Heat racing was discontinued in 1879, and the race was opened to stakes winners around the same time (some early records are incomplete). For many years, the race was open to older horses and in the early 1900s was even open to two-year-olds. The race is currently restricted to three-year-olds foaled in Canada. The owner must pay a nomination fee ($500 in 2018) in February, a second subscription fee ($1,500 in 2018) in May and a final entry fee ($10,000) in prior to the race.
The first four renewals were run at Carleton racetrack. After that, the Queen's Plate became a "movable feast", with politicians from all over modern-day Ontario vying to host the race in their constituency. Fifteen different race tracks hosted the race over the next two decades, with distances varying from one to two miles. In 1883, the race moved to Old Woodbine, located in eastern Toronto along Lake Ontario. The race continued to be held at Old Woodbine until that track was replaced by "New" Woodbine in northern Toronto in 1956. The race has been run at Woodbine ever since. In 2006, Woodbine changed the track surface for the main track from natural dirt to a synthetic surface known as Polytrack. In 2016, the surface was changed to Tapeta. Because of the change in racing surfaces, Woodbine maintains several sets of track and stakes records. The fastest time for the race on the original dirt surface at the current 1+1⁄4 mi (2 km) distance is 2:01 4/5, set by Kinghaven Farms' Izvestia in 1990. The current stakes record (the fastest all-time) is 2:01.48, set by Moira in 2022 on Tapeta.
Horses owned by Windfields Farm have won the Plate eleven times, but the most successful was the stable owned by Joseph E. Seagram, a prominent distiller from Waterloo, Ontario. Seagram's stable won the Plate on twenty occasions between 1891 and 1935 including eight times in a row between 1891 and 1898, and ten times in eleven years from 1891 to 1901.
The 2004-2013 Plate winners had little success in their subsequent racing careers. This compares unfavourably to the 1990s when a number of Plate winners had considerable success thereafter, including With Approval, Izvestia, Dance Smartly and Awesome Again. The more recent Queen's Plate winners have also been successful, including Lexie Lou (who became a multiple graded stakes winner in Canada and the US after winning the Plate in 2014) and Shaman Ghost (a Grade I winner in America after winning the Plate in 2015).
Nick Eaves, former President and CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Group, announced during the 2012 Queen's Plate post position draw that Woodbine Racetrack might be forced to close in April 2013 due to the cancellation of Slots at Racetrack program partnerships between Ontario's racetracks and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Eaves said that if Woodbine is not open, "there won't be a Queen's Plate." A new funding agreement was put in place in March 2013, which ensured the continuation of horse racing at Woodbine.
38 fillies have won the Plate, beginning with Brunette in 1864. The 2017 running was won by filly Holy Helena, while the 2018 running was won by Wonder Gadot. Two chestnut fillies both by the name of Wild Rose have won the Queen's Plate, in 1867 and 1886. They were the daughter and great-great-grand-daughter respectively of Yellow Rose, who also produced the first Queen's Plate winner Don Juan.
The latest filly to win the Queen's Plate was Moira in 2022, whose final time of 2:01.48 established an all-time speed record.
The race has been held at a variety of distances:
- 1860–1867: 1-mile (1.6 km) heats
- 1868–1870: 2 miles (3.2 km)
- 1871: 1+3⁄4 miles (2.82 km)
- 1872–1886: 1+1⁄2 miles (2.4 km)
- 1887–1923: 1+1⁄4 miles (2.01 km)
- 1924–1956: 1+1⁄8 miles (1.811 km)
- 1957-: 1+1⁄4 miles (2.01 km)
As King of Canada, Charles III is patron of the event. Various other members of the Canadian Royal Family have been in attendance through the years, beginning with the Duke of Argyll and his wife, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, in 1881, when the Duke was serving as Governor General of Canada and the couple was touring Ontario. Elizabeth II's fourth and final visit to the race was in early July 2010.
- 4 – Avelino Gomez (1957, 1960, 1966, 1969)
- 4 – Sandy Hawley (1970, 1971, 1975, 1978)
- 4 – Robin Platts (1972, 1974, 1977, 1984)
- 8 – Harry Giddings Jr. (1911, 1913, 1914, 1920, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1942)
- 8 – Roger Attfield (1976, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, 2008)
- 6 – John R. Walker (1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896)
- 6 – Gordon J. "Pete" McCann (1940, 1951, 1953, 1957, 1959, 1963)
- 6 - William H. Bringloe (1923, 1926, 1928, 1933, 1936, 1937)
† indicates a filly
- "Condensed History Of The Longest Established Race Of North America". Daily Racing Form at University of Kentucky Archives. 1912-05-17. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
- "Thoroughbred Report - Frequently Asked Questions - Horse Racing History, etc". www.thoroughbredreport.com. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
- "Queen's Plate Postponed Due to Coronavirus". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
- "Mighty Heart Leads Throughout in Queen's Plate Romp". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
- "Queen's Plate 2022 Announced" (Press release). Toronto, Ontario: Woodbine Entertainment Group. 1 December 2021. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
- https://www.cbc.ca/sports/equestrian/queens-plate-host-name-decision-queen-elizabeth-death-1.6576816[bare URL]
- "History of Queen's Plate". www.queensplate.com. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- Nevills, Joe. "How Wild Rose won the Queen's Plate in 1867 - and again 19 years later". Thoroughbred Racing Commentary. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- "Thoroughbred Stakes Results" (PDF). woodbineentertainment.com. pp. 117–119. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
- "Nomination Form" (PDF). woodbine.com. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- Mauntah, Richard (8 April 2016). "Woodbine ready to showcase new Tapeta racing surface". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- Ralph, Dan (21 August 2022). "Moira wins 163rd running of $1-million Queen's Plate". cbc.ca. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
- The Canadian Encyclopedia. Published 2012-08-20, last edited 2014-03-07.
- Podnieks, Andrew; Hockey Hall of Fame (2005). Silverware. Toronto, Ontario: Fenn Publishing. pp. 28–29. ISBN 1-55168-296-6.
- "Northern Dancer a Very Unlikely Hero". horseracinghalloffame.com. Archived from the original on 26 October 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
- Shields, Emily. "Why the Queen's Plate is so much more than just Canada's most famous race". Thoroughbred Racing Commentary. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
- Campbell, Alex (21 June 2012). "Eaves: Closure of Woodbine Possible in 2013". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
- "Queen's Plate Winners". www.tbheritage.com. Retrieved 2017-07-20.
- "History > History of Queen's Plate". Woodbine Entertainment Group. Archived from the original on 14 June 2009. Retrieved 2 July 2009.
- Morrison, Jennifer (4 July 2010). "Big Red Mike takes Queen's Plate | Toronto Star". thestar.com. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
- Toronto Star, February 7, 1935