TORONTO, June 8, 2023 – The $125,000 Queenston Stakes, a key prep on the road to this year’s King’s Plate (August 20), takes the spotlight on Sunday’s 11-race card at Woodbine.
The seven-furlong Queenston, for 3-year-olds foaled in Canada, has attracted some top Plate contenders, including Poulin in O T.
Trained by Steve Owens, who co-owns with Empress Stable, and co-bred with Beverly Lewis-Owens, Poulin in O T will make his 3-year-old debut in race eight on Sunday.
“He finished up racing in December and had some rehab time over the winter in Kleinburg (Ontario). They took a little flake out of his ankle.” said Owens. “Everything went extremely well, and he was hand-walked over the winter, and had a small turn out in a paddock for about a month. He made his way back to Woodbine and he’s been training forwardly since then. He’s bigger and stronger, so that’s nice to see.”
The horse named for Canadian hockey superstar Marie-Philip Poulin had a banner rookie campaign, one that yielded four wins and a second from six starts and a Sovereign Award finalist nod in the top 2-year-old male category.
The son of Reload capped off his 2022 season with a second, a neck back of Armstrong, in the Clarendon Stakes on December 9.
“He did everything we asked him to do and more,” praised Owens. “We gave him that extra race in December that I perhaps normally wouldn’t have. But with the shot at a Sovereign out there and he was doing well, we decided to go ahead. With [Sovereign champion] Philip My Dear having beat him earlier in the year, we thought we would have a better chance at the award if he had won the Clarendon. But he did what he always does when he races, and he was very game in that one.”
The chestnut began his career with back-to-back victories over the Tapeta surface, flaunting his speed in his 4 ½-furlong opener at the $40,000 optional claiming level and doubling up in the open Victoria Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs.
Sent off at 3-1 in the Victoria, the gelding glided to the lead at the 3/8ths pole and went on to notch a 3 ¼-length triumph in a time of 1:04.71.
After a seventh in the Soaring Free, a 6 ½-furlong tilt on the turf, Poulin in O T netted a 2 ¼-length score in the restricted Bull Page Stakes over about seven furlongs on the E.P. Taylor turf on September 24.
“I think what impresses me most when I watch him race is that he’s a super athlete,” said Owens. “He’s powerful, strong, fleet on his feet, and he does everything as he wants to do. He’ll work in :51 in the mornings if he’s by himself, but if he’s with company, he’ll work in :46. He thrives on competition.”
Owens, who has 302 lifetime victories, would love to see that competitive side on display in the King’s Plate.
For now, the multiple graded stakes winning trainer will take things one stride at a time.
“This race came up at the right time and he’s worked really well heading into it. You have to start somewhere. This race is a starting point for him and there is some good competition in here,” said Owens. “It’s taking things race by race. There are curves in the road, and it can take you either way.”
Other starters include 2022 Canadian champion 2-year-old male Philip My Dear, three-time winner One Bay Hemingway, multiple stakes placed Stayhonor Goodside, and impressive first-time out winner True Temper.
First post time on Sunday is 1:10 p.m. Fans can also watch and wager on all the action via HPIbet.com and the Dark Horse Bets app.