Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 3 Play the King Stakes takes place at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario this Sunday, August 25. Horses three years old and upward will take to Woodbine's turf track and spring seven furlongs looking for the winner's share of the $200,000 purse.
A large field of 13 will take part in the Play the King Stakes - race 7 on Woodbine's Sunday schedule. Post time is 3:49. Here is a brief glance into the past performances of all 13 combatants for this Grade 2 stakes.
Go Blue Or Go Home -Reade Baker trained gelding has seven career starts with five wins (3 on turf) - three straight heading into the Play the King including a career highlight win in the Grade 3 Highlander Stakes here July 7. Before that was a terrific win in the Karl Boyes Memorial at Presque Isle Downs in June in his only other start this year. He has a ton of hype behind him and is the 5-2 morning line favorite departing from post 8.
Excaper - finished second in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and looked good in the summer of 2012 with a win and a pair of seconds. He raced to a good second last September in the Grade 3 Kent Stakes at Saratoga but closed out his 2012 campaign with a disappointing eighth in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs. He has just one start in 2012 - an Allowance Optional Claiming score on this track July 19 after and eight month layoff. Despite not seeing a ton of action this year Excaper is the second choice on the morning line at 4-1 odds.
Riding the River - Last year's champion grass horse in Canada is the defending runner-up in this race and has raced exclusively at Woodbine. He has just three starts this year - a reasonable second in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup Stakes May 26 after eight months away and a repeat win in the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes June. Last time out was his worst effort in quite some time however - an ugly seventh in the Grade 2 Nijinsky here July 21. Riding the River finished his 2012 campaign September 16 with an uncharacteristic fourth in the Woodbine Mile before his long layoff. He has nine wins, three seconds and two third place finishes in 23 career starts but does have three wins and two seconds in his last seven starts overall. He is the most decorated of the Play the King entries and is 6-1 on the morning line.
Upgrade - has placed in four of five starts in 2013 - three third place finishes including the Grade 2 Connaught Cup May 26 and an Allowance Optional Claiming score at Keeneland April 5. Last time out was a disappointing seventh in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park July 4. Upgrade ended his 2013 campaign with a ninth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint in a year that was highlighted by a win in the Grade 3 Jaipur Stakes in June. He has six wins, eight seconds and five third place finishes in 26 career starts and is currently listed as the 6-1 fourth choice. He departs from post 10.
Valentino Beauty - will race for just the seventh time in his career for trainer Barbara Minshall. He started his career with a bang - three straight wins in Maiden Claiming and Allowance races including April 20 at Keeneland. He was a respectable fourth in his stakes debut - the Grade 2 Connaught Cup Stakes at Woodbine May 26 and followed that with his most impressive result - a second behind Riding the River in the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes here June 23. Last time out he fell back to earth with a fifth in the Grad 2 Nijinsky Stakes July 21 on this track. He is 10-1 on the morning line ad leaves from post 5.
Dimension - British bred gelding made his first start ever at Woodbine last time out and finished a very good second in the Grade 3 Bold Venture Stakes July 17 after shipping to North America in October. He has four Allowance starts in North America with a fourth at Keeneland in October being his best result. He had three wins and four seconds in 13 starts at home and will be looking to finally break through on North American soil Sunday. A second last time out certainly has him trending in the right direction. Dimension breaks from the rails at 12-1 odds.
Paso Doble - Mark Casse trained gelding has raced exclusively at Woodbine in his 37 race career with nine wins, 10 seconds and six third place finishes. His last graded stakes action came in July - a third place finish in the Grade 3 Bold Venture on this track. He has six starts in 2013 with two wins, two seconds and a third place finish including a win the minor New Providence Stakes here May 20. Paso Doble has placed in five straight races and enters in some very good form. Despite the form, he is the co-fifth choice at 12-1 odds.
Night Officer -finished fifth in the Grade 3 Highlander Stakes the last time he raced at Woodbine but had thirds in minor stakes action before and after that result. His biggest win to date came in May in the minor Around The Cape Stakes at Belmont Park. Night Officer has placed in five of his last seven starts but hasn't finished better than fifth in any of his two graded stakes starts. Night Officer leaves from post 9 at 12-1 odds.
Dan the Tin Man - has four starts in 2013 with two wins, a second and a third place finish. The wins came in minor stakes action at the beginning of the year - the Woodstock here April 21 and the Tom Ridge at Presque Isle Downs in May. He finished an OK third in the Grade 3 Highlander here in July behind Go Blue Or Go Home and is coming off an OK second in an Allowance August 2. He is 15-1 on the morning line.
Artest - has placed in just one of his last five starts - an Allowance optional Claiming at Keeneland in April and is coming off a fifth in the minor Fiddlers Patriot Stakes at Saratoga July 21. His last graded stakes action came in November - a sixth in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs. Artest has three wins, a second and a third place finish in 13 career starts and is 20-1 on the morning line.
Bumrun - has three wins, three seconds and a third place finish in nine career start with a third place finish in his only graded stakes action - the Grade 3 Vigil Stakes here in June. Last time was a fifth in an Allowance three weeks ago after an Allowance Optional Claiming score July 6. Bumrun breaks from post 7 at 20-1 odds.
Triple Cross - has seven starts this year with a pair of seconds and a third place finish. Last time out was a third in an Allowance on this track August 2 after a distant tenth in the Grade 3 American Derby at Arlington Park July 13. He has three wins, four seconds and two third place finishes in 14 career starts. He departs from the far outside and is one of the two longest shots in the field at 30-1 odds.
Danger Bay - has 11 career starts all at Woodbine and just two stakes starts which resulted in a fourth in the minor Woodstock Stakes in April 2012 and a sixth in the minor Queenston Stakes in June 2012. He has three starts this year - all second place finishes in Allowance Optional Claiming races in the last two months. He takes a big step up Sunday but has been racing quite well for trainer Sid Attard. He will line up in post 2 as the longest shot in the field at 30-1 odds.
Race 7 on Woodbine Racetrack's Sunday card with a Post Time of 3:49 PM.
||Riding the River
||S. Di Pasquale
||Go Blue Or Go Home
||Dan the Tin Man
||E. Da Silva