Esposito can make the goal in Queen's Plate

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

July 3rd, 2016

As I observed in this week's "On Point" with Ed DeRosa, I find handicapping Sunday's C$1 million Queen's Plate at Woodbine a bit of a puzzle.

With so much apparent speed in the field, how sure can you be those that have shown early foot in the past will commit to showing it again over 1 1/4 miles? How do you guess which connections will instead opt for rating tactics?

Fully expecting the race flow to be totally different than what I could possibly project, I chose to go about making a selection by mostly other means.

As I also noted in the video, I'm leaning toward Esposito (#11, 8-1) as the top pick. A maiden winner at Del Mar last November, the Tom Proctor charge next ran a bang-up third behind Discreetness and Suddenbreakingnews in the $250,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park. Both of those rivals went on to capture the Smarty Jones and Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn, respectively, with Suddenbreakingnews also faring well in the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Besides having kept good company, Esposito showed a liking for Tapeta in his season debut at Woodbine, taking a first-level allowance by more than three lengths going seven furlongs.

Stepping up from seven-eighths to a mile and a quarter is a big jump, especially for a colt that has never been beyond a mile. However, being a son of Ghostzapper, I think he can get it. He also descends from Grade 1 winner Collect the Cash, who reared Blue Grass (G1) and Ontario Derby winner Stately Victor. In other words, his pedigree suggests he could go far.

Among the other stakes on the program, I fully expect Strut the Course (#5, 5-2) to bounce back with a successful title defense in the C$200,000 Dance Smartly. She suffered a recent loss in the Nassau (G2) where she conceded a lot of ground early before flying home for third, and on her best day she simply looks better than her 10 rivals.

I was very surprised to see Conquest Daddyo (#7) listed at 20-1 on the morning line for the C$100,000 Charlie Barley, and he's worth a play at anything close to that price. He won the Summer (G2) over this course last fall before rallying from 14th after a rough break to finish fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).

I'm willing to look past his two poor tries this season. He simply might not have liked things in South Florida when disappointing in the $100,000 Kitten's Joy at Gulfstream, and last time he showed too much speed in the C$100,000 Wando over the Woodbine main track. He's a much more effective off-the-pace type, and bears watching if he reverts to that style while returning to the grass here.

As part of Sunday's festivities, Woodbine will be guaranteeing a $150,000 pool in the Early Pick 4 and $300,000 pool in the Late Pick 4. players can earn a share of 1 Million TSC Elite Points by hitting either or both Pick 4 pools.