Fairy Hill will headline the $100,000 Lady Angela Stakes, which kicks off the Queen’s Plate Festival, a weekend-long celebration of racing, fabulous style, unique food and drink options and live music, including Friday night’s concert headliner Brad Paisley.
Friday’s eight-race card sports a first post of 3pm. with the featured Lady Angela going as Race 6. Fairy Hill is the likely favourite after finishing fourth last time out in the 1⅛-mile Woodbine Oaks.
The 1-2 finishers there, Dixie Moon and Wonder Gadot, will be returning in Saturday’s Queen’s Plate. The show horse, Hot Cash, is slated to remain with Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies in Sunday’s $225,000 Bison City Stakes at 8½ furlongs.
Trainer Norm McKnight, on the other hand, will be scaling back his expectations a notch when Fairy Hill runs in the $100,000 Lady Angela, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies, which attracted a field of eight.
“I think she’ll be fine going the distance, and the competition should be a little easier for her, too,” said McKnight, who conditions Fairy Hill for owner Bruno Schickedanz. “I look for her to run well.”
Fairy Hill, claimed for $25,000 at Woodbine last fall, wintered at Oaklawn Park with McKnight, finishing second in a $30,000 conditioned claiming race at one mile in her last start there.
Back at Woodbine, Fairy Hill finished third in a seven-furlong first-level allowance race won race won by Safe To Say. The daughter of Sligo Bay then knocked out her first allowance condition in front-running fashion when facing some older distaffers at 8½ furlongs before tiring after employing similar tactics in the Woodbine Oaks.
“I thought the filly ran very good,” said McKnight. “I didn’t think she was Oaks-calibre but she got a good piece of it. We ran her in there hoping to maybe get third, and get her stakes-placed. At the end of the day, I was happy.”
McKnight is even happier with the general progress he is seeing in Fairy Hill. “I thought she was just kind of an ‘okay’ horse, but I think she’s starting to turn the corner,” said McKnight. “Her form is getting better, and she’s training better. I’ve got her to a point now where it looks like she’s doing better physically a little bit.
“I was always concerned, when I claimed her, that I couldn’t get any weight on her. I think she’s just starting to get a little stronger, overall.”
Jeffrey Alderson retains the mount on Fairy Hill.
Rosemere, owned by Chiefswood Stable and trained by Mark Casse, is coming off a close third in a 8½-furlong first-level allowance race at Woodbine on May 19. Prior to that, the homebred had won a restricted allowance/optional claiming race at seven furlongs and should enjoy the Lady Angela cutback.
“I think that’s her distance,” said Casse. “We tried her a couple of times, going farther, and she just doesn’t seem to be able to get two turns. So, this is the logical spot.”
Regular rider Patrick Husbands will be back in the irons.
Line Of Vision is the only stakes winner in the Lady Angela and in fact accomplished that feat twice, taking the six-furlong Victorian Queen last October and doubling up in the 8½-furlong South Ocean the following month. Like the Lady Angela, both of those stakes were for Ontario-sired fillies.
Trained by Andrew Smith for Joey Gee Thoroughbreds, Line Of Vision will be making her first start of the season. “We got backed up; she had a bit of a shin last fall,” said Smith. “That’s why we didn’t get her started earlier.”
Line of Vision has worked four times this month, with the latest a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.40 on Sunday. “She’s not a big work horse, never has been,” said Smith. “That last work was a very good work, for her. She really flew down the lane.
“She’s a gutsy filly; she’ll try hard. But she has to improve, from last year to this year. She’s not a very big filly.”
Line of Vision has been saddled with 123 pounds due to her stakes success, spotting seven pounds to each of her rivals. Luis Contreras, aboard for the first time in the South Ocean, returns.
Without A Doubt is the only other filly in the field with stakes experience, having finished second to Line Of Vision in the Victorian Queen.
Rounding out the field, and all coming off wins, will be Gosudarina, She’s Got Fire and Bear Kitty. Gosudarina was supplemented at a cost of $2,000.