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Husbands, Callaghan to ride in Queen’s Plate


HAYLEY MORRISON

Husbands, Callaghan to ride in Queen’s Plate

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THE 158TH RUNNING of the $1 million Queen’s Plate at Woodbine racetrack on Sunday will feature two well-known Bajan jockeys.

Making his 18th appearance in the race, champion jockey Patrick Husbands will ride State of Honour, a multiple stakes placed colt trained by Mark Casse; while Slade Callaghan will make his sixth appearance aboard Vaughan, a long shot colt trained by John Mattine.

No stranger to Woodbine’s winner circle, Husbands won The Queen’s Plate with Wando in 2003 and more recently with champion filly Lexie Lou in 2014.

Last year he finished sixth aboard Josie Carroll’s trainee, Gamble’s Ghost.

Rather than be deterred, the jock is coming back more determined than ever to secure the first jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown.

“It would be a big thrill for me again,” said Husbands who continues to be one of the top jockeys at Woodbine.

This year, State of Honour is not only one of the favourites but one of the more seasoned horses going into the big race. The three-year-old bay colt and son of To Honour and Serve has already run in several big stakes races this year including the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.

Participating in the first leg of the U.S. Triple Crown, the colt led the opening half-mile before fading to a disappointing 19th place finish.

Despite the colt’s lacklustre performance in the run for the roses Husbands isn’t discouraged.

“Every time he runs he goes out there and gives you a 110 per cent. The only race he didn’t give a 110 per cent was the Kentucky Derby – that’s the only race he’s run bad since competing and running in the races. You throw out the Kentucky Derby and he’s a horse that would be in the first three.”

While some jockeys will be riding their mounts for the first time on Plate day, Husbands has ridden this specific horse a handful of times over the last year. Most recently in June Husbands steered the colt to a third place finish in the Plate Trial behind King and His Court and winner Guy Caballero. State of Honour will meet the pair again in Sunday’s big race.

 “I just need a trip hoping he will stay the trip. He is a speed horse and I hope the guys don’t tackle me too early and just play it by ear.”

Reviewing the 12 other horses entered in the race, Husbands isn’t too concerned about his competitors. One horse that might catch him is a dark bay colt by the name of Vaughan which will be ridden by veteran jockey and his fellow Bajan Callaghan (below) who began his racing career in Barbados has been riding on the Canadian circuit since the early 90s.

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He made his first Queen’s Plate appearance in 1999 aboard Great Defender which finished 16th. More recently in 2011 Callaghan guided Seawatch to a sixth place finish.

Vaughan, a last minute entry, is the lightly raced colt and son of City Zip owned by RCC Racing Stable Ltd. Previously named Conquest Zipped Up, the three-year old colt was purchased for a meagre $17 000 at Keeneland’s November sale when Conquest Stables dispersed their stock.

Vaughan is still a maiden with only two starts under his belt. In his last start on June 18, he finished third over a 11/16 mile on Woodbine’s turf course.

“He’s a young horse that is pretty much unproven at this point in time, but he is probably one of the best looking horses that you can find. He is a really good-looking horse, if he can run to how he looks I think he will run really well,” said Callaghan who hasn’t ridden the horse in either of his first two starts.

Yet, given his years of experience in the game Callaghan has a simple plan outlined for the unseasoned colt.

“I think the main thing is to get him to relax and to get the distance, the 1¼ mile…I think if he is able to relax a little bit he should get a 1¼ mile.”

Despite riding the long shot, Callaghan is excited for the opportunity to once again be in the saddle for this prestigious race.

“I’ve won one part of the (Canadian) Triple Crown already with Portcullis (Breeders’ Stakes 2002) and if you can win the big one, which is the Queen’s Plate it’s the icing on the cake here in Toronto. It’s one of the biggest races you can win here and it pretty much means everything if you can.” (HM)

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