Lightly-raced Pipers Thunder, owned and bred by
Chiefswood Stable, threw his name into the contender hat for the
$1 million Queen's Plate by scoring a one-length upset win at odds of 9.50-1
over a field of eight in Sunday's $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes at Woodbine.
The three-year-old son of Thunder Gulch, making only his third career start,
moved to challenge early leaders, 4.55-1 Pyramid Park and 1.05-1 Edenwold
heading into the far turn of the 1 1/8 mile contest, fended off a surging
26.40-1 Cifercat turning for home, then repulsed a late charge from 25.60-1
longshot Ascot Bill, hitting the wire in 1:51.65 over a fast track. Heavy
favorite Edenwold, last year's Sovereign Award winner as Canada's top male
juvenile, hung on well for third, only a half-length further back.
Results chart from Equibase
Pipers Thunder, who entered the Plate Trial off a maiden win, May 13 at Woodbine while on the lead throughout, had only made his career debut for trainer Eric Coatrieux in March at Gulfstream Park, finishing sixth in a one-mile event.
Owner Robert Krembil, master of Chiefswood Stable, is now sitting in an enviable position to win his second Queen's Plate in only three years. In 2004, his Niigon upset A Bit O'Gold to win the 'Gallop for the Guineas'. "That's our objective, really, to win the classic distance races," said Krembil, explaining Chiefswood's extensive breeding program. "Pipers Thunder had some soft tissue issues (last year). So we just eased off on him and gave him time. It was touch and go whether he could get ready for this. It looks like he did. He has a little learning to do and he learned a lot today."
While some of the major players for the Plate did not contest today's Trial, including expected Plate favorite Wanna Runner, Malakoff, and Shillelagh Slew, the Plate Trial has spawned the eventual Plate winner on many occasions, the latest being Chiefswood's Niigon, who finished second in the 2004 renewal, but turned the tables on A Bit O'Gold three weeks later in the Plate. Wanna Runner looms large for this year's Plate, having won the El Camino Real Derby and the Lone Star Derby for trainer Bob Baffert and owner Mike Pegram, and had originally been considered for the American Triple Crown.