Landry aims to spoil party
By GEORGE GROSS -- Toronto Sun
It is appropriate that the Queen's Plate, North America's oldest horse race, is staged a few days before Canada Day because it's an event Canadians are so very proud of.
The 144th running of the Plate takes place at beautiful Woodbine this afternoon and again promises to be a showcase of the equine world.
As usual, three horses are touted as favourites by the experts -- Mobil and Wando, owned by German-born Gus Schickedanz and Rock Again, owned by Austrian-born Frank Stronach.
Queen's Plate history will tell us that favourites don't always win. Prior to the 2002 Plate, the favourite failed to win in five consecutive years, leaving the victory to the next horse down on the betting line. And last year, all hell broke loose when TJ's Lucky Moon paid $166 to win.
This year, the oddsmakers have Mobil at 2-1, Wando at 7-2 and Rock Again at But is there no other horse that could spoil the party? Of course, there is. Just ask veteran jockey Robert Landry. His mount, Shoal Water, at 15-1, is owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by the successful Mark Frostad, which is a good indication the horse should not be overlooked.
In fact, Robert is convinced that he has a shot at winning the big prize. He had a great year in 2002, winning eight stakes races with eight different horses and collected more than $4.2 million in purses. During his 21-year career, Landry amassed more than $45 million in purses.
Landry, is a good friend of former Maple Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph. He has never ridden a winner in the Queen's Plate, just as Joseph has never won a Stanley Cup.
Landry has had opportunities to ride a Plate winner. However, as fate has it, he always opted for another horse. Or, if he picked the right horse, it got hurt prior to the Plate and was forced to miss the race.
"I want to win the Queen's Plate this year," Landry said yesterday. "Winning the Queen's Plate is like winning the Stanley Cup for a Toronto kid.
"I worked Shoal Water in his past two workouts and I'm impressed by the horse. He's a big and strong horse. I don't think the mile and a quarter will pose any problems for him."
I asked him if he wasn't concerned about the two top favourites, Mobil and Wando?
" Of course, I'm concerned," he said. "Mobil and Wando will be tough, but I'm also worried about Rock Again. However, if I can win it with Shoal Water, it would certainly top off my year."
For whatever it's worth, I'll venture a deuce on Landry and Shoal Water.
GROSSLY ABBREVIATED: Congratulations to Dr. Terry Kavanagh for receiving an honorary doctorate of science from the University of Toronto at Friday's convocation celebrations. The pioneer heart specialist who changed the global medical outlook by proving that cardiac patients not only can workout instead of spending weeks in bed, but also run the Boston Marathon a few months after a heart transplant. At a luncheon, Dr. Kavanagh, was saluted by former patients such as famous Canadian runners Bruce Kidd and Bill Crothers, as well as former Toronto mayor David Crombie. Former Ontario Lt. Governor and retiring Chancellor of U of T, Hal Jackman, presided over the proceedings.