|Luis Contreras pumps his fist as he guides Inglorious across the finish line to win the Queen's Plate at Woodbine in Toronto, Ont., Sunday. (MARK O'NEILL/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - Amazing, that she is.
The superlative was echoed by jockey Luis Contreras several times after guiding Inglorious to a 2 1/2-length win in the Queen’s Plate on Sunday at Woodbine Racetrack and, given the way she exploded in the final quarter-mile of Canada’s most prestigious horse race, few in the crowd could argue.
Breaking from Post 9 in the 17-horse cavalry charge, Contreras was able to settle the daughter of Hennessy right away. She settled in the middle of the following pack once Oh Canada and Curgone had stationed themselves in front, setting a reasonable pace. Contreras was actually looking to place her behind race favourite Check Your Soul.
“That was the horse to beat,” he said. “In the race, when I saw him in front of me, I just tried to follow him because I knew he had a lot of horse.”
Around the turn, Contreras started edging Inglorious to the outside for space to run.
“Middle of the turn, when he started to pick her up, you could see her start to respond,” trainer Josie Carroll said. “And that was just her first gear.”
Second and third gear was just startling. She grabbed the lead from unlikely 61-1 longshot Hippotylus just after the eighth pole and cruised from there.
“She relaxed all the way and waited for me to ask,” Contreras said. “In the stretch she gave me everything.”
“When she made her move and she started to accelerate, I knew she had a big, big chance,’ Carroll said.
There was no doubt Inglorious would be a very good filly. She debuted last October by winning the Fanfreluche Stakes. She went on to win the Ontario Lassie Stakes and had two good outings in New Orleans in the winter including a fourth in the Fairgrounds Oaks. She came home and had won the La Lorgnette before capturing the June 5 Oaks.
Carroll has described her as a professional and an easy- to-train horse. The jockey also said she is an easy filly to ride, relaxing early then responding to urging.
“She’s more than amazing,” he said. “That’s a very smart filly.”
Owners Donna and Vern Dubinsky of Sherwood Park, Alta., bought the filly as a yearling in 2009, the same year they campaigned Careless Jewel, also trained by Carroll, who won the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.
“Careless Jewel was out of a dam by Hennessy,” Vern Dubinsky said. “I wanted another Hennessy mare so I could have another Careless Jewel.”
Contreras, 25, a native of Mexico City who is riding his third season at Woodbine, spent the previous two years watching the Plate in the jockey’s room.
“This means a lot,” he said. “Before the race, I had butterflies in my stomach. After the race, I screamed like I never screamed before.”
Carroll, who made history with her win in 2006 with Edenwold, becoming the first female trainer to win the Plate, didn’t want to compare the wins.
“They’re both wonderful in their own way,” she said. “It’s a wonderful thing to win the Queen’s Plate. It’s what we aspire to as Canadian trainers.
Carroll was non-committal about running Inglorious before the Plate until about a week ago. She’s equally non-commital about running her in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie next month until she is sure the horse is ready.
“Let her tell us what we’re going to do,” Carroll said.
Whenever and wherever that next start is, Canadian racing fans are sure looking forward to it.