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Paramount Prince wins 164th running of $1-million King's Plate race

TORONTO — Patrick Husbands isn't one to mess with a winning formula.
Paramount Prince, with Patrick Husbands aboard, crosses the finish line to win the 164th running of the Kings’s Plate horse race in Toronto on Sunday, August 20, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Spencer Colby

TORONTO — Patrick Husbands isn't one to mess with a winning formula.

So, after guiding Paramount Prince to a convincing five-length, wire-to-wire win in last month's Plate Trial, the veteran jockey took the horse to the lead from the start of the $1-million King's Plate on Sunday at Woodbine Racetrack.

And once again the strategy paid off as Paramount Prince earned a length-and-a-half victory over stablemate Elysian Field in the first jewel of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown.

"I don't want to change anything that's fixed already," Husbands said. "If somebody wanted to lead … but he left there running and I just let him do his own thing.

"I just didn't want to disappoint him and he got the job done."

Husbands, who earned his third Plate title, knew early Paramount Prince would be tough to beat.

"By the eighth pole the first time around I knew it would take a good horse to beat him," Husbands said. "He was just enjoying it out there.

"It's amazing how he does it. He just glides … if you watch this horse, you never see his legs on the ground. He's just a racehorse."

Husbands captured his first Plate aboard Wando in 2003. He teamed up with trainer Mark Casse to win again in '14 with filly Lexie Lou.

Paramount Prince, an 8/1 pick, finished the 1 1/4-mile race in 2:01.93 on Woodbine's Tapeta course, just off Moira's record of 2:01.48. Casse, 15 times Canada's top thoroughbred trainer, also earned a third career Plate but his first two came with fillies — Lexie Lou and Wonder Gadot in 2018.

"Patrick told me last time, 'This horse breaks so sharp that I'm not going to take it away from him,'" Casse said. "That's what happened in the Plate Trial and as much speed as there was today, we talked about it because I thought some horses would go.

"But he wins the race many times at the start. He kind of tells everyone, 'Hey, I'm going to the lead,' because he breaks so fast."

Filly Elysian Field captured last month's $500,000 Woodbine Oaks at Woodbine with Sahin Civaci aboard. The horse is also trained by Casse.

Stanley House, with Javier Castellano aboard, took third in the 17-horse field. The race generated an all-time Woodbine wagering record of $18,127,000.

Civaci and Elysian Field appeared poised to make a move on Paramount Prince late in the race. Husbands said while he heard Elysian Field behind him, he never felt like he had to ask more of his horse.

"I started to hear screaming behind there, but I didn't want to squeeze my horse early," Husbands said. "The more I hear screaming, the better it is for me.

"If I don't hear the screaming and pull the trigger, he probably gets beat, right?"

The remainder of the field, in order of finish, included: Velocitor; Touch'n Ride; Enjoythesilent; Cool Kiss; Twin City; Philip My Dear; Moon Landing; Wickenheiser; Twowaycrossing; Kalik; Morstachy's; Kaukokaipuu; Silent Miracle; and Midnight in Malibu.

Paramount Prince becomes the first Plate Trial winner to also capture the Plate since Big Red Mike in 2010.

The chestnut son of Society’s Chairman-Platinum Steel earned a third victory from six lifetime starts. Paramount Prince has never finished out of the money (two seconds, one third) and the $600,000 winner's share boosted his earnings over $730,000.

Paramount Prince paid $18, $9.70 and $5.80, while Elysian Field returned $5.90 and $4.10. Stanley House paid $4.10.

Two years ago, it was Casse who talked Husbands out of retirement following the death of a close friend.

"I said, 'Look, you can retire if that's what you choose to do, but not this week,''" Casse recollected. "I want you to go home, I want you to think about it, spend the winter and decide.

"And if you decide in the spring you're going to retire, Tina (Casse's wife) and I will be there.' When he wants to retire, I'm fine, but I didn't want him retiring for the wrong reasons."

Casse and Husbands have a long and successful partnership, with Casse estimating they've won roughly 1,600 races. And each Christmas morning, Husbands is the first to wish Casse and his family season's greetings.

"He calls me Dad and he's the first guy who calls me every Christmas morning," Casse said with a chuckle. "The phone rings and I'll say to my wife, 'It's Patrick.'"

Added Husbands: "I want to be the first."

The second jewel of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown will be the $400,000 Prince of Wales, a 1 3/16-mile dirt race at Fort Erie Racetrack on Sept. 12. Wando, bred and owned by the late Gus Schickedanz, was the last Canadian Triple Crown champion.

But Casse was noncommital regarding either of his horses making the trip to Fort Erie.

"I don't know," he said. "I'd say she's bred for it, him maybe not quite as much but we'll talk about it.

"We'll see."

Earlier on Sunday, Moria, the '22 Plate winner and even-money favourite, was second in the Grade II $200,000 Dance Smartly Stakes. The Kevin Attard-trained filly finished a length behind Miss Dracarys, which won the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:39.60 for trainer Neil Drysdale.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 20, 2023.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press