New York-Based Invader Takes Queen's Plate


Safe Conduct holds off Riptide Rock | Michael Burns

WellSpring Stables' New York invader Safe Conduct (Bodemeister) pressed, pounced and just held off the late-charging Riptide Rock (Point of Entry) to win the 162nd Queen's Plate in a dramatic finish at Woodbine Sunday. With top U.S. jockey Irad Ortiz, riding in his first Queen's Plate, in the irons and making his first start over a synthetic surface, the 3-1 favorite was under a hold while tracking longshot pacesetter Take a Chance (Munnings) through fractions of :24.01 and :48.37. The bay colt rolled up to challenge the pacesetter nearing the stretch and strode to the lead under his own steam. He was determinedly holding off a host of challengers at midstretch, but it was 11-1 shot Riptide Rock closing furiously down the center of the track who came closest to scoring the upset.

“He's shown some speed before to the half, :48,” Ortiz said of the winner. “We thought maybe two horses had speed and we wanted to be out of the traffic, so I broke running. I sat second on the clear, I bided my time, waited for the right time to roll and when I asked him to go, he kept fighting down the stretch. He kept moving forward. I saw somebody was flying outside… that was very close, I didn't know if I won the race after the wire but thank God I did.”

After experiencing his first Plate victory, Ortiz said, “It's a great feeling always to come here. It's my pleasure to come here. I've got a lot of fans. They showed me some love. I really enjoyed it.”

Safe Conduct, a maiden winner second time out over the Saratoga turf last August, began his sophomore campaign with a runner-up finish in a nine-furlong optional claimer at Gulfstream Mar. 14. He won at that level over the Belmont lawn May 2 while defeating subsequent GII National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame S. winner Public Sector (GB) (Kingman {GB}), before jumping to the graded ranks. He was fourth in the off-turf GIII Pennine Ridge S. May 29 and was a well-beaten eighth over a turf course labeled good in the July 10 GI Belmont Derby last time out.

Owner Dr. Robert Vukovich is founder of WellSpring

Pharmaceutical Corporation, which he started in 1999 and sold in 2011. WellSpring Stables, based in Colts Neck, NJ, is a multiple stakes winning owner with 87 career wins from 780 starts and earnings just shy of $4 million since it began operations in 2006.

Pedigree Notes:

Breeder Mitch Kursner, who owns and operates a Toronto-based industrial commercial construction company, purchased Duchess Dancer, a half-sister to Canadian champion Fatal Bullet (Red Bullet), for $95,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale.

Kursner, a co-owner of 2016 Woodbine Oaks winner Neshama, said he was overjoyed with Safe Conduct's gritty Plate triumph.

“Blessed,” said Kursner. “Blessed. I want to congratulate Dr. Vukovich and the wonderful people at WellSpring. They've done a marvelous job bringing this horse along. And of course, Phil Serpe.”

Safe Conduct is Dancing Duchess's second foal. The 9-year-old mare also has a yearling colt by Collected who sold for $11,000 at last year's Keeneland November sale and for $30,000 at this year's OBS January sale, as well as a 2-year-old filly by Exaggerator and a foal filly by Munnings.

Under Safe Conduct's third dam, Sarawilha, is Canadian stalwart Pink Lloyd (Old Forester).

Safe Conduct is the 23rd stakes winner for Bodemeister. Now standing in Turkey, the stallion is the sire of eight graded winners, including GI Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and GI Clark S. winner Bodexpress.

Sunday, Woodbine
QUEEN'S PLATE S., C$1,002,000, Woodbine, 8-22, (C), 3yo,
1 1/4m (AWT), 2:02.85, ft.
1–SAFE CONDUCT, 126, c, 3, by Bodemeister
                1st Dam: Duchess Dancer, by Congrats
                2nd Dam: Sararegal, by Regal Classic
                3rd Dam: Sarawilha, by Sir Ivor
($45,000 Wlg '18 KEENOV). 1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN.
O-WellSpring Stables; B-Mitchell H. Kursner (ON); T-Philip M.
Serpe; J-Irad Ortiz, Jr. C$600,000. Lifetime Record: 7-3-1-0,
2–Riptide Rock, 126, g, 3, Point of Entry–Irish Influence, by
Stephen Got Even. O-Stronach Stables; B-Adena Springs (ON);
T-Sid C. Attard. C$200,000.
3–H C Holiday, 126, c, 3, Ami's Holiday–Henry's Collection, by
Henrythenavigator. (C$35,000 RNA Ylg '19 CANSEP). O-Ivan
Dalos; B-Tall Oaks Farm (ON); T-Kevin Attard. C$100,000.
Margins: HD, 1, 3/4. Odds: 3.00, 11.35, 29.40.
Also Ran: Munnyfor Ro, Keep Grinding, Avoman, Harlan Estate, Haddassah, Tidal Forces, Dance Some Mo, Derzkii, Go Take Charge, Take a Chance. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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