2023 King’s Plate Contenders & Pretenders By Jackson Muniz

Awesome edition of this year’s King’s Plate that drew 17 runners plus 2 also-eligibles. It’s a wide open betting race so let’s take a quick look at all the runners and see if we can narrow it down to a few contenders. 

#1 Stanley House (4-1)

This colt was really coming into his own prior to that last start as he had been steadily improving his speed figures (Timeform US) with every race. An excellent second against the older stakes winner Tyson leaps off the page and the win two back earned a synthetic speed figure that is co-highest in the field. He was hammered to even money in the Plate Trial but never did much running after he was out of position early. I’m not sure there’s a rider you’d rather have this year than Castelllano in a big race like this and he should save all the ground. This is his chance to rebound, but I have my doubts about his ability to get a mile and a quarter and I think he may find himself with too much to do again. 


#2 Elysian Field (8-1)

This Hard Spun Filly was super impressive in the Woodbine Oaks when she blew away that field by over two lengths. She got a good ground-saving trip that day, but did encounter some brief trouble in the far turn that she overcame quickly. She drifted out a bit in the stretch, suggesting she might’ve been getting tired, but she maintained her advantage on the gallop out so perhaps this 10 furlong trip won’t be an issue. That was also her first time stretching out in a while so she had a right to get a little tired and it’s not like anyone else here is proven at this distance. She drew inside again today so she should get a similar trip to last time and the pace will be honest in this big field.  She’s steadily improved her speed figures in every single synthetic start so who knows where her ceiling is? She’s a major contender in my opinion and should be a square price. 


#3 Philip My Dear (30-1)

He was one of the better horses on this circuit as a two year old, capping off his campaign with a victory in the Cup Saucer. Most of his success has come over the turf course though and he hasn’t been able to take a step forward as a three year old. All of his best work has also come around one turn and some of his worst efforts have been when he’s tried to stretch out. If you’re a believer, this will only be the third start of the year so he could be sitting on a peak effort and the blinkers go on to try and get him more forward. Ultimately, there’s just too many negatives for me to be in his corner


#4 Twin City (30-1)

He finished third last time out in the Plate Trial after he got a pretty good trip overall. He stalked the pace from midpack and weaved his way through traffic in the turn and in the stretch. I don’t like that he couldn’t get up for second even though he had every opportunity to do so, especially since Cool Kiss was very wide on each turn. I don’t think he can win, but he drew another good post for this spot and the fact that he has proven he can weave his way through traffic in full fields like this one could come in handy. He’s very usable underneath in exotics at a big number. 


#5 Morstachy’s (50-1)

Deep closer has his work cut out for him in this spot. He’s been running okay against starter allowance foes, hitting the board on multiple occasions, but has yet to get a W. All those races were around one turn so maybe this stretch-out is what he wants? He’s not for me, but I’d imagine he’s gonna sit way back there and hope the pace is suicidal.  


#6 Kalik (3-1)

This is likely your post time favorite and for good reason. Chad Brown and Kazushi Kimura would take plenty of money even if they didn’t have a legitimate contender, but Kalik comes into the race as a clear standout on speed figures (albeit on turf). I have some questions about how good his recent form actually is since he was able to walk the dog in both races two and three back so those races might look a bit better than they actually were. Last time he faced a little adversity in the Belmont Derby and he didn’t do any running which is a bit concerning. The good news though is that it was against much tougher competition and there was no drop in the speed figures. Obviously he’s going to have to replicate his form on the synthetic so I’m not sure I’d be willing to bet him at what is likely to be a short price in this huge field. He’s still an obvious contender and is the one to beat on his best day. 


#7 Velocitor (30-1)

Is another that ran really well as a two year old and was able to steal the Coronation Futurity on the front end going nine furlongs. He struggled in his first couple starts at three, but he did improve to run a decent fourth last time in the Plate Trial. He was close to the front throughout and stayed on well to the end at a huge number. The problem is he has to figure out a way to turn the tables on Paramount Prince, among others, and I have a tough time seeing that considering that foe blew him away in the final furlong. 


#8 Wickenheiser (12-1)

The second filly in this field is coming off a solid second behind Elysian Field in the Woodbine Oaks. I was a big fan of hers that day and needed her for a big score and she got a really good trip, but was clearly second best to the winner. She got a fast pace to chase and made a big move into contention, but at the top of the stretch she was only a length or two behind the winner and was never able to make up any ground on that rival even on the gallop out. She should be sitting on a peak effort as this is just her third start of the year and there’s a good chance she’ll get another great setup in this big field. I love her chances to hit the board and pick up the pieces late, but I’ll be keying her underneath since I have a hard time envisioning her turning the tables on Elysian Field


#9 Silent Miracle (30-1)

Speedy gelding looks to be in tough in this spot. He was able to breakthrough last time with a two-turn victory against starter foes, but he was completely with the race flow that day as nobody was able to make up any ground from the back. To his credit, he did pull away a bit from the field so maybe he is on the improve. The other problems are that he’s probably not fast enough to make the front against these rivals, and even if he does there are several to his outside who should pressure him throughout. He also has to find a way to make up several lengths on Stanley House.


#10 Midnight In Malibu (30-1)

Midnight Lute colt finally put it all together last time at a huge number when he closed from the back to win at 32-1 against allowance foes. The waters get much deeper today and he’ll have to continue to improve as he only received a 94 Timeform US speed figure. It’s probably going to take something around 110 to win this race so he’ll need to take a big leap forward today. However, Attard is really tightening the screws on this guy as he worked 6 furlongs in 1:13 and then came right back and worked another 6 furlongs in a sizzling 1:10 and 2. It seems like they’re in it to win it, but he’s not for me in this spot. 


#11 Touch N’Ride (12-1)

Lightly raced colt earned a massive figure (107) in start number two as the two turns and switch to the synthetic seemed to be to his liking. That number is the co-highest in the field and you can certainly argue he’s got more upside than the rest. There’s no denying his talent, I just think this is too much too soon. He got a perfect trip last time and that is highly unlikely to be the case in this bulky field, especially with all the speed lined up to his outside. He reminds me of Taiba when he was thrown to the wolves in just his third career start. He’s probably the one you want in the future, but I’ll let him beat me in this spot. 


 #12 Cool Kiss (30-1)

He ran better than it may appear on paper when he finished second in the Plate Trial. He was three wide on the first turn and four wide on the far turn, but still stayed on well to get up for second. He’s also the only runner that closed from the back of the pack, the winner wired the field and everyone else that finished close was sitting closer to the front. He’ll have to find a way to turn the tables on the rival directly to his outside, but expect that runner to have a tougher time of it up front. He’s stalked the pace successfully going one turn before, so I don’t think he necessarily has to come from the clouds and he’s basically paired up speed figures (Timeform US) which suggests he could take a big step forward today. The switch to Wilson can’t hurt and I think this is the one that could post a huge upset and absolutely could spice up the exotics. 


#13 Paramount Prince (10-1)

I was a big fan of this runner going into the Plate Trial and he didn’t disappoint when he drew off to dominate that field at a generous 11-1. I have my doubts he’ll be able to replicate that performance today. There was very little speed on paper that day and that’s pretty much how the race played out as the pace was honest, but uncontested and he had things his own way. That won’t be the case in the King’s Plate and he’ll likely be under pressure on all sides throughout this race. I also have my doubts about him turning the tables on Kaukokaipuu and even though he dominated that last race, we didn’t see any improvement in the speed figure department. 


#14 Twowaycrossing (30-1)

I’m not really sure where this runner’s last performance came from, but somebody must’ve liked him since his odds were cut in half at the gate before he posted a mild upset. Prior to that he had been finishing up the track in several allowance races on the grass so maybe he’s better on the synthetic? He’s one that does his best running from off the pace so at least he’ll get some pace to run at. Still, there appear to be better closers than him so I’ll take him on today. 


#15 Kaukokaipuu (6-1)

This colt has really come into his own as a three year old as he’s run better and better with each passing start. He’s done his best running from just off the pace and could get a nice stalking trip in the clear from this outside post. Two back he comfortably defeated Paramount Prince going seven furlongs, who returned to dominate the Plate Trial by over five lengths. Last time he stretched out to two turns and ran an excellent second to Turf King, who I think is very talented and would be the horse to beat in here. He was well clear of the third place finisher that day and just ran into a better horse for the W. My only concern is I’m not sure he wants to go this far since we didn’t really see an improvement in speed figures with the stretch out. Still, I think he’s as talented as anyone in here and deserves a long look. 


#16 El Cohete (50-1)

Another gelding that is likely to be a pace factor, but I have a tough time envisioning him making some noise in this spot. He’s been facing lesser rivals his last couple starts and could not have had easier leads in both races, yet he couldn’t get the job done in either spot and lost to today’s rival Twowaycrossing. The post is brutal and I think this is simply too tall a task at this stage. 


#17 Moon Landing (20-1)

Another that wasn’t done any favors with this brutal post position and he’s tough to endorse based on his stakes form. Two back he finished far behind today’s rivals Kaukokaipuu and Paramount Prince going seven furlongs and prior to that he finished ninth in a stakes race at Turfway. He perked up a bit last time against allowance foes to finish third, but he was still beaten by today’s rival Midnight in Malibu. 


Just in case we somehow get another Rich Strike scenario, I wanted to make sure I at least mention the also-eligibles, and I actually wouldn’t be shocked if one of them makes some noise. 


#18 Enjoythesilent (30-1)

I’ve backed this guy in his last couple starts based on his smashing maiden score, but he’s disappointed both times against lesser. He hasn’t exactly had great set-ups either time, but he really had no excuse to be beaten by Twowaycrossing last time. However, to my eye he runs like a horse that will love the mile and a quarter distance and he’s still pretty lightly raced so I don’t think we’ve seen his best yet. Obviously he’ll have to navigate this post position if he draws in, but I won’t be shocked if he outruns his odds and sneaks into the exotics. 

#19 Runaway Charlie (50-1)

This maiden looks outclassed if he was able to draw into the field. His two starts this year have been okay, and he did take a big step forward last time when he stretched out on the synthetic. He was no match for the winner that day, but at least she came back to dominate an allowance field so it’s not like he lost to a bad runner. The big issue is that he’s still a maiden and he’ll be stuck wayyyy out here if he draws in, which seems like too much right now, but you can definitely look for him at a lower level. 

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