West Point Thoroughbreds’ 3-year-old Einstein gelding Scholar Athlete looks to make the grade when he faces 12 Canadian-breds in the $1,000,000 Queen’s Plate on Sunday, July 3 at Woodbine. He’s trainer Graham Motion’s first starter in the first leg of the prestigious Canadian Triple Crown and the third for West Point.
Scholar Athlete pulled an 8-1 upset in a tough Belmont Park allowance race on May 12 under leading jockey Jose Ortiz. He raced for the first time as a gelding that day and also raced with blinkers on for the first time. The equipment changes definitely helped keep the handsome bay more focused, and he wasn’t going to be denied in the stretch.
Listen to Motion talk about Scholar Athlete (around the 1:00 mark) in the NTRA teleconference held on June 28.
Scholar Athlete breezed seven furlongs in company with older horse Seeking Alpha in front of Graham, WPT president Terry Finley and a number of Partners during our open house event on Saturday at Fair Hill Training Center:
“He ran in the Rushaway at Turfway in early April and was really wound up in the paddock and not paying attention during the race, so it made a lot of sense to geld him at that point,” said Motion. “It’s a dramatic move for me to geld a horse and add blinkers, but it certainly seemed to pay dividends. After he ran so big at Belmont, we decided we would just train up to the Queen’s Plate. The Plate Trial was three weeks ago, and I felt if he ran a big race in there, he might not be quite as sharp come July 3. I don’t necessarily think he has to have the lead, but I expect to see him pretty forwardly placed early. It would mean a lot to me to win the Queen’s Plate, it’s a race I’ve always followed.”
Scholar Athlete was purchased by the West Point buying team from breeder Adena Springs at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton 2-Year-Old in Training Sale held at Gulfstream Park. He’s named after Terry and Debbie Finley’s son Ryan, a soccer player who graduated from the University of Notre Dame. Ryan Finley was named to the NSCAA All- American First Team, earned Big East Player of the Year, and currently plays professionally in Sweden.
“We’re all in this game to get to races like the Queen’s Plate,” said Terry Finley. “I was at Fair Hill over the weekend and was very happy with how this dude worked on the Tapeta. He’s not the biggest horse in the world, but is really agile and light on his feet. Almost all of his Partners are making the trip up to Toronto, which is really, really cool. It’s an honor and privilege to participate in such a historic and prestigious race.”