Heavy rain couldn't prevent Midnight Aria from taking the early lead and cruise to victory in Sunday's $1 million Queen's Plate at Woodbine. The 3-year-old colt covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.72 over Woodbine's synthetic main track.
Trained by Nick Gonzalez and ridden by Jesse Campbell, Midnight Aria assumed the lead before going under the wire for the first time in the 154th running of the Queen's Plate.
Owned by Tucci Stables, Midnight Aria set an easy pace with little pressure from the rest of the 12-horse field. Moving into second on the far turn was former Kentucky Derby hopeful Dynamic Sky.
Midnight Aria turned back the challenge from Dynamic Sky and was able to hold off a late running Up With the Birds, the 17-10 favorite.
Sent off as a 16-1 longshot, Midnight Aria posted a half-length victory over Up With the Birds with Dynamic Sky holding on for third and Spring in the Air getting fourth.
Completing the order of finish were Jagger M, His Race to Win, Pyrite Mountain, Nipissing, Kaigun, River Seven, County Lineman and Rackman.
Midnight Aria, claimed for Tucci Stables by the trainer, recorded just his second career victory in nine starts and first stakes win. Winning the Queen's Plate was worth $600,000 to give the colt $663,495 in career earnings.
"We recognized that he was an Ontario-bred and that's always important for us," said Gonzalez. "He's a big, good-looking horse. I saw that he had sold for $80,000 as a yearling (at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale), so I figured he was going to be a good-looking horse. When he came over to the paddock, I sure was pleased with how he looked that day."
Gonzalez earlier won the Queen's Plate in 2010 with Big Red Mike. This was the first Queen's Plate victory for both owner and jockey.
"We didn't have any Queen's Plate visions when we claimed him, but things have turned out pretty good since we got him," Gonzalez noted about Midnight Aria. "We're happy with the way he's improved. His speed figures have gone up every race. He's a big horse and that probably has a lot to do with him improving."
Campbell guided Midnight Aria to a pair of third-place finishes this year in both the Wando and Plate Trial Stakes. The colt broke his maiden in his fourth start at Gulfstream Park in February with Javier Castellano riding.
Midnight Aria returned $35.20, $13.00 and $8.00. Up With The Birds paid $3.90 and $2.80, and Dynamic Sky paid $4.40 to show.