Strike Me Down
● A son of Tapit, one of North America's most high-profile sires, Strike Me Down boasts a record of one win, two seconds and a third in four lifetime starts. He's also coming into the big race in solid form for five-time Plate winner Sam-Son Farm, and trainer Graham Motion.
● The grey's latest effort was a runner-up performance in the Tale of the Cat Stakes at Monmouth on June 2. Leading at the top of the lane, Strike Me Down, sent off as the slight choice, lost the lead late in the 1 1/16-mile event over the turf.
● "For raw talent, I think this horse is the most talented," said Motion of the colt who finished second in last year's Cup & Saucer Stakes at Woodbine, the same venue he broke his maiden at this May. "He just needs to try and put it together in the afternoon. It's kind of what you saw in his last race at Monmouth when he made the lead and looked like he was home free and then just kind of got to loafing."
● As for the personality of lifetime earner of $109,100, Motion notes it's a 'like father, like son' connection. "He's a Tapit, so he can be a little bit of a menace. They (Motion also sends out Sam-Son colour bearer Say The Word) are both somewhat nervous horses."
● Strike Me Down will be sporting a new look – hardly a fashion statement on a day that showcases high fashion in the grandstand – for Sunday.
● "I'm going to try something different with him. We're going to run him with a hood (over his ears), which might help him. He can be quite fussy and nervous in post parade. They all have their little quirks."
● Strike Me Down's dam, Strike Softly, had a short, but impressive career. In 12 races, the Sam-Son homebred was a multiple stakes winner. The Ontario-bred chestnut finished her racing life with three straight scores, including two graded victories in 2007: the Grade 3 Hendrie and the Grade 2 Nassau.
● "It's definitely a race that's been on my radar, a race that I'd love to say I've won," said Motion. "Those historic races like the Queen's Plate – those are the ones that you'd love to win. I'm very fortunate to have these horses for Sam-Son, two legitimate horses. It's exciting."
Owner – Sam-Son Farm
(See Say the Word Bio)
Trainer – Graham Motion (www.hgrahammotion.com)
Born May 22, 1964 in Cambridge, England, Graham Motion moved to the U.S. with his family in 1980 where he graduated from Kent in Connecticut. Motion worked for trainer Jonathan Sheppard for six years then briefly for Jonathan Pease in France. He returned to the U.S. in 1990 and joined trainer Bernie Bond, taking over the stable upon Bondʼs passing in 1993, then saddling his first winner, Bounding Daisy at Laurel Park later that year. Since then, he's trained several stars, including 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now, 2010 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf champion Shared Account, Animal Kingdom, winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby and 2013 Dubai World Cup, and 2014 Breeders' Cup Turf winner Main Sequence, who enjoyed an undefeated season that earned the then-5-year-old Eclipse honors as champion older male and turf male in addition to being a Horse of the Year finalist. Miss Temple City delivered a win in the 2016 Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile. The primary trainer for Team Valor from late 2010 until April 2013, Motion now operates a public stable in Fair Hill, Maryland. As of June 22, 2,308 career wins and just shy of $118 million in purse earnings.
Jockey – Jose Ortiz
Born in Puerto Rico, Jose Ortiz currently rides on the New York circuit with his older brother Irad Ortiz Jr. The pair made headlines on January 20, 2013 when they won the first seven races on Aqueduct's card with Jose earning three of the victories. In 2015, Ortiz ranked fourth among all North American jockeys by purse earnings with $17,324,023 and seventh by victories with 244. He had already eclipsed both figures the following year by the time the 2016 Breeders' Cup World Championships came around, and he earned his first career Breeders' Cup score when he piloted Oscar Performance to victory in the Juvenile Turf. Ortiz notched his second Breeders' Cup win in 2017 aboard longshot Good Magic in the Juvenile. He led all North American jockeys in earnings for the second consecutive year in 2017, and earned his first Eclipse Award for a campaign that included a classic win (Tapwrit, Belmont Stakes). Ortiz won the riding title at Saratoga for the second year in a row, besting his older brother by five wins in 2017.