06/13/2002 11:00PM

Allende shooting for King Edward


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Just a shade less than two years ago, Allende finished fourth in the Queen's Plate.

But grass is strictly Allende's game these days, and Sunday he will be looking to take home some of the $335,700 up for grabs in the 1 1/8-mile King Edward Breeders' Cup.

Allende, a homebred owned by George Strawbridge Jr. and trained by Mac Benson, had his best campaign at 4, becoming a stakes winner in the $273,500 Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy and earning $251,532 on the season.

"It was a big year for him," acknowledged Benson, who this week learned that he is among the 2002 inductees to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

"I'd castrated him, from his 3- to 4-year-old year, and that made a tremendous difference."

Benson had hoped to get Allende to last fall's Grade 1 Canadian International, a 1 1/2-mile turf race here worth $1.5 million.

But Allende ended a disappointing sixth in the Niagara, which is the final local stakes prep for the International, and was put away for the season.

"He pulled a suspensory," said Benson. "He could have kept on going; it wasn't that serious. But I wanted him for this year, and he's a gelding, so I don't have to try to 'make' him or anything."

After wintering with Benson at Payson Park in Florida, Allende returned to Woodbine and made his seasonal bow in the May 25 Connaught Cup.

While Allende finished sixth there, beaten 9 1/4 lengths, he did make some late headway, and Benson was pleased with the effort.

"I was very happy with his race," said Benson. "It was too short for him, but it's a tough thing here, when you've had a horse that's run through his conditions, to get a race for him.

"He's a horse that loves to go a distance of ground. This race might not be far enough for him, either."

In any case, the Grade 2 King Edward will allow Allende to take another step toward the Grade 2 Hong Kong Trophy, a 1 3/8-mile turf race here July 21 that now offers a purse of $300,000 added.

With a Star may save day

Benson and Strawbridge, whose hopes for this year's Queen's Plate suffered a severe blow when Foregone went to the sidelines this winter with a tendon injury, still have With a Star eligible for the race June 23.

With a Star, who like Allende is a son of With Approval, could well see action on Queen's Plate Day. But according to Benson, the gelding is more likely to start in a maiden race at 1 1/8 miles on turf than in the 1 1/4-mile Plate on the main track.

While winless in three starts at 2, With a Star was closing on each occasion and was beaten by just three-quarters of a length when he stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for his last outing.

But after finishing eighth in his seasonal bow over 1 1/16 miles of slop here May 12, With a Star was switched over to the turf and rallied strongly to finish second, beaten three-quarters of a length by the 4-year-old Wires, at 1 1/16 miles here last Saturday.

"He ran big the other day," said Benson. As for a Queen's Plate start, Benson said, "If I thought he'd run that well on dirt, I'd run him there, but it's hard to justify running a horse in the Plate off a maiden grass race."

Oddly enough, noted Benson, the winner of the Queen's Plate in which Allende participated was emerging from a race almost identical to With a Star's.

Scatter the Gold finished a closing second, beaten a neck by Master Stuart, in a 1 1/16-mile maiden turf race three weeks before recording his first lifetime victory in the 2000 Plate.

Husbands picks up new mount

Jockey Patrick Husbands is back in the Plate picture, having been engaged to ride Forever Grand for trainer and co-owner Bob Tiller and his partner, Frank DiGiulio.

Last week, Husbands had picked up the mount on Wolverine, who had finished fourth in the Plate Trial but suffered a fractured hind cannon-bone working for the first time under his new rider last Monday.

Wolverine was operated on by Dr. Darryl Bonder at the nearby Toronto Equine Hospital.

"It was an ugly-looking break," said Reade Baker, who trains Wolverine and owns the horse in partnership with Derek Cornelius.

"But Dr. Bonder did a fantastic job - he got it together, an it looks great. It's greatly increased his chances of returning at 100 percent next year."

Meanwhile, Husbands will be looking for his first Plate win with Forever Grand, who finished second to the talented Kentucky-bred Tails of the Crypt in the 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park here June 8.

Tiller, also seeking his first Plate win, sent out Win City to finish second for DiGiulio as the favorite in last year's running, which was won by Dancethruthedawn.

Heading into the weekend the 11 other confirmed candidates for the Plate, in alphabetical order with jockeys, were Adjalah, Richard Dos Ramos; Anglian Prince, Jim McAleney; Barbeau Ruckus, Dino Luciani; Bravely, Constant Montpellier; Classic Mike, Jono Jones; Cree Power, Emile Ramsammy; Ford Every Stream, Todd Kabel; Mountain Beacon, Robert Landry; Shaws Creek, Jake Barton; T J's Lucky Moon, Steven Bahen; and Twice Bid, Mickey Walls.