06/22/2006 12:00AM

Apprentices take first shot at Plate

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Hot Deputy, a longshot for Sunday's $1 million Queen's Plate, trains at Woodbine on Wednesday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Last year, apprentice jockeys Emma-Jayne Wilson and Justin Stein finished one-two in the balloting for their Sovereign Award category and one-three in the Eclipse Award vote.

On Sunday, both Wilson and Stein will be competing in their first and last Queen's Plates as apprentice riders, although because the race is a stakes they will not be able to claim their five-pound allowances.

Wilson will lose her "bug" on Aug. 11, while Stein's allowance will expire Aug. 4.

Wilson, 24, will ride Bridgecut in the $1 million for owners Eugene and Laura Melnyk and trainer David Bell. Stein, 26, has the mount on Ascot Bill for owner Les Pereira and trainer Steve Attard.

On this occasion, Stein would seem to have the best chance of success, as Ascot Bill finished a closing second in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial while Bridgecut comes off a third-place effort in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles.

Stein has ridden in 43 stakes races and won seven, with all of those successes coming at Hastings in Vancouver. His biggest wins have come aboard Monashee, who captured the British Columbia Oaks and the Ballerina, both Grade 3 races worth $178,000.

The Queen's Plate will be Stein's first experience in a $1 million race; the most lucrative event he has participated in was the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, where he finished second aboard Sweet Breanna.

Stein tested the waters here last fall and took the plunge this spring, moving east with his wife and young son.

"I was just very, very excited to be at Woodbine and to witness the Plate firsthand," said Stein. "Then I ended up with a mount, and it's not just any horse. It's Ascot Bill, and he's live.

"It's a big deal. I'm enjoying every aspect of the Queen's Plate festivities."

Wilson has ridden in 59 stakes races and recorded 4 wins, all here at Woodbine. Her biggest score came aboard Classic Stamp last fall's Grade 2, $373,100 Canadian. She also rode Classic Stamp in the $1 million E.P. Taylor, finishing ninth.

"Being a racing fan in Canada, I'd understood and appreciated what the Queen's Plate is," said Wilson. "But now that I'm riding in the race I'm thinking, this is the Queen's Plate. I'm very, very excited.

"But when it comes down to it," she added, "when the horses are loading into the gate, I'm just going to treat it like any other race."

Keogh sends Last Answer in Singspiel

Trainer Mike Keogh, who sent out Queen's Plate winners Wando (2003) and Woodcarver (1999) for owner-breeder Gustav Schickedanz, will be a spectator for the big race this time around.

Keogh, however, will be represented in one of the stakes races on Sunday's undercard with Last Answer, also owned and bred by Schickedanz, set to compete in the $100,000 Singspiel.

Last Answer will be making just his second start of the season in the Singspiel, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward.

His only appearance this year came on May 14 in a one-mile turf allowance that was a prep for the May 28 Connaught Cup.

"I entered him in the Connaught, but I scratched him," said Keogh. "I only entered him because we had that virus going around. I thought the race might fall apart, but it didn't."

Keogh subsequently entered Last Answer in a fourth-level allowance and in the prep for the Dominion Day Stakes, but neither race filled.

Still, the trainer expects Last Answer to make his presence felt in the Singspiel.

"He always runs good, other than last year's Canadian International," said Keogh, who watched Last Answer struggle home last of 10 over 1 1/2 miles of yielding turf in that Grade 1, $2 million feature. "He was obviously overmatched, and he just couldn't handle that soft turf."

A field of seven has been entered for the Singspiel.

Plate to be televised on TSN

The Queen's Plate will be televised by TSN for the first time this year, in a one-hour show beginning at 5:30 p.m.

TSN announcer Rod Black will be joined by Woodbine analyst Jim Bannon, Jeff Bratt, Sandy Hawley, and Renee Kierans.

Woodbine announcer Dan Loiselle will be calling his 20th Queen's Plate on the telecast.

Post time for the Plate, the 10th of 11 races on the card, is set for 6:07 p.m. Post time for the day's last race, the $100,000 Charlie Barley, is 6:46.

Advance betting starts Saturday

Advance wagering on the Queen's Plate program will be available beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday. Pick three, win four, and pick seven pools will not open until the conclusion of Saturday's live program.

Woodbine received special permission from the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency to offer superfecta wagering on all races with a minimum of eight betting interests (seven for stakes races) on Queen's Plate Day.

Races 1, 3, and 6 on Sunday's card are the only ones that will not offer superfectas.

The field

Queen's Plate
Purse: $1 million; 1 1/4 miles

1EdenwoldE. Ramsammy12-1
2Atlas ShrugsC. Fraser20-1
3Shillelagh SlewD. Luciani8-1
4Thinking Out LoudJ. McAleney30-1
5SterwinsJ. Velazquez6-1
6Ascot BillJ. Stein20-1
7Pyramid ParkS. Callaghan30-1
8MalakoffT. Kabel3-1
9Wanna RunnerV. Espinoza9-5
10Pipers ThunderR. Sabourin10-1
11Hot DeputyC. Montpellier50-1
12CifercatR. Dos Ramos50-1
13BridgecutE. Wilson50-1

* All starters carry 126 pounds
* Odds by track
* Blinkers off: Thinking Out Loud
* Television: TSN 5:30-6:30 p.m.