05/29/2008 11:00PM

Are Casse's maidens Plate worthy?


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - While the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial will be squarely in the spotlight here at Woodbine on Sunday, there is another race on the undercard that could have a bearing on the lineup for the $1 million Queen's Plate.

Race 2, a 1 1/8-mile route for maidens, has attracted no less than seven Canadian-bred 3-year-olds who are under consideration for the June 22 Queen's Plate.

That group includes Grazettes Landing and One Adam Twelve, both of whom are trained by Mark Casse.

Grazettes Landing has run three times. Last year, Grazettes Landing finished third in a six-furlong maiden race and second in the restricted Frost King over seven furlongs before returning with another runner-up effort at six furlongs here May 4.

One Adam Twelve finished second when stretching out to 1 1/16 miles for his second start at 2 and has run third and second in two seven-furlong outings here this spring.

"We're going to test the waters," said Casse. "This will give me an opportunity to know if they belong in the Queen's Plate or not."

Silver Jag, D. Flutie, Harvest Home, and the entry of Handsome Blue and Jungle Brew are the other Queen's Plate nominees in the field of 12 maidens.

Casse confirms two ready for Plate

Regardless of what transpires on Sunday, Casse already is planning to send out both Palmers and Took the Time for the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate.

Both horses were nominated to the Plate Trial but instead ran in recent allowance races here.

Palmers finished second in a first-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles here last Saturday, rallying to make the lead in midstretch but then yielding in the final furlong to be beaten 1 3/4 lengths.

The race was the first without blinkers for Palmers, who had run a similar race when third three weeks earlier under regular rider Patrick Husbands.

"It's the second time he made a big run and made the lead and another horse beat him," said Casse. "He has about a three-sixteenths of a mile to quarter-mile run, and you just have to time it perfectly."

"But, I was quite happy with his race, and it gives him a month before the Plate."

Took the Time was purchased privately by Earle Mack after winning first time out at six furlongs here last November, and he returned with a second-place finish in a first-level allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs on April 19.

Then, in what will stand as his final Queen's Plate prep, Took the Time stretched out to 1 1/16 miles and finished second to the sharp 5-year-old Michael's Bad Boy in a first-level allowance here May 18.

"It's tough for a 3-year-old to beat older horses in his first start around two turns," said Casse. "Our horse rated very nicely, and was running on the end. That's what we were looking for; I was extremely happy."

The trainer also is pleased that Took the Time will have five weeks off heading into the Queen's Plate.

"It's actually been perfect," said Casse. "Everything we've done with him, to this point, has been planning on the Queen's Plate. And, I don't think the mile and a quarter will be any problem whatsoever for him."

Husbands has the call on Palmers for the Queen's Plate but Took the Time's rider has yet to be determined.

Shilla, Victory Romance prep for Oaks

Shilla and Victory Romance both had their final major tune-ups for the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks here on Friday morning.

With regular rider David Clark in the irons, Shilla worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds while going in company with stablemates Delaforce and Havubeentoldtoday, who recorded the same clocking.

"All three of them stayed together, and they did it nice and easy," said assistant trainer Martha Gonzalez, whose husband, Nick, trains Shilla.

"She came back on the bounce, scoped clean and everything, so we're ready to go."

Shilla won the six-furlong Fanfreluche here last year and is perfect in two starts this season, with scores in the five-furlong La Voyageuse on April 5 and the seven-furlong Fury on April 27.

The 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks will be her first try around two turns.

Victory Romance, with jockey Emile Ramsammy up, worked six furlongs in 1:11.40.

"It was a little quicker than we had planned but she did it well within herself and she came back good," said trainer Josie Carroll. "We're good to go."

Victory Romance, an Alberta-bred, ended on the fringes in her first two starts here last summer but then shipped to Northlands Park to capture the restricted Filly Sale Stakes.

In her first start this season, in the six-furlong Star Shoot here April 13, Victory Romance faltered to finish last of six. But she rebounded in her last start here May 17, showing good speed while opening a long lead in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles before yielding to finish second to older rival Stolen Humor.

Authenicat may get an Oaks shot

Carroll has a possible second starter for the Woodbine Oaks in Authenicat.

After faltering to finish sixth of seven as the choice in the seven-furlong Lady Angela here May 24, Authenicat came back to the barn with her lungs full of mucus.

"We just scoped her this morning, and she's cleared up," said Carroll. The trainer intended to work Authenicat on Saturday and make a decision on her Oaks status thereafter.

Authenicat was making her second start of the season in the Lady Angela after finishing second in the Star Shoot.

* Woodbine is moving to a five-day live racing schedule, with the first Thursday program of the season set for this week.