06/07/2010 12:00AM

Artic Fern sharp in Plate tune-up


Artic Fern solidified his status as a key contender for the July 4 Queen's Plate with a 2 1/4-length score under second-level allowance conditions here Saturday.

After stalking the pace of multiple stakes-winning 8-year-old True Metropolitan, Artic Fern moved to the lead inside the final furlong and widened without his regular rider, David Clark, ever cocking his whip.

Winning for the third time in as many starts this season, Artic Fern showed a new dimension after leading throughout both a maiden race at 6 1/2 furlongs and a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles

"It was nice to get the bounce out of the way, and give him a month to the Queen's Plate," said trainer Mike Keogh. "Originally I wanted to train him up to the Plate. Fitness-wise he was already there, the way he galloped out after his first two-turn race. But I talked to David, who said he was still a little green, and we decided to give him another start."

Artic Fern earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 90 for his score on Saturday after being awarded a 97 for his May 23 victory.

Dark Cloud Dancer learns a lesson

Dark Cloud Dancer, another Queen's Plate aspirant, tried two turns for the first time in a first-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles here Sunday.

Originally scheduled for turf, the race was moved to Polytrack and Dark Cloud Dancer raced in traffic around the turn under Patrick Husbands before closing on the outside, only to see his bid fall a half-length short of upsetter Village Dancer.

"We were trying to teach him something," said trainer Mark Frostad. "Patrick took him off a slow pace, and he went wide around the turn. He was giving the winner seven pounds, and he ran well. He'll get a lot out of that."

Frostad already has Hotep, runner-up in the Marine Stakes, headed for the Queen's Plate and plans to run Giant's Tomb in the $150,000 Plate Trial here Sunday.

Husbands is the regular rider of all three horses.