06/16/2006 12:00AM

Ascot Bill puts in solid Plate work


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Ascot Bill didn't get much respect heading into the Plate Trial, but he raised some eyebrows by finishing second at 25-1. He will be looking to take an even bigger step forward in next Sunday's $1 million Queen's Plate at 1 1/4 miles for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

On Friday, Ascot Bill worked six furlongs on the main track in 1:14.60. He ran his first three furlongs in 36.80 seconds and five furlongs in 1:01.80, before galloping out seven furlongs in 1:28 under exercise rider Darren Fortune.

"It was a really good work," said trainer Steve Attard. "I wanted to work him Saturday, but it's supposed to be really hot and muggy, so I worked him today and asked him to do a little more."

Ascot Bill made just his fourth start in the Plate Trial. His only win came in his six-furlong debut last August.

"The Plate will be a tough, tough race," said Attard. "But the mile and a quarter, I know we'll get the distance. I just hope we get a good trip."

Apprentice Justin Stein, who took over as Ascot Bill's regular rider this year, retains the mount for the Queen's Plate.

Wanna Runner jogs over local track

Wanna Runner, the Queen's Plate favorite, had his first taste of Woodbine's main track here Friday, jogging a mile under local exercise rider Serge LeBlanc.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Wanna Runner arrived here early Thursday morning along with groom Roberto Luna.

The leading money winner in the Queen's Plate field, with $566,950, Wanna Runner will be seeking his third straight stakes win after capturing the 1 1/8-mile WinStar Derby at Sunland Park on April 1 and the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby at 1 1/16 miles on May 13.

Unification will pass on Plate

Trainer Eoin Harty has informed Woodbine stakes coordinator Julie Bell that Unification will not be here for the Queen's Plate.

Owned by Darley Stable, Unification journeyed up from New York last season to win his maiden over 6 1/2 furlongs in September and to win the Grade 3 Grey at 1 1/16 miles in October.

After wintering in Dubai, where he had a disappointing three-race campaign, Unification returned to Harty this spring and was considered to have at least a shot at being ready for the Queen's Plate. Recent wet weather in New York held up Unification's training schedule, however, and Harty said he will not rush Unification into the Queen's Plate.

Unification still could appear at Woodbine this summer; he has been nominated to the $150,000 Achievement, a six-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds here July 1.

Seeking Shelter works on turf

Seeking Shelter worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 on the turf training course under regular rider Jono Jones here Friday morning and is slated to make his next start in the $100,000 Charlie Barley on Queen's Plate Day.

The Charlie Barley, a one-mile overnight stakes for 3-year-olds, will require a field of at least five to be carded but shouldn't be in jeopardy.

"We're pretty serious about that race," said trainer Malcolm Pierce. "He's still eligible for an A-other-than, but I wanted to get him back on the grass. I thought that's what he liked best last year."

Seeking Shelter had been under consideration for the Queen's Plate but was declared to be off the trail after running second in a first-level allowance over one mile on the main track here June 2.

Last year, Seeking Shelter won his maiden over 6 1/2 furlong on turf and finished 11th in the Cup and Saucer over 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Seaside Retreat staying home

Seeking Shelter's rivals in the Charlie Barley should include Seaside Retreat, who was slated to ship to Virginia for Saturday's $1 million Colonial Turf Cup but will not be making the trip.

"He just hasn't been as good as I've wanted him to be," said trainer Mark Casse. "I'll keep him here and run him in the Charlie Barley. We'll try to win a race with him, then go from there."

Seaside Retreat has not raced since finishing 10th in the Kentucky Derby on May 6. In his only turf start, Seaside Retreat won impressively over seven furlongs here last Sept. 1.

Year-end winners to be honored

The Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club will honor Woodbine's top performers of 2005 at its annual awards day here Sunday.

Sir Blitz will be the recipient of the Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club's signature award, the claimer of the year.

Emma-Jayne Wilson will be honored as both leading rider and leading apprentice rider.

Sid Attard will be honored as leading trainer, races won, and Sam-Son Farm will be honored as leading owner, money won.

Presentations will be made between races on the turf course, adjacent to the winner's circle.

New training schedule

A revised training schedule will take effect Monday, when Woodbine begins converting its seven-furlong Standardbred oval to a dirt track that will be used while Polytrack is installed in place of the main track this summer.

The main track will be open this week from 5:30 a.m. to 8 a.m., except Saturday, when the hours will be extended to 10 a.m.

Beginning Monday, June 26, there will be no more training on the main track until the Polytrack installation has been completed and the Standardbred track has been changed back to its original state.

The training track will be open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. daily except Queen's Plate Day, June 25, when the closing time will be 10 a.m.

Turf training sessions are scheduled for Wednesday and Friday, from 10 a.m. through 10:45 a.m.

There will be no turf training on Queen's Plate Day.