06/16/2009 11:00PM

Attfield, Frostad yet again armed for Plate


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainers Roger Attfield and Mark Frostad certainly are no strangers to success in the Queen's Plate.

Attfield sent out Not Bourbon for his record-equaling eighth Queen's Plate victory last year, while Frostad has saddled three Queen's Plate winners, the latest being Dancethruthedawn in 2001.

On Sunday, Frostad will be sending out the Plate Trial winner, Eye of the Leopard, while Attfield will counter with Plate Trial third Rapid Release in what should prove to be a competitive renewal of the $1 million race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Neither colt was even on the Queen's Plate radar heading into 2009, as Eye of the Leopard had not started, while Rapid Release had campaigned in relative obscurity at a series of mostly minor tracks in England.

Eye of the Leopard, owned and bred by Sam-Son Farm, did come with an eye-catching pedigree, being a son of A.P. Indy and Eye of the Sphynx, who won the Woodbine Oaks.

"He was here for a while as a 2-year-old, and he breezed a few times," said Frostad. "We liked him, but he was just a big, backward boy."

Eye of the Leopard headed to Sam-Son's Florida farm last August and joined Frostad at Fair Grounds, where he breezed for the first time on Jan. 26.

"We'd hoped to get a start or two into him down there, to get him ready for the Queen's Plate," said Frostad. "Then, he got sick. He had an upper respiratory infection. He was out for two straight weeks, with no training, and we brought him back slowly."

Eye of the Leopard breezed again at Fair Grounds in late February and finally made it to the post on April 15 in a seven-furlong maiden race at Keeneland.

"That was just to get a start into him - we were still backed up," said Frostad. "We didn't want to go two turns with him his very first time out."

Eye of the Leopard finished eighth there, beaten 10 3/4 lengths, but Frostad was not discouraged.

"He jumped out of there, got some dirt in his face, and backed off," said Frostad. "He was running wide, but came on and passed a couple of horses late. It was a good learning experience for him."

Frostad, with time still of the essence, brought Eye of the Leopard back to Woodbine and entered him in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race on May 10. With blinkers on, Eye of the Leopard dueled throughout and was a convincing 2 3/4-length winner.

"Three weeks later, he was in the Plate Trial," said Frostad, who watched Eye of the Leopard rally wide there under returning rider Eurico Rosa da Silva to prevail by a neck over the since-sidelined Southdale.

"He's light on seasoning," said Frostad. "I would have liked to run him a couple more times, before the big race.

"But, he's improving every time. Hopefully, he's improved enough that he'll run a big race on Sunday."

Rapid Release had run seven times as a 2-year-old, compiling a record of 1-3-1, which included a couple of second-place finishes on synthetic surfaces.

Attfield actually had been the underbidder, at $125,000, when Rapid Release was knocked down for $127,000 at the Tattersalls sale last October. But winning bidder David Mueller, who campaigns in California as Dolantori Racing, elected to turn the colt over to Attfield with the hope of capitalizing on his Canadian-bred status.

"He was shipped from England to New York, then down to me at Payson Park," said Attfield. "He arrived in good shape. I just gave him a little time to acclimatize."

Rapid Release had his first breeze for Attfield on Feb. 12, and had continued prepping steadily on a weekly basis before joining his trainer on his annual return to Woodbine via Keeneland.

"My intention was to get him ready to run in a race at Keeneland, and get him to the Plate if he was good enough," he said.

Rapid Release showed some late run in his North American debut, finishing fourth in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf in Lexington.

Attfield then ran Rapid Release twice within a one-week span at Woodbine, watching him end on the fringes in a pair of first-level Polytrack allowances.

The trainer's stated object was to give himself and jockey Jono Jones a chance to get a better handle on the colt, plus four weeks to put the knowledge to use in preparation for the Plate Trial.

The plan certainly seemed to pay dividends in the Plate Trial, as Rapid Release rallied from off a slow pace to end 2 1/4 lengths behind Eye of the Leopard in the field of nine.

"He ran creditably enough in there to go on to the next step," said Attfield.

"He's not very big - he's a fairly slight horse - but he's dead fit. His training from the Trial has been better than he's trained at any time since I've had him.

"And the way he ran in the Trial, I don't think the mile and a quarter will be a problem."

Tell It As It Is to get Delaware test

Tell It As It Is, trained here by Jim Smith, has been entered in Saturday's Grade 3, $125,000 Obeah at Delaware Park.

The Obeah, a 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares, is a prep for the Grade 2, $1 million Delaware Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on July 19.

"She ran good in the Falls City, at a mile and an eighth on Churchill Downs last fall," said Smith, who had watched Tell It As It Is finish third in that Grade 2 race over 1 1/8 miles. "This race should be a perfect test, to see if she'll fit in the Delaware Handicap."

Jeremy Rose will ride Tell It As It Is in the Obeah.

Seminar to focus on Plate works

Jennifer Morrison, Woodbine's oddsmaker and a regular contributor to Daily Racing Form, will host a Queen's Plate workout seminar in the trackside tent beginning at 8:30 here Saturday morning.

Morrison's guests will include Corey Fraser, who has the mount on Active Duty in the Queen's Plate; exercise rider Robin Platts, who won four Queen's Plates in his days as a jockey; and handicapper Jim Clark.

Pre-registration is available at (888) 675-7223.