06/12/2007 11:00PM

Attfield optimistic about Include Us


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Roger Attfield has won the Queen's Plate seven times, one shy of the record number of winners saddled by Harry Giddings Jr. between 1911 and 1942.

But Attfield never has won the Queen's Plate with a maiden, which is what he will be attempting to do with Include Us here in Woodbine's $1 million showpiece for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds on June 24.

Include Us has raced six times, with four of those outings coming this season.

"He ran twice around two turns at Keeneland, and ran around two turns here in the Marine and the Plate Trial," said Attfield, who owns Include Us in partnership with Bill Werner and Mickey and Phyllis Canino. "He can't be any fitter than he is right now. The question is whether he's good enough."

Fifth-place finishes in the Grade 3 Marine at 1 1/16 miles and the Plate Trial at 1 1/8 miles have left Attfield convinced that Include Us has more to offer, and that the 1 1/4 miles of the Queen's Plate will be well within his range.

The last horse to win the Queen's Plate as a maiden was Scatter the Gold in 2000.

Include Us tuned up for the Queen's Plate on Wednesday, breezing five furlongs in 1:01 under regular rider Robert Landry while going in company with maiden 3-year-old filly stablemate Hip Hip Hooray.

"They just sat together," said Attfield. "I don't need anything fancy from him. He's not a big work horse, anyway. I just wanted a 'happy' breeze for him."

Two out-of-town spots for Red Birkin

Attfield is eyeing a couple of out-of-town turf engagements for Red Birkin, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old filly.

Unplaced in her debut on the main track here late last fall, Red Birkin has run well in four turf outings this season.

After winning her maiden and then finishing third in a first-level allowance at Gulfstream, Red Birkin finished a close third in Keeneland's Appalachian and then captured a first-level allowance here.

Attfield plans to run Red Birkin in the Grade 3, $150,000 Boiling Springs at 1 1/16 miles at Monmouth on Juneo30. All being well, she will go on to the $200,000 Virginia Oaks at 1o1/8 miles at Colonial Downs on Julyo21.

On Wednesday morning, Red Birkin breezed a very easy five furlongs in 1:03.20 on the turf training course while accompanied by a maiden 4-year-old filly stablemate, More to Prove.

Marco Be Good preps for Highlander

Marco Be Good also worked five furlongs on the turf training track here Wednesday, going in 59 seconds under regular rider Justin Stein.

Racing for the in-form barn of trainer John Ross, Marco Be Good will look for his second straight win in the Grade 3, $200,000 Highlander at six furlongs on turf on Queen's Plate Day.

Marco Be Good has finished second in each of his two starts this season, the first coming in the six-furlong New Providence for Ontario-sired runners and the second in the Highlander prep won by the streaking Stradivinsky.

"We've got our work cut out, with Stradivinsky in there," said Ross. "But, I can safely tell you, Marco's as good as he's ever been right now. I think the timing's right but he's peaking at the right time. I'm very happy with him at this stage."

Barilko's comeback put on hold

Any way you look at it, it's been a tough year for Dave Dwyer.

Barilko, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old gelding who is owned and trained by Dwyer, was an undefeated winner of four races last year, including three stakes here, and was the runner-up in the Sovereign Award voting for his division.

But, Barilko now is facing a lengthy layoff before even making it back to the races this season.

"He strained a tendon; he didn't tear it," said Dwyer. "Unfortunately, he was only two weeks away from running. He was working like a monster, and doing it easy. He'll need six to eight months off."

Williteverend, a Kentucky-bred colt who was an impressive winner of his only start for owner-trainer Dwyer here at 2, also is on the sidelines for an extended period.

"He banged his leg and had a little spot on the outside of a tendon," said Dwyer. "I had him sold, for a lot of money, before that happened. He's healed now, but I'm going to give him a few extra months."

Dwyer hopes to have Williteverend back by mid-October and will train him over the winter in anticipation of a spring 2008 campaign.