07/18/2004 11:00PM

A Bit O'Gold eyes Breeders'; Niigon does not


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - With A Bit O'Gold and Niigon splitting the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, the $500,000 bonus available for a sweep of the series will go unclaimed this year.

A Bit O'Gold rallied to defeat Niigon by a head in the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie Sunday, reversing the order of finish of the Queen's Plate.

But the Breeders' Stakes, the final leg, over 1 1/2 miles on the turf at Woodbine on Aug. 8, still offers bragging rights, not to mention a purse of $500,000.

Neither A Bit O'Gold nor Niigon has raced or worked on turf.

Trainer Catherine Day Phillips, who sent out A Bit O'Gold to win the Prince of Wales for The Two Bit Racing Stable at Fort Erie Sunday, is receptive to the idea of coming back in the Breeders'.

"I think so," said Day Phillips. "He has a low approach, and a flat stride that should suit turf.

"Distance-wise, he should conserve himself early, and the mile and a half shouldn't be a problem."

But Eric Coatrieux, who trains Queen's Plate winner Niigon for Chiefswood Stable, was dubious at the prospect of running in the Breeders'.

"I think he'll stay on this surface for now," said Coatrieux referring to the main track. "There are a few other options he can look at. If we don't have to run on the grass, I don't think we want to."

Coatrieux thinks Niigon still is a work in progress.

"I think he lost the [the Prince of Wales] on his own," said Coatrieux. "Into the stretch, he was looking around a lot. He'll learn from, and improve on that."

Look for new faces in third leg

While A Bit O'Gold and Niigon have proven themselves to be head and shoulders above the other Canadian 3-year-olds in dirt racing, Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad are gearing up for a full assault on the Breeders'.

Heading a list of four Breeders' hopefuls for the outfit is Silver Ticket, who was a 1 3/4-length winner of the Toronto Cup over 1 1/8 miles on the turf here last Saturday.

Silver Ticket had finished eighth in the Queen's Plate in only his second start of the year.

"We had to take the shot at the time, but he's clearly a turf horse," said Frostad, who had sent out Silver Ticket for an impressive entry-level allowance victory over one mile on grass in his only other start this year. "The way he handles turf, he just glides over it, has a lovely stride."

Silver Ticket also showed a new dimension in the Toronto Cup by rating nicely for jockey Todd Kabel, and that bodes well for his Breeders' chances.

Burst of Gold, third in the Toronto Cup, also is Breeders'-bound.

"He'll just keep going," said Frostad. "He wasn't slowing down at all."

Frostad said Rainbows for Luck and Hunt the Rainbow are also Breeders' possibilities.

Rainbows for Luck raced at the Breeders' distance in his last start, finishing third in a first-level allowance race here. Hunt the Rainbow ran second in his 2004 debut and second career start, which came in a 1 1/4-mile maiden turf race here June 27.