Updated on 09/17/2011 1:55PM

A Bit O'Gold favored in 145th Plate

Email
Michael Burns Photo
Niigon (left), one of two Queen's Plate entrants for trainer Eric Coatrieux, finished second in the Plate Trial despite a less than ideal trip.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Catherine Day Phillips will try to become the first female trainer to win the $1 million on Sunday when she saddles favored A Bit O'Gold in the 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

A field of 13 was drawn for the 145th running of the Plate, which heads a superb 11-race card at Woodbine. The supporting stakes are the $219,000 Highlander and the $108,000 Charlie Barley. There will be superfecta wagering on the Plate, and pick six betting will encompass races 5 through 10.

The Plate is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. It will be followed by the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie on July 18, and the Breeders' Stakes here Aug. 8. A $500,000 bonus will be awarded to the owner of any horse who sweeps the series.

A chunky chestnut by Gold Fever, A Bit O'Gold won 3 of 4 starts at 2, including the Coronation Futurity. He is owned by The Two Bit Racing Stable, a nine-member syndicate.

A Bit O'Gold finished second when he came off the sidelines May 8 in the Queenston Stakes. He put it all together three weeks ago, winning the nine-furlong Plate Trial Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths while earning his second straight Beyer Figure in the mid-90's.

"He left there a little flat-footed in the Queenston," said Day Phillips, "but he raced up into contention quickly, and was very game to drive on for second. He ran a better-organized race in the Plate Trial. He made a huge move from the three-eighths pole to the quarter pole, and finished strongly."

Day Phillips said she is content with leading up to the Plate. "He came back and had a very similar breeze to his pre-Plate Trial breeze," she said.

Jono Jones will break A Bit O'Gold from post 10.

Copper Trail was supplemented to the Plate for $15,000 on May 15, the day before he won his season opener. He finished second two weeks ago in the nine-furlong Victoria Park Stakes.

Trainer Jim Day, the father of Day Phillips, believes that Copper Trail can handle the quick comeback into the Plate.

"He got a seasoning race under his belt in the Victoria Park," said Day. "I think the two-week time frame from that race to the Plate is okay."

Trainer Eric Coatrieux will saddle two royally bred contenders owned by Chiefswood Stable, Niigon and Alleged Ruler.

Niigon, an Unbridled colt, was steadied in traffic heading into the far turn in the Trial, and then closed along a dead rail to finish second under Robert Landry. Landry also rode Alleged Ruler to a come-from-behind maiden score in the colt's third start a month ago.

"They're both very talented horses," said Landry, who will ride Niigon on Sunday. "They're both stayers. Niigon's a little more seasoned, which might give him a bit of an edge, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit if [Alleged Ruler] beat him."

Slade Callaghan inherits the mount on Alleged Ruler, a handsome son of A.P. Indy.

Trainer Mark Casse is running two horses owned by Eugene and Laura Melnyk, Long Pond and Kent Ridge, who is owned in part by Bill and Iris Bristow. Both are coming off an allowance victory.

Casse said he wouldn't be surprised to see either of his runners on the lead Sunday. "Both horses are very versatile," Casse noted. "Either one could be the pacemaker. If they don't run fast enough early, I think Kent Ridge will be on the lead."

Long Pond will be ridden by Toronto native Stewart Elliott, the regular rider of Smarty Jones.

Night Sky, who is getting Lasix for the first time, defeated older allowance opposition in his first attempt around two turns June 4.

"He has tactical speed, and I know he'll be close to the pace," said Jim McAleney, who will ride Night Sky.

Post time for the first race Sunday is 12:25 p.m. Eastern. The Plate, which is the ninth race, is scheduled for 5:07 p.m.

Sunday's weather forecast is sunny and clear, and a fast track is probable. Television coverage is on The Score, from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

The field

Queen's Plate
Purse: $1 million, 1 1/4 miles

PPHORSEJOCKEYODDS
1Long PondS. Elliott 8-1
2Copper TrailN. Somsanith9-2
3Will He CrowS. Bahen50-1
4 Archer FleetS. Husbands50-1
5Strike Em HardE. Ramsammy30-1
6Alleged RulerS. Callaghan 20-1
7Night SkyJ. McAleney6-1
8Kent RidgeP. Husbands20-1
9Silver TicketT. Kabel10-1
10A Bit O'GoldJ. Jones 5-2
11His SmoothnessJ. McKnight 50-1
12Just In Case JimmyR. Dos Ramos20-1
13NiigonR. Landry 7-2

* All carry 126 pounds

* Odds by Ron Gierkink