06/22/2004 12:00AM

Change of plans for His Smoothness

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - His path to the Queen's Plate may have been rocky, but trainer Jim Day said he believes that His Smoothness is back on the right track for Sunday's $1 million Queen's Plate.

The 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate, the first leg of Canada's Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, is expected to attract a field of 14 when entries are taken Friday morning.

His Smoothness, owned by the Come by Chance Stable of Day's mother, Edna Arrow, put the finishing touches on his Plate preparations here at Woodbine on Tuesday morning, working five furlongs in 1:02.20 over a muddy main track.

Exercise rider Emma-Jayne Wilson was aboard for the drill, in which His Smoothness tracked stablemate High Grade Silver, a maiden 3-year-old gelding who was clocked in 1:04.40.

"It was just a cruising breeze," said Day, who also is the breeder of His Smoothness. "He went his last three-eighths or so quite well, and galloped out strong."

His Smoothness had finished his first campaign on a high note, running fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity and then winning his maiden over 1 1/16 miles in the fifth and final start of his campaign.

But after beginning his current season with a strong second-place finish in a first-level allowance over seven furlongs here May 9, His Smoothness was a very disappointing fifth in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial on June 6 and then ran sixth in a one-mile turf allowance for 3-year-olds and upward one week later.

Those efforts put his Queen's Plate status in serious doubt, but Day had a change of heart this week.

"I fussed about it," Day said. "But the fact is he's been doing very well with himself through all this melee.

"We had this design last year and got a fair bit accomplished, in terms of experience and seasoning. And this spring actually had gone well, up until the Day of the Plate Trial."

Before the Plate Trial, Day had engaged the services of jockey Constant Montpellier, but advised Montpellier to pursue other opportunities due to the uncertainty surrounding His Smoothness.

Montpellier picked up the Plate mount on Picadilly Bay, who is trained by John Ross, and Day now has recruited Jim McKnight to ride His Smoothness.

McKnight galloped His Smoothness for the first time last weekend and will be riding the colt under race conditions for the first time Sunday.

Both Day and Wilson said they believe His Smoothness will have no problem adjusting to the change in riders.

"He's very easy to handle," Wilson said. "He's well behaved, but he still enjoys himself."

Plate prospects get schooling

His Smoothness was one of the seven Queen's Plate candidates who came over to Woodbine's walking ring Tuesday for the annual Queen's Plate barbecue.

Others who attended the barbecue, which provides both a schooling opportunity for Plate horses and an opportunity for the media to meet the connections, were A Bit O'Gold, Archer Fleet, Copper Trail, Just in Case Jimmy, Silver Ticket, and Strike Em Hard.