06/20/2006 11:00PM

Cifercat climbed out of claimers

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Cifercat could have been claimed for $32,000 here at Woodbine this spring, and was.

Now, Cifercat is heading into Sunday's 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate, a $1 million race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, with at least a fighting chance of collecting a lucrative prize.

Interestingly, Cifercat was not even the No. 1 choice of trainer Abraham Katryan and trainer Bruno Schickedanz when they were looking to claim a horse from a maiden race here April 23.

"We had taken a good look at a couple of horses, and studied their form seriously," said Katryan, in his office here Wednesday morning. "I didn't like the look of the horse we were supposed to claim, and when we were there in the paddock, when this horse [Cifercat] came around, he looked awesome.

"I pointed him out to Bruno, and he was instantly in love with him."

Katryan and Schickedanz dropped the claim slip, and were the proud new owners of Cifercat after the colt won the $32,000 maiden claimer at seven furlongs.

"We'd had an idea he might be nominated to the Plate, but we weren't sure if the payments had been kept up," said Katryan. "Thirty seconds after we knew we'd got the horse, Bruno went in and made sure he was nominated."

Cifercat debuted for his new interests in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles here May 14. That start was Cifercat's first around two turns, and he moved to the front midway around the final turn only to yield late and finish second.

"He made the lead a little bit early," said Katryan, who pressed ahead on the road to the Queen's Plate when he entered Cifercat in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial here June 4.

"I was expecting him to run a good race in the Plate Trial," said Katryan. "He moved at the point he was supposed to, and he looked like he wanted to run down the lane, but he hung a little bit."

After finishing fourth in the Plate Trial, Katryan has spent the ensuing weeks working on Cifercat's timing.

"We've tried to get him to be more relaxed, and get him to pass horses," said Katryan.

Katryan put the finishing touches on Cifercat's preparations last Sunday. With his regular rider, Richard Dos Ramos, in the irons, Cifercat worked one mile without company in 1:39.60.

"I wanted him to be a little more focused, and to move at the right time," said Katryan. "His last three furlongs were strong; that's what we were looking for. I don't think the mile and a quarter will be a problem."

Cifercat will be the second Queen's Plate starter for Katryan, who sent out Wake at Noon for Schickedanz in the 2000 renewal, where he finished fifth.

Dos Ramos has ridden in 13 Queen's Plates, with his best finish a second aboard Sir Khaled in 1983.

Attfield works trio on turf

The turf training course was opened for business on Wednesday, and trainer Roger Attfield, a regular customer, sent out Pellegrino, Noble Stella, and Jader to prep for upcoming stakes.

Pellegrino, with assistant trainer Rachel Halden in the irons, breezed four furlongs in 47.60 seconds in preparation for Sunday's $100,000 Singspiel, a 1 1/2-mile overnight turf stakes for 3-year-olds and upward.

"I didn't want to do too much with him; the turf's so hard," said Attfield. "He's fit enough, anyway."

Noble Stella, who breezed four furlongs in 48 with Halden aboard, was slated to ship out on Thursday morning for Belmont's Grade 2, $150,000 New York Breeders' Cup Handicap, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

Jader, who breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 under jockey Gerry Olguin, is slated to make his first local appearance in the Grade 2, $300,000 King Edward Breeders' Cup, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward here July 3.

A 4-year-old colt owned by Gary Tanaka, Jader joined Attfield's string this spring after racing in Italy last year and Dubai this winter.

"I've got to find out what I've got here," said Attfield. "Looking at his form, I would say he's a better turf horse.

"The way he's worked for me, he is."

Friday card heavy with maidens

A fairly uninspiring card will be on tap here Friday, with seven of the nine races featuring maidens.

An Ontario-sired maiden special weight sprint for 2-year-old fillies split into two divisions and will go as races 5 and 6. Another pair of maiden special weight races are scheduled for turf, with both offering superfecta wagering.

* The Queen's Plate will be the theme of Saturday's morning workouts session, which is scheduled to run from 8 to 10 a.m. and will be hosted by Jennifer Morrison. Jockeys Ray Sabourin, Justin Stein, and Emma Wilson and trainer Mike Doyle, all of whom will be participating in the Queen's Plate, will be Morrison's guests.