05/21/2009 11:00PM

Coatrieux has eye on another Plate

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Eric Coatrieux, operating in the relative anonymity of the training and stabling facility at nearby Chiefswood Farm, has been bringing along a couple of hopefuls for the $1 million Queen's Plate and a candidate for the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks.

Coatrieux, who sent out Niigon to win the Queen's Plate for Robert and Mark Krembil's Chiefswood outfit in 2004, is pointing the recent graduate Thor's Piper and the maiden Yorkville for the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds here June 21.

Gore Bay, also a last-out maiden winner, is aiming for the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies on June 7.

Thor's Piper, Yorkville, and Gore Park all are Chiefswood Stable homebreds and not one of the three raced as a 2-year-old.

"They were just slow to get there," said Coatrieux, who did manage to get starts into all three horses at Gulfstream Park this winter.

Thor's Piper, a full brother to 2006 Plate Trial winner Pipers Thunder, finished 11th when debuting on the grass at Gulstream but showed promise when ending fourth over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland in his second outing. Making his local debut on May 18, Thor's Piper was a game winner of a "B" maiden race over 1 1/16 miles.

"He was a bit off in Florida," said Coatrieux. "He didn't do as well as the other horses. But when he ran back here, he improved a lot."

Coatrieux plans to run Thor's Piper in the $150,000 Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds here next Sunday.

Yorkville, fifth in his debut over one mile of turf at Gulfstream, ended fourth in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race when making his second start here, but is held in high regard by his trainer.

"He looks like a nice horse," said Coatrieux. "I always liked him down south. I was kind of upset with his last race. He was inside all the way around, and then went to the outside. But, he got a good race out of it."

Coatrieux is eyeing a maiden race here next Sunday for Yorkville, who also is nominated to the Plate Trial.

Gore Bay ran sixth when debuting over one mile of turf in Florida and then ended fifth in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race at Keeneland. In her first local appearance, which came on May 13, Gore Bay rallied from just off the pace for a 1 1/4-length score.

"She took a while to learn, but as soon as she ran her first race, she kept on improving," said Coatrieux.

Indigo North, another Woodbine Oaks nominee in the Chiefswood fold, pressed the pace before finishing fourth behind her entrymate in her local bow. Also unraced at 2, Indigo North had finished fourth in her debut over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland.

Attfield's Plate hope works

Rapid Release, trainer Roger Attfield's candidate for a record ninth Queen's Plate win, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 under jockey Jono Jones here Sunday.

"I was really happy with him," said Attfield. "He's getting better all the time."

Rapid Release, who raced in England last year, has run three times for Attfield, ending on the fringes on each occasion with his latest a fifth-place finish in a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles here May 3. Bred in Ontario by Shyman Racing Stable, Rapid Release remains eligible for a first-level allowance.

A 1 1/8-mile race in that classification was offered but did not fill for Sunday's card and was carried over to Wednesday, but Attfield prefers the terms of the Plate Trial.

"The Trial, to me, makes more sense at this point," said Attfield. "I want to see him carry the weight, running that far, and see if he belongs."

Colts and geldings in the Plate Trial carry 126 pounds, the same weight they carry in the Queen's Plate.

Not Bourbon getting ready

Not Bourbon, who won both the Plate Trial and Queen's Plate for Attfield last year, has been back on the work tab here recently and has a couple of quarter-mile breezes under his belt.

"He had a little problem with his knee, and we gave him a lot of time," said Attfield. "He'll be back racing as soon as he's fit enough. He'll probably come around fairly quickly."

Not Bourbon, an Ontario-sired colt, wound up his 2008 campaign with four wins in six starts and earnings of $890,000.

Sand Cove, another multiple-stakes-winning 3-year-old for the Attfield stable last year, was gearing up for his return here earlier this month but was sidelined after injuring himself in his stall.

"I'm not really sure where I am with him," said Attfield.

Sand Cove, also Ontario-sired, was 5 for 10 with earnings of $366,955 last year.

Parabola comes up sick

Parabola, who had been scheduled to use the Plate Trial as his final tune-up for the Queen's Plate, suffered a serious setback when finishing last of six in the 1 1/16-mile Marine here May 16.

"He's very sick," said trainer Barbara Minshall. "He came out of that race with an extremely high white count. He'll have to go through his antibiotics, and then we'll see how he is."

Minshall suspected something was amiss when Parabola, who had won the restricted Kingarvie over 1 1/16 miles here last fall, began backing up midway through the Marine.

"That just wasn't him," said Minshall. "After three-quarters of a mile he just stopped, and he didn't gallop out."

Mattine, trainer, dies at 74

Tony Mattine, who has been training here since 1975, died at his home at age 74 early Friday morning following a long struggle with cancer.

Born in Avellino, Italy, Mattine had been a jockey and worked for a number of years as assistant to the late Gord Huntley before branching out on his own. Mattine trained 11 stakes winners with his best probably being Prospective Dolly, who campaigned from 1989 through 1994 and fashioned a record of 22-13-6 from 48 starts for earnings of more than $700,000. Prospective Dolly's eight stakes scores included three wins here in the Whimsical and two in the Seaway.

Mattine also trained Jet Freighter, a turf specialist who won Woodbine's Connaught Cup, Seagram Cup, Jockey Club Cup, and Izvestia. His other stakes winners included Highland Vixen, Dressed for Action, China Ruckus, Highland Ruckus, Quitman, Jacksboro, Flying Pocket, Friuli, and John Bright.

Through his career, Mattine had 609 wins from 3,612 starts for purses of more than $11 million.

Also known as a man with a very good eye for a young horse, Mattine made numerous sales purchases who went on to be successful for other trainers.

Mattine's survivors include sons John, who had been his longtime assistant here, and Mike, who has been training here since 1986.

Visitation will be held from 2-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. on Monday at the Ward Funeral Home at 2035 Weston Rd. in Toronto.

The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Jude's Roman Catholic Church at 3265 Weston Rd. in Toronto.