03/12/2008 11:00PM

Cool Gator tops Queen's Plate winter book


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Cool Gator, who finished a solid second in his season debut in a 1 1/8-mile first-level allowance at Gulfstream on March 1, and who is scheduled to make his next start in the Florida Derby on March 29, is the 4-1 favorite in the annual winter book for Woodbine's Queen's Plate.

The winter book, compiled by Woodbine oddsmaker Jennifer Morrison, assigned odds to the 132 Canadian-bred 3-year-olds who are eligible for the $1 million Queen's Plate as of Feb. 1.

The 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate will be run on June 22, and Cool Gator, a homebred who races for Garland Williamson and is trained by Danny Vella, appears to have an edge on his peers at this stage.

Last year, Cool Gator finished second in both the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Grey and the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity at Woodbine.

Deputiformer, third in the Coronation after winning his maiden in Woodbine's Cup and Saucer at 1o1/16 miles on the turf, is next on Morrison's line at 6-1.

Owned by David James and trained by Mike DePaulo, Deputiformer finished a distant third behind the up-and-coming Big Brown in his 2008 debut in a first-level allowance going one mile at Gulfstream on March 5.

Rounding out the winter book's top five are Harlem Rocker (8-1), Giquere (10-1), and Stuck in Traffic (12-1).

Both Harlem Rocker, trained by Todd Pletcher, and Giquere, trained by DePaulo, were impressive winners of their only starts and are currently training in Florida.

Harlem Rocker's win came at seven furlongs at Gulfstream on Feb.o14 while Giquere's was a six-furlong romp at Woodbine on Dec. 9.

Stuck in Traffic won two stakes and $250,900 in a seven-start campaign at Woodbine last year, but has yet to race around two turns. Trained by Nick Gonzalez, Stuck in Traffic is working well at Gulfstream.

A sustaining payment of $1,500 is due for Queen's Plate nominees on May 1, at which time a $5,000 supplementary payment also is available.

The complete list of winter book horses and odds can be found at www.queensplate.com.