06/23/2005 11:00PM

Dance With Ravens has all the tools

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Selene winner Gold Strike will attempt to become the 34th filly to win the Queen's Plate.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Dance With Ravens, a blue-blooded Sam-Son Farm runner, possesses all the credentials to capture the $1 million , which will be run for the 146th time Sunday at Woodbine.

The 1 1/4-mile Plate has lured a quality field of 10 Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, including the red-hot Gold Strike, who will try to become the 34th filly to win the prestigious event.

Also on the Plate card are three other stakes, the Grade 3, $223,800 Highlander, headed by reigning Canadian Horse of the Year Soaring Free, the $111,000 Singspiel, and the $110,000 Charlie Barley. Post time for the first of 11 races Sunday is 12:25 p.m.

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 17 and the Breeders' Stakes here Aug. 7. There is no longer a bonus for sweeping the series.

Dance With Ravens's dam, the legendary Dance Smartly, won the 1991 Plate, as did two of her offspring, Scatter the Gold and Dancethruthedawn.

A massive colt by Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy, Dance With Ravens has required lots of racing and training to get him ready to go the Plate distance, according to trainer Mark Frostad. He was third in a turf allowance at Keeneland in his season opener, and then won a local allowance before finishing first in the Plate Trial Stakes, in which he was disqualified and placed sixth for clipping heels with a rival. That controversial decision is under appeal.

"He settled off the pace in the Plate Trial," Frostad said, "and when Todd Kabel asked him, he put in a good run, maybe [moving] a little early. He ran a super race. He doesn't know he was disqualified, and that's all that counts."

Gold Strike was an eye-catching winner of the Grade 3 Selene Stakes and, just two weeks ago, the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks. Trainer Reade Baker said Gold Strike was fatigued after the Oaks, and admitted that he would prefer that she had more time off heading into the Plate.

"She was pretty tired," Baker said. "The heat really took its toll on her. It took her a long time to walk back home after she was in the winner's circle. Three weeks back would be perfect, but we're going to have to make do with two weeks. She's healthy. She hasn't had any problems at all."

Three in the Bag is one of three U.S. shippers in the field, along with King of Jazz and Wild Desert. He was placed first in the Trial after his four-wide rally fell a neck short.

Jockey Robert Landry, who won last year's Plate aboard Niigon, said trainer Stanley Hough wanted Three in the Bag taken off the pace in the Trial.

"He'd been very aggressive in a lot of his races," Landry said. "Our whole plan was to make him run from off the pace, so I sat and waited, and he put in a big effort closing into those slow fractions."

King of Jazz is exiting two consecutive nine-furlong victories in Kentucky, the most recent of which came in allowance company at Churchill Downs, for which he received a 96 Beyer Figure.

Carl Nafzger trains King of Jazz, who is one of three Manitoba-breds in the field, along with Gold Strike and Get Down.

Wild Desert, who was a fast-closing second in the Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes in March, hasn't run since his dull effort behind Afleet Alex in the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby on April 16. He was recently transferred from trainer Ken McPeek to trainer Richard Dutrow, but is currently with Bobby Frankel while Dutrow serves a suspension.

Get Down finished third as the favorite in the Trial and was promoted to second. Trainer Nancy Triola said she was content with the performance.

"I thought he ran well," Triola said. "He got to lollygagging from the three-eighths pole to the quarter pole, which is when those horses swooped in on him. It caught him off guard, and he didn't figure it out until about halfway down the stretch, when he swung out wide and came back on."

Ablo was second to his highly regarded stablemate Palladio two weeks ago in the nine-furlong Victoria Park Stakes.

"I needed to get a good race into him," said trainer Roger Attfield, who has won the Plate seven times. "I think Palladio is as nice as any 3-year-old around here."

The field

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

1GraniqueC. Fraser 30-1
2Molinaro BeauD. Clark50-1
3Runnaway MonE. Ramsammy30-1
4King of JazzR. Bejarano6-1
5Wild DesertP. Valenzuela5-1
6AbloG. Olguin 20-1
7Gold StrikeJ. McAleney 3-1
8Three in the BagR. Landry 9-2
9Dance With RavensT. Kabel5-2
10Get DownR. Migliore 10-1

All starters carry 126 pounds except Gold Strike (121 pounds)
Odds by Ron Gierkink
Television: Sunday, 4-5:30 p.m. (Eastern), The Score (Canada only)