05/26/2004 12:00AM

Day has two for try at third Plate

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Jim Day is no stranger to Queen's Plate success, having captured the 1988 running with Regal Intention and the 1991 running with Dance Smartly during his tenure with Sam-Son Farm.

This year, Day will try to win his first Plate as a public trainer and appears to have a pair of worthy candidates in His Smoothness and Copper Trail.

His Smoothness, who is owned by Day's mother, Edna Arrow, finished a closing second in his seasonal bow in a first-level allowance race over seven furlongs of slop here May 9. His next stop on the Plate trail will be the Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds here June 6.

Copper Trail, owned by Mario Stolar, won his first start of the year in a third-level allowance/optional claiming race for 3-year-olds and upward at 1 1/16 miles here May 16. The Victoria Park, an open 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds here June 13, is next on his agenda.

His Smoothness ended his juvenile campaign on a positive note, winning his maiden over 1 1/16 miles here Nov. 30 after running fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity.

"He finished up the season good," said Day. "But while 'Smoothy' got to run, at the end of November, [Copper Trail] was just starting rehab."

Copper Trail, who won Fort Erie's six-furlong Juvenile and Woodbine's seven-furlong Frost King last fall, had undergone what Day termed "a little maintenance surgery" after finishing third in the Coronation and was confined to his stall for 2 1/2 months.

His Smoothness, meanwhile, was enjoying his wintry exercise at Day's Ontario training center.

"He had a couple of months up in the snow," said Day. "[Copper Trail] is just a little farther behind."

His Smoothness worked a mile in 1:42.20 in company with a couple of stablemates over a "good" main track here Wednesday. Day said the exercise served dual purposes

"He has a new rider," said Day, who will have Constant Montpellier ride His Smoothness in the Trial and, he hopes, the Plate. "It was a chance for Montpellier to get a feel of him and for the horse to show how he conducted himself tracking horses. Overall, it was a success. He finished strong, galloped out strong, and came back bouncing."

Copper Trail was never eligible for the Queen's Plate until he was supplemented on deadline day, May 15.

"He was supplemented for $15,000 Saturday, and he ran Sunday," said Day. "Mario was a little jumpy."

Na Somsanith, who rode Copper Trail for the first time in Copper Trail's seasonal bow, will retain the mount for the Queen's Plate.

Filling Phantom Light's shoes

Last year, Stronach Stable and trainer Danny Vella campaigned Phantom Light, the Sovereign Award-winning older male whose victories included the Grade 3 Eclipse and Dominion Day handicaps.

Phantom Light's racing future is in serious doubt these days. He developed a hock infection that moved to his shoulder last year, and he is probably headed for a career at stud.

The stable has two heir apparents, however, in Mark One and Rock Again, who finished first and third in the 1 1/16-mile Eclipse here Monday.

Mark One, a 5-year-old gelding, recorded his first stakes win in the Eclipse and boosted his earnings past the $500,000 mark.

Rock Again, a 4-year-old colt who was sidelined after finishing third in the Queen's Plate last year, was making just his second start in 11 months after winning a second-level allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs here May 1.

"I'll probably point both of them to the Dominion Day," said Vella. "Both came out of their races well, and it's probably the right spot for them."

The Dominion Day, at 1 1/4 miles, will be run on the holiday Thursday program, July 1.

"Mark One has surprised me, how much he's improved," said Vella. "I took the blinkers off him, and that helps a little bit, but I think he's just a stronger horse this year. He has this acceleration that he didn't have before."

Although Rock Again was beaten seven lengths in the Eclipse, Vella does not see Rock Again playing second-fiddle to his older stablemate.

"I think Rock Again, overall, is probably just as good or better," said Vella.

Night Sky to get shot in Trial

Vella is looking toward the Plate Trial with Night Sky, owned by Stronach Stable, who would be making his second start of the year.

Undefeated in two starts here at 2, including the 6 1/2-furlong Sunny's Halo, Night Sky faltered to finish sixth of seven in the seven-furlong Queenston on May 8.

Vella, who said after the race that Night Sky would be getting Lasix, watched Night Sky work six furlongs in 1:15.60 on a "good" main track here Tuesday.

"He came his last quarter in 24 flat," said Vella, adding that Todd Kabel retains the mount for the Trial.

Feature favorite could be Surging River

Surging River, a smart allowance winner in his last start at Keeneland on Oct. 23, has been training forwardly for his seasonal bow and could be the horse to beat in Friday's allowance feature.

The race, scheduled for one mile of turf, attracted 16 entrants, two of whom are also eligibles.