06/21/2009 11:00PM

Eye of the Leopard has top Queen's Plate pedigree


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - If Sunday's 150th running of the $1 million Queen's Plate were run on pedigree, Eye of the Leopard would win the Woodbine classic in a romp.

Eye of the Leopard is by Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy, the 1992 Horse of the Year. A.P. Indy is perennially among the leading sires in North America, and is known for producing stout runners with stamina.

Eye of the Leopard is the first foal from Woodbine Oaks winner Eye of the Sphynx. His hot broodmare sire, Smart Strike, is the damsire of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

Sam-Son Farm campaigned Smart Strike, and is also the owner of Eye of the Leopard, who will try to become Sam-Son's fifth winner of the 1 1/4-mile Plate. His trainer, Mark Frostad, has won the Plate three times.

After his victory in the nine-

furlong Plate Trial Stakes, Frostad described Eye of the Leopard as a late bloomer with plenty of upside.

"He's just a big, goofy kid right now," said Frostad. "He'll get better as he goes along. He doesn't have a whole lot of seasoning, but his last two races have been terrific."

Eye of the Leopard raced four wide throughout most of the Trial, over a track that appeared to favor the outside runners. He rallied from mid-pack to nail the well-regarded Southdale on the wire, running the final quarter into a strong headwind in 25.39 seconds, according to Trakus, a horse-tracking system used by Woodbine.

"I think the Plate distance will suit him very well," Frostad said.

The Plate competitors with the highest Beyer Speed Figures are the two fillies in the field, Milwaukee Appeal and Tasty Temptation, who ran one-two in the Woodbine Oaks just two weeks ago.

Milwaukee Appeal had an ideal stalking trip in the nine-furlong Oaks, and she won going away in a time that earned her a 99 Beyer. She ran her final quarter in an impressive 24.21.

Tasty Temptation's trip in the Oaks was a nightmare from the get-go. She broke at least five lengths behind the field, and went four wide on the first turn before making a big wide move around the three-eighths pole. She hit the front briefly before Milwaukee Appeal kicked in, and managed to finish a clear second while running 46 feet farther than the winner, according to Trakus. Her final quarter-mile time was 24.90, and she was awarded a 93 Beyer.

Milwaukee Appeal is by Santa Anita Handicap winner Milwaukee Brew, the sire of the 2008 Oaks winner, Ginger Brew, who was a narrowly beaten favorite in last year's Plate.

Tasty Temptation is by the hot sire Medaglia d'Oro, sire of the brilliant classic winner Rachel Alexandra.

Both Milwaukee Appeal and Tasty Temptation were supplemented to the Plate at a cost of $25,000, and Milwaukee Appeal's easier trip in the Oaks makes her the most likely of the two to handle the quick comeback.

Fillies have won the Plate an amazing 33 times. The last to turn the trick was Dancethruthedawn in 2001.

Mr. Foricos Two U, a son of the

little-known Mr. Prospector sire Porto Foricos, has improved significantly with each start. Last time out in a 1o1/16-mile allowance for Ontario-sired stock, he was checked in traffic on the far turn before rallying strongly along the inside for a daylight victory. He ran 35 feet farther than the older runner-up, and his final quarter-mile clocking was a good 24.58.

Rapid Release and Keino West are logical prospects for the bottom of vertical wagers.

Rapid Release wound up third in the Trial, while covering the final quarter on his left lead in 25.62. His trainer, Roger Attfield, sent out his record-tying eighth Plate winner, Not Bourbon, last year.

Keino West rallied belatedly on the outside from far off a slow pace to end up fifth in the Trial. He ran seven feet farther than the winner, and got his last quarter in 25.51.

My selection is Mr. Foricos Two U, who will offer good value at 8-1 or higher. In vertical wagers, I will key him on top of Milwaukee Appeal, Eye of the Leopard, Tasty Temptation, Keino West, and Rapid Release.