06/12/2003 11:00PM

Fifteen possible for the Plate


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The presence of multiple stakes winners Wando and Mobil, not to mention the upstart Rock Again, certainly hasn't scared away the opposition for next Sunday's 144th running of the $1 million Queen's Plate.

As of Friday morning, there were 15 potential Plate entrants, which would be two less than the maximum number allowed to start here in a 1 1/4-mile stakes race.

Several of the jockey assignments remained undecided, with the participation of several Plate hopefuls and the ensuing juggling of mounts dependent on workouts scheduled for this weekend.

The most prominent horse to work will be Wando, who is scheduled to work Sunday under jockey Patrick Husbands.

Todd Kabel has ridden both Wando and Mobil in each of their starts this year and is expected to be named on both horses at the draw here Thursday, with Husbands picking up the remaining mount.

"Todd's told me that he's leaning towards Mobil," said Mike Keogh, who trains both Wando and Mobil for owner-breeder Gustav Schickedanz. "But he still has that choice to make. If he wants to change his mind, he can."

Others slated to run in the Plate, with jockey assignments, include Arco's Gold (Constant Montpellier), Button Wood (Chantal Sutherland), Dance Engagement (Jim McAleney), El Gran Maestro (undecided), Illusive Force (Dave Wilson), Islendingur (Gerry Olguin), Peef (undecided), Rock Again (Eibar Coa), Shoal Water (Robert Landry), and Sircharlesschnabel (undecided).

Awesome Action, Quiet Dare, and Solihull also remain under consideration but are not committed to the Plate.

Quiet Dare's status uncertain

The most prominent of the fence-sitters is Quiet Dare, who finished second to Mobil when both made their 2003 returns in the seven-furlong Queenston here May 3.

But, Mobil went on to win the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial, and Quiet Dare was extremely disappointing in the 1 1/16-mile Marine, where he trailed badly throughout and was beaten 16 lengths by the victorious Wando.

Mac Benson, who trains Quiet Dare, was mystified by that effort and hoped to find an answer when the gelding ran back in last Sunday's 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park.

And while Quiet Dare did run a better race there, beaten three lengths in a fifth-place finish, the performance did not vindicate the promise he had shown earlier.

"It was a little more encouraging, to a point," Benson said. "But I can't make an excuse for him at all. Maybe he just doesn't want to go that far."

Shippers add to Plate appeal

Adding spice to this year's Plate is the presence of Illusive Force, a British Columbia-bred who shipped here from Hastings this spring, and probable participant Sircharlesschnabel, who is based in New York with trainer Phil Serpe.

Illusive Force, trained by Robert VanOverschot, finished fourth in both the Marine and the Victoria Park, beaten 10 3/4 lengths in the former race and 2 1/4 lengths in the latter.

Lani VanOverschot, wife and assistant to the trainer, has been overseeing Illusive Force's campaign here and was pleased with the Victoria Park effort.

"He was stuck down on the rail," she said, "and he put his head back in front twice. He tried his guts out."

Sircharlesschnabel won his maiden by 7 1/2 lengths at 1 1/16 miles over a muddy track in his last start, at Belmont June 5. The colt is scheduled to work Sunday or Monday in New York and would ship to Woodbine late this week.

Governor General on hand

Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, and her husband, John Raulston Saul, will be the guests of honor at the Queen's Plate.

The Governor General will present the Queen's Plate trophy to the winning owner.

Draft-style post position draw

The Queen's Plate draw, which will be held here Thursday, once again will feature a draft style post-position selection process, the same format used for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

A random draw will determine the order of selection, and the connections of the each entrant then will select their post position.

Anson Carter, who scored the winning goal in overtime to give Team Canada the gold medal at the World Hockey Championships in Finland last month, will be the honorary drawmaster. Carter plays for the National Hockey League's New York Rangers.

Luciani appeals suspension

Jockey Dino Luciani has appealed a suspension of 15 calendar days, which was to begin Monday and run through June 30, for what the stewards ruled was "an unsatisfactory ride" during the eighth and final race here Wednesday night.

The ruling said Luciani "failed to put forth sufficient effort" aboard Fear Factory, who broke last of 11 in the field and finished eighth.

"I just think they're absolutely wrong," Luciani said. "I think it's a bad call on their part."

Mike DePaulo, who trains Fear Factory, also disagreed with the ruling.

"I didn't want Dino to send him, because when we sent him he'd stop," DePaulo said. "He tried to stay a little off the pace, and the horse ended up taking himself right out of the race."

The 11 horses who ran in Wednesday's finale had been kept waiting in the starting gate for almost three minutes after longshot Mister Excess was a last-minute scratch.

The delay was designed to allow those who had included Mister Excess in their wagers to change their tickets, a policy that has been adopted by Woodbine in recent years.