07/15/2004 11:00PM

Flat Rock looks the fastest


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Flat Rock, an impressive first-out winner on Queen's Plate Day, should go favored in Sunday's $158,700 Clarendon Stakes, a 5 1/2-furlong event for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds.

Trainer Mark Casse said Flat Rock came with high expectations when he was shipped to his Woodbine barn this spring from owner Eugene and Laura Melnyk's Florida farm. "They really liked him at the farm, and he trained really well up here," Casse said. "He had shown pretty good speed."

Flat Rock led throughout his June 27 debut to win by 5 1/4 lengths. His five-furlong time of 59 seconds earned him a Beyer Speed Figure of 74, easily the highest in the four-horse Clarendon field. Casse said Flat Rock overcame his greenness in his race. "We've had a steering problem with him," Casse said. "We haven't been able to get him to run straight. In fact, he runs with a bit for horses who lug in. He [lugged in] a little late in the race, but he's come back and worked good while running straight."

Casse described Flat Rock as an attractive colt, not unlike other sons of Archers Bay, who won the 1998 Queen's Plate for the Melnyks. "He looks a lot like Arch Hall and Kent Ridge, and they all look like Archers Bay," Casse said.

Patrick Husbands, who won the 2003 Clarendon aboard the Casse-trained Maple Syrple, retains the mount on Flat Rock.

Trainer Dave Cotey entered a promising maiden, Moonshine Justice, whom he owns in partnership with Derek Ball and Hugh Galbraith. He finished second in his June 13 debut, a five-furlong maiden dash for Ontario-sired runners, before being demoted to fourth by disqualification for interference.

"We really liked him that day," Cotey said. "He was four wide the whole way, and was running on end."

Cotey was thrilled with Moonshine's Justice's five-furlong work under jockey Constant Montpellier July 1. "He breezed in 1:01.60, and did it very easily," Cotey said.

Leading rider Todd Kabel gets the mount.

* One for Rose heads Sunday's supporting feature, the $107,000 Belle Mahone Stakes. One for Rose, last year's champion older female in Canada, beat a high-quality group most recently, in the Ontario Matron Handicap, earning a 99 Beyer Figure. Raylene, one of the top fillies and mares in Alberta, will make her local debut in the 1 1/16-mile Belle Mahone.