06/09/2008 11:00PM

Focus now squarely on Plate


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - With the Woodbine Oaks now in the books, all eyes will be on the final buildup to the June 22 Queen's Plate.

On Tuesday morning, Shadowless and Niagara Thunder both tuned up for their expected appearances in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate with workouts over the main track.

Shadowless, trained by David Bell, went five furlongs in 1:00.80 under his expected Queen's Plate rider, Emma-Jayne Wilson.

"It worked out real well," said Bell. "He galloped out strong."

Shadowless stalked stablemate Labota, a 3-year-old maiden, before blowing by down the stretch. Labota finished in 1:01.80.

Shadowless made his stakes debut with a third-place finish behind leading Queen's Plate candidate Not Bourbon in the seven-furlong Queenston here on May 3.

In his latest, Shadowless tried two turns for the first time and ended third in a first-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles.

Niagara Thunder, trained by Alec Fehr, breezed six furlongs in 1:15.60 and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:30.20 with David Clark in the irons.

Niagara Thunder also used a stablemate as a prompter, as Lion Man breezed a half-mile in 49.60 seconds before giving way.

"It was a little slower than I thought it might have been," said Fehr, who trains Niagara Thunder for Centennial Farm (Niagara) Inc. "He seemed a little lazy."

In his last start, Niagara Thunder ended a troubled fifth in the first-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles, a half-length behind Shadowless.

True Metropolitan looking even better

A pair of older horses were in the spotlight here last Saturday, as True Metropolitan captured the Grade 3, $153,400 Eclipse and Dancer's Bajan won the $127,400 Steady Growth.

The Eclipse was the 15th career stakes win for True Metropolitan, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Bob Cheema and trained by Terry Jordan, who now has earned $1,038,295.

True Metropolitan's last two campaigns have led to Sovereign Awards as Canada's top older male, but he had just one previous start under his belt this season, having won the six-furlong George Royal at Hastings on May 5.

Before the 1 1/16-mile Eclipse, Jordan had indicated that he felt True Metropolitan was an improved horse this season.

And, after the Eclipse, he certainly had no reason to recant.

"He's a better horse than he was last year, which is hard to believe," Jordan reiterated, after watching Jim McAleney ride True Metropolitan to a 1 1/2-length victory. "But I think he showed it's pretty true."

Jordan's belief is borne out by True Metropolitan's Beyer Speed Figure of 103, the highest of his 35-race career.

"I'm happy for the horse," said Jordan. "The horse is just really, really having a good time. He's really enjoying his life."

Next up for True Metropolitan will be the Grade 3, $200,000 Dominion Day, a 1 1/4-mile race he won here last year.

The Dominion Day will be run on July 1.

Blinkers working for Dancer's Bajan

Dancer's Bajan, owned by Monte Muthulingham's 3 Sons Racing Stable and trained by Bob Tiller, also was stretching out for the first time this year in the 1 1/16-mile Steady Growth for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward.

"I'd always felt he could go long," said Tiller, who had sent out Dancer's Bajan to win the 1 1/16-mile Kingarvie here at 2 but was disappointed when the gelding finished third at the distance here last Dec. 8 in the Sir Barton.

"He was last there going into the first turn," he said. "He'd started sucking himself too far back in his races."

Tiller addressed the problem by putting blinkers on Dancer's Bajan for his second start this season, and the result was a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Vigil at seven furlongs.

"I was trying to get him to focus," said Tiller.

The move really paid dividends in the Steady Growth as Dancer's Bajan stayed within easy striking distance before rallying for a 1 1/4-length score under regular rider Corey Fraser.

With his two-turn ability now confirmed, a long-term target for Dancer's Bajan is the Sept. 1 Elgin, a 1 1/16-mile race for colts and geldings that will be one of six $125,000 yearling sales stakes run here Sept. 1.

The $125,000 Shepperton, a 6 1/2-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward here Aug. 6, also would be enticing.

"It's tough to shorten him up again, but we're certainly going to be interested," said Tiller. "Anything else before that, we'll figure it out."

Wheatcroft to be remembered

A memorial service will be held for William "Wheaty" Wheatcroft at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the backstretch recreation room.

Wheatcroft, a longtime member of the clocking department who retired in 2002 after spending some 50 years on the racetrack, died on May 17 at age 85 from complications caused by diabetes.

One of his daughters, Wendy McLaren, is the manager of the stable area here at Woodbine.

Chaplain Shawn Kennedy will conduct Thursday's services. Donations in Wheatcroft's name can be made to LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society at

Golfing event to benefit chaplaincy

The local chapter of the Race Track Chaplaincy of Canada will hold its annual fundraising golf tournament July 14.

The event, to take place at nearby Glen Eagle Golf Course, includes dinner and a silent auction. Sandy Hawley will be the guest speaker.

Tickets are $150 for the golf, dinner, and auction, or $75 for dinner and auction only. The registration deadline is July 7.

To purchase tickets or make contributions for the auction, contact Kennedy at (905) 713-4783 or chaplainshawn@hotmail.com.