04/15/2010 12:00AM

Frostad, Sam-Son gear up for Plate

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - On April 15, 2009, Eye of the Leopard finished eighth when making the first start of his career at Keeneland.

Four starts and less than 10 weeks later, Eye of the Leopard prevailed as the favorite in the $1 million Queen's Plate, the 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds that will be renewed this year on July 4.

"It was extraordinary, for a horse to make it like that," said Mark Frostad, who trains the homebred Eye of the Leopard for Sam-Son Farm.

"We were very fortunate to get there. I wouldn't want to count on doing it like that again."

While Frostad and Sam-Son have unproven and unstarted Queen's Plate nominees again this year, they also has a well-seasoned pair in Hotep and Giant's Tomb, both of whom raced in New Orleans over the winter and were scheduled to check in from Keeneland on Friday.

"They're both dead fit," Frostad said. "They're training very well right now."

Hotep, a full brother to Eye of the Leopard, won his maiden first crack out over a mile and 70 yards here Oct. 17 and then finished fifth three weeks later in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity.

Giant's Tomb raced here five times as a 2-year-old, winning his penultimate start over 1 1/16 miles and then ending second to the promising Kentucky-bred Bears Hard Ten in the 1 1/16-mile Display.

At the end of the Woodbine meeting, both Hotep and Giant's Tomb headed directly to Fair Grounds.

Hotep started four times there, winning under first-level allowance terms over a mile and 40 yards before finishing well back in both the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star and the 1 1/8-mile Louisiana Derby.

"I'm not sure he liked dirt all that much, the way he ran in those races," Frostad said. "He ran on and off; it was bizarre.

"They'd really watered the track for the Louisiana Derby, and there was a lot of stuff kicking back."

Giant's Tomb raced three times at Fair Grounds, finishing a close second in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles and then winning under the same terms on March 22.

Dark Cloud Dancer set for bow

Dark Cloud Dancer, a colt by Storm Cat out of Queen's Plate heroine Dancethruthedawn, is a Queen's Plate nominee who will be debuting for Frostad and Sam-Son in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race here Saturday.

"He was at Fair Grounds for a while, and Keeneland for a while," said Frostad, who watched Dark Cloud Dancer work well at both venues before shipping in to Woodbine early this month.

"I was looking at starting him at Keeneland, but he needed a couple more works."

Dark Cloud Dancer drew the No. 1 post in the maiden race, which was split into two divisions.

The field also includes Queen's Plate nominees Artic Fern, Powermouse, and Vicar Street.

Woodland Flute is the only Queen's Plate nominee in the first division.

Eye of the Leopard recovering at farm

Meanwhile, Eye of the Leopard is on the farm in Ocala recuperating from ankle surgery.

After winning the Queen's Plate, Eye of the Leopard finished a close third in Fort Erie's Prince of Wales but then was unplaced in both the Breeders' and Ontario Derby.

"He had a chip removed from his hind ankle in December," Frostad said. "It probably happened in his last race, but we picked it up late. He never showed any signs of it."

Eye of the Leopard earned $786,340 and took home the Sovereign Award as Canada's champion 3-year-old male.

Authenicat returns in Whimsical

Authenicat is back for another year at the races and will make her seasonal bow here in Sunday's Whimsical, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares.

Trained by Josie Carroll, the 5-year-old Authenicat went through the ring to dissolve a partnership at the Keeneland January sale and was purchased for $300,000 by one of her original owners, Vinery Stable LLC.

"She's doing very well," Carroll said. "She was down at Palm Meadows and then had a couple of works on the Polytrack at Keeneland."

Carroll had no plans to start Authenicat before the Whimsical.

"This race is what we were thinking about," Carroll said.

Authenicat has compiled a record of 6-7-4 and earnings of $715,417 from 22 career starts. She has won Ontario-sired stakes in each of her three campaigns, including the six-furlong Ballade last year.

The Whimsical attracted a field of seven headed by Tribal Belle, who won the inaugural Sovereign Award in the champion female sprinter category last year.

Trainer Huarte handed 1-year ban

Veteran trainer Frank Huarte has been suspended for one calendar year, through next April 8, after his horse Spanish Deputy tested positive for the Class 1 drugs codeine and morphine.

The stewards ruled that there was no evidence to substantiate the claim by Huarte that the positive reading must have resulted from contaminated hay that had been acquired from another trainer in the barn and had been stored in an unsecured area.

Spanish Deputy finished second in the seventh race on Dec. 6, the closing day of the 2009 Woodbine meeting but has been disqualified for all purposes except parimutuel wagering.

Huarte, 71, has campaigned a stable of homebreds since 1978, and his major winners have included River Boat, Spanish Play, and Spanish Decree.

Huarte also will have to pay a fine of $5,000 upon the completion of his suspension.

Apprentice fined for whip violation

Apprentice jockey Caroline Duquet has been fined $200 for striking her mount, Molinaro Gioello, more than three times in succession during the stretch run of the third race here April 3.

Molinaro Gioello finished second, a neck before third-place Set in Stone, and is back in the entries, with Duquet getting the call for Saturday's 10th race.