03/18/2008 12:00AM

Giquere starts ambitious campaign


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Michael De Paulo thinks Giquere could be good enough to win the coveted Queen's Plate at Woodbine on June 22. Local handicappers are more interested in learning whether De Paulo thinks Giquere is good enough to win Thursday's $41,500 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.

Giquere showed his potential right off the bat, winning his maiden by 5 1/2 widening lengths when he launched his career at Woodbine on Dec. 9. The Beyer Speed Figure of 86 that he earned that day is the best of the 11 3-year-olds in the lineup for Thursday's one-mile main event.

Giquere, named for Anaheim Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giquere, was sent to Palm Meadows after his maiden win to freshen up and prepare for his 3-year-old campaign. He has worked steadily since early February with a series of bullet works that includes a five furlong drill in 59.40 seconds on March 13.

"We're hoping this will be a good start on the road to the Queen's Plate," said De Paulo. "He's doing good, I think he can stretch, out and I'd be surprised if he wasn't ready to run his best race despite coming off the layoff."

Giquere has not caught an easy spot for his return. The competition will include the undefeated pair of M V P Grand and Kohana, along with Web Gem, Motovato, and Caberneigh.

M V P Grand drew off to an easy 5 3/4-length victory for trainer Helen Pitts while racing for an $80,000 claiming price when be began his career here on Feb. 18.

"I took a little risk running him for a claiming tag the first time and got away with it," said Pitts.

Web Gem chased home his then-undefeated stablemate War Pass when he was easily second-best here on Feb. 24. In his previous start, Web Gem was fourth behind Face the Cat and Nistle's Crunch, who are among the potential starters for the Grade 1 Florida Derby here later this month.

Motovato finished a tiring fourth under similar entry-level allowance conditions on Feb. 22 while making his first start in nearly eight months. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Motovato figures to improve with that race under his belt.

Kohana survived a three-horse speed duel to win his maiden at first asking by 1 1/2 lengths going seven furlongs on Feb. 1 and should be a pace factor from the outset in his first try against winners.