06/15/2005 12:00AM

Ins and outs of Queen's Plate shaping up


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Queen's Plate is quickly approaching, with the 146th running of the $1 million showpiece for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds set for Sunday, June 26.

And there was Queen's Plate news on several fronts here Wednesday, as nominees Three in the Bag, Granique, and Stag Nation all worked over the "good" main track, and Enough Is Enough and Dave the Knave were officially declared to be out of the running.

Three in the Bag, who was awarded first money in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial following the controversial disqualification of Dance With Ravens, breezed four furlongs in 50 seconds and galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.

Robert Landry, who rode Three in the Bag for the first time in the Trial, was aboard for Wednesday's move and will be seeking his second Queen's Plate victory after capturing last year's renewal with Niigon.

Three in the Bag, owned by Castletop Stable and based in New York with trainer Stanley Hough, had arrived at Woodbine three days before making his local debut in the June 5 Trial and has been based here since then.

"He's at home here," said assistant trainer Sarah Middleton, who will oversee Three in the Bag's final Plate preparations. "Everything looks good. He's doing well. We'll just keep him happy and feeling good."

Granique, who also is Plate-bound, worked six furlongs in 1:15.40, going in company with stablemate Lubomir, a 4-year-old maiden.

Apprentice rider Corey Fraser was aboard Granique, who is slated to be his first Plate mount.

"I think it's one of the better works he's had all year," said Alec Fehr, who trains Granique for Knob Hill Stable. "It wasn't like the 1:12 he did, with Atanas, but I liked this work better because he did it well within himself. He did that very easy."

Granique had worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 in company with stablemate Atanas here May 28.

Atanas subsequently suffered an injury in the Plate Trial and is out for the season, while Granique finished a distant second behind New York-bred Accountforthegold in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles here June 4.

"Very disappointing," was Fehr's reaction to that effort.

"Our plan was to be outside much sooner," he said. "Instead we were stuck with the speed, on the rail. I thought he never got to run at all."

Stag Nation, the official fourth-place finisher in the Plate Trial, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20, and his connections are on the fence regarding his Plate participation.

The $100,000 Charlie Barley, an open overnight stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile on turf here on Queen's Plate Day, could be an alternative for Stag Nation, who won two races on turf for trainer Danny Vella last year.

Foot foiled Enough Is Enough

Enough Is Enough and Dave the Knave suggested Plate potential when they finished one-two in the Kingarvie, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds here on Dec. 10.

Enough Is Enough has lived up to that promise in his two starts this season, ending a bang-up second in the seven-furlong Queenston and then being the first Canadian-bred across the finish line when he was a close fourth in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Marine.

A foot problem flared up during the May 21 Marine, however, and while trainer and part-owner Steve Attard had hoped to go straight to the Plate with Enough Is Enough, he has abandoned that quest.

"It's definitely a no-go," said Attard. "He had two pus pockets, and missed 10 days of training after the Marine. That's too much.

"If I wanted to push it, and take a shot, I could. But he wouldn't finish anywhere, anyway. We have other options."

One such alternative for Enough Is Enough is the $150,000 Achievement, a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds here July 1, which also is the target of Dave the Knave.

Bob Tiller, trainer and co-owner of Dave the Knave, sent out the gelding to win his seasonal bow in a six-furlong allowance for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward here May 6.

But last Saturday, in a race that was to serve as his measuring stick for the Plate, Dave the Knave finished eighth of nine as the lone 3-year-old in the restricted Steady Growth.

"He's had his share of problems this year," said Tiller. "He seems to have come out of his last race all right, but obviously, the way he ran, he doesn't belong in the Queen's Plate.

"We'll try a different route, such as sprints and Ontario-sired races."

Classic Swamp moves to Banach barn

Classic Stamp, runner-up to Inish Glora in the Sovereign Award voting for champion turf filly or mare last year, has been moved into the barn of trainer Darwin Banach.

A 5-year-old owned and bred by Bill Sorokolit, Classic Stamp had won two stakes, five races, and $658,771, making her first 18 career starts for Cliff Hopmans.

This year, Classic Stamp was a troubled fourth in the Nassau prep and then failed to fire when seventh in the Grade 2 Nassau.

The next stakes for the division is the Grade 3, $300,000 Dance Smartly, a 1 1/8-mile turf race here July 16.

"We'll assess her and see what happens," said Banach, 39, who took over as a private trainer for Sorokolit and his son, Bill Sorokolit Jr., this year.

Banach has 16 stalls here and six at Fort Erie, and is awaiting the arrival of eight 2-year-olds from Florida.