06/18/2007 11:00PM

Jiggs Coz drawing attention to Attard

Michael Burns
Jiggs Coz will be the favorite in Sunday's Queen's Plate at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sid Attard may be Woodbine's best-kept secret.

Maybe it's because Attard, who has been training here since 1977 and has managed the careers of several Canadian champions, has never been recognized with a personal Sovereign Award despite being the leading trainer at the past three Woodbine meetings.

Or, maybe it's because Attard chooses to rest his stock during the offseason while other local trainers compete south of the border and raise their profiles.

Or, perhaps it's because Attard's few forays into the United States with Canadian champions such as Numerous Times and One for Rose - or, more recently, with the crack sprinter Like Mom Like Sons - have ended in disappointment.

The bottom line is that Attard, a 56-year-old native of Malta who recently reached the 1,500 career victories mark, could put himself on the North American map with a victory by Jiggs Coz in Sunday's $1 million Queen's Plate.

Attard already has won a $1 million race, sending out Numerous Times to take the Woodbine Mile in 2001.

Numerous Times was on the grounds at Gulfstream Park for that year's Breeders' Cup Mile, but was scratched the day before the race after wrenching an ankle in his stall.

Jiggs Coz has a way to go before proving himself to be of that ilk.

But the increasing presence of Woodbine as a simulcast product and the fact that the Queen's Plate is far and away the most important race on a light North American stakes schedule this Sunday could put Jiggs Coz and Attard in the spotlight.

Jiggs Coz, coming off an emphatic victory in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial here June 3, is the horse to beat when he stretches out to 1 1/4 miles for the first leg of this country's Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Bred by his owner, Mel Lawson, Jiggs Coz was at the track early last year but did not debut until Oct.o9.

"We took our time with him," Attard said. "He had shins, too. But by his fourth work, he'd really started showing us something."

Jiggs Coz won his debut, at 6 1/2 furlongs of turf, then stretched out to 1 1/8 miles four weeks later for the Coronation Futurity and finished third after leading to the top of the stretch.

"We knew he'd go the distance," Attard said. "But we had blinkers on him, and he wouldn't relax. His next start we took them off, and he relaxed fine."

Jiggs Coz, in fact, has never looked back since shedding the blinkers, winning the 1 1/16-mile Display in his 2-year-old finale on Nov. 25 and, after wintering in Kentucky, the seven-furlong Queenston and the 1o1/8-mile Plate Trial in his two starts here this year.

Attard believes Jiggs Coz can take another step forward here on Queen's Plate Day after winning the Plate Trial by 3 1/4 lengths in handy fashion June 3.

"He was tight enough to win his last race," Attard said. "But he should improve a little bit off that."

With Attard known for being a very physical and vocal supporter when his horses turn for home, those in his proximity may be well-advised to steer clear of the trainer if Jiggs Coz is headed for victory.

Three U.S.-based horses set for Plate

In what is becoming the norm rather than the exception, the prospective nine-horse field for the Queen's Plate includes three horses based south of the border.

Twilight Meteor, who has been at Belmont with trainer Todd Pletcher; Daaher, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and most recently at Sarotoga; and Cobrador, who has been at Arlington Park with trainer Richie Scherer, were all scheduled to arrive at Woodbine on Wednesday morning.

Twilight Meteor has won stakes on turf and Polytrack and will be making his Woodbine debut.

In his last start, which came in Belmont's Straight Deal at one mile on turf on May 23, Twilight Meteor stalked the pace and weakened late to finish 2 1/4 lengths back in third place.

Daaher will be making just his third career start in the Queen's Plate and won his maiden at 1 1/16 miles at Belmont in his last outing, on May 12.

Cobrador will be making his third trip to Woodbine and finished fourth when making his first start for Scherer in the Plate Trial.

Marchfield, the clear runner-up in the Plate Trial, and Alezzandro, who weakened to finish third, will be back to try Jiggs Cog again here Sunday, as will the maiden Include Us, the Plate Trial's fifth-place finisher.

Two other locally based horses, Leonnatus Anteas and Mike Fox, are coming into the Queen's Plate off solid efforts here against older rivals.

Leonnatus Anteas, winner of three stakes in as many starts here last year and Canada's champion 2-year-old male, has raced just once this season, finishing a close second in a third-level allowance at seven furlongs on June 3.

Mike Fox won a second-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on May 23.