06/16/2005 11:00PM

King of Jazz fine-tuned for trip to Queen's Plate


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - King of Jazz, who will be making his first local appearance in next Sunday's $1 million Queen's Plate, had his final major tune-up at Churchill Downs on Friday morning.

With exercise rider Andrea Manusco in the saddle, King of Jazz breezed five furlongs in a brisk 59.20 seconds.

"I was pleased with him," said Ian Wilkes, assistant to Carl Nafzger, who trains King of Jazz for Buckram Oak Farm. "He did everything I wanted, and got everything out of it I think he needed."

King of Jazz heads into the Queen's Plate, a 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, off back-to-back wins at 1 1/8 miles in Kentucky.

Rafael Bejarano, who piloted King of Jazz to the most recent victory, in a first-level allowance at Churchill Downs on May 25, will retain the mount.

King of Jazz is slated to ship up to Woodbine on Thursday.

Out From Africa to miss first leg

Out From Africa, the official third-place finisher in the 1 1/8- mile Plate Trial here on June 5, will not be returning for the big dance.

"We got a little bit delayed on the horse," said John Ross, who trains Out From Africa for Huntington Stud Farm. "We'd prefer to have him right on target for the Prince of Wales. That's our plan."

The 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales, a $500,000 race at Fort Erie on July 17, is the second leg in the Canadian Triple Crown.

Out From Africa, a winner and stakes-placed in two starts at 2, had just a six-furlong allowance win under his belt this season going into the Plate Trial, which was his first try beyond 6 1/2 furlongs.

After cutting out the pace there, Out From Africa weakened slightly to finish fourth, beaten six lengths. He was moved up to third after the controversial disqualification of first-place finisher Dance With Ravens.

Niigon readies for Dominion Day

Niigon, last year's Queen's Plate winner, breezed six furlongs on the main track in 1:14.20 here Friday morning. Jockey Robert Landry was aboard for the move, which was Niigon's official tune-up for the July 1 Dominion Day Handicap.

"It was nice," said Eric Coatrieux, who trains Niigon for Chiefswood Stable. "I was really happy with it."

Niigon, who is based at nearby Chiefswood Farm, is required to show a published work at Woodbine if he is entered and has not started within 30 days.

The colt's last race, a second-level allowance win at 1 1/16 miles, came here May 29. That also was Niigon's first success since the Queen's Plate, ending a six-race losing streak.

The Grade 3, $200,000 Dominion Day should feature a 1 1/4-mile rematch between Niigon and A Bit O'Gold, last year's Plate runner-up.

A Bit O'Gold turned the tables on Niigon in the Prince of Wales, winning by a head.

Financingavailable gets late start

Financingavailable, who wound up her 3-year-old campaign on a high note, will be looking to pick up where she left off in Sunday's supporting feature, the $80,250 Zadracarta.

The Zadracarta, an overnight stakes, is a six-furlong turf race for Ontario-foaled fillies and mares, 3 and up.

Purchased privately here last summer, Financingavailable finished a close second in the La Prevoyante and rattled off back-to-back Ontario-sired conditioned allowance scores before becoming a stakes winner in the Jammed Lovely in her last start, Nov. 14.

"She just got a late start this year," said Lorne Richards, who trains Financingavailable for K.K. Sangara. "The weather and the track weren't that great, but I wasn't really planning to get her going until June, anyway. Most of the money for her is later in the year."

Financingavailable has not worked particularly swiftly but has run well fresh in the past, winning her maiden at first crack here last spring.

"She's the kind of horse you don't have to do a whole lot with," said Richards. "She's fit enough, I hope."

Questing Knight top claimer

Questing Knight has been named Woodbine's 2004 claimer of the year by the Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club.

The racing club will honor Questing Knight and Woodbine's leading human performers of 2004 at its 43rd annual awards day here Sunday.

Questing Knight, a 6-year-old gelding, is owned by the Overheath Stable of Charles Overland and partners and is trained by Mike DePaulo.

Last year, Questing Knight started 14 times, with all but one of those appearances coming in the claiming ranks, and compiled a record of 4-2-1. His successes, all around two turns, came for claiming prices of $18,000 (twice), $22,000, and $12,500.

Questing Knight has picked up where he left off this season, winning for $16,000 and $22,000 in his first two starts before finishing a creditable fourth in a first-level turf allowance.

In his last start, on June 9, Questing Knight was a close second in another first-level allowance, this time at 1 1/16 miles on the main track here.

"He's a talented horse," said DePaulo. "He's probably the best horse I've ever trained who never won a stake. He's really come around now."

DePaulo trained a previous racing club claimer of the year, Quest for Lisa, who was honored in 1995.

Lima to receive award of merit

Other award recipients will include Todd Kabel, leading jockey; Corey Fraser, leading apprentice jockey; Sid Attard, leading trainer; and Sam-Son Farm, leading owner.

The jockey and trainer awards are based on races won, the owner prize on money won.

Sam Lima, longtime president of the Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club as well as an owner and Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association representative, will be presented with a special award of merit recognizing his 42 years of service to Thoroughbred horse racing.

The group will be based in the second-floor International Room for the afternoon, and presentations will be made in front of the grandstand between races.