05/30/2007 11:00PM

Leonnatus Anteas preps vs. older


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Leonnatus Anteas, Canada's champion 2-year-old of 2006, will make his first start of the year at Woodbine on Sunday in an unusual spot.

Leonnatus Anteas, undefeated in three starts at 2, will be facing older rivals while competing under third-level allowance conditions in an $80,000 optional claimer at seven furlongs.

Trainer Kevin Attard said he wanted to race him this weekend, and had the Sunday race not gone he had a potential alternative at Fort Erie.

"Had he not run, I'd have had to work him anyway," said Attard, who trains Leonnatus Anteas for Knob Hill Stable and the Estate of Steve Stavro. "He's definitely going to get a lot more out of this race than any work."

If all goes well, then Sunday's race will lead Leonnatus Anteas straight to the $1 million Queen's Plate, a 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds here June 24.

"It gives me three weeks to the Plate," said Attard. "I don't plan on running him again in between, so I'm hoping we get a good race out of it and it sets us up."

Jono Jones retains the mount on Leonnatus Anteas and also will ride his stablemate Alezzandro in Sunday's 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial.

Alezzandro has raced just once, winning a 6o1/2-furlong maiden race here May 13.

"I had him almost ready to run on Plate Day last year, but I wasn't happy with his last gate work so I skipped the race," said Attard. "Then he came up with some 2-year-old problems, and I had to give him the rest of the year off."

Alezzandro wintered with Leonnatus Anteas and others in Attard's string at Payson Park this past winter.

"He's doing great," said Attard. "I'm kind of excited about this horse. He showed a lot of promise right from the beginning. I've been kind of high on him for a while.

"He ran the way he'd worked all his life first time out. He's been working up a storm heading into this race, and if he runs as good as he's been working he should be in the hunt."

Allowance may produce two Plate starters

Coming into the 2007 meeting here, High Act and Mountain Wolf loomed as solid Queen's Plate contenders for Stronach Stable and trainer Brian Lynch.

But with High Act falling behind schedule due to a pulled muscle, and Mountain Wolf euthanized after breaking down, Team Stronach's Queen's Plate plans were in disarray.

High Act is not completely out of the picture, however, and a couple of his less-heralded stablemates could step up to the Plate in what would be an otherwise ordinary event here Saturday afternoon.

Ghetto Superstar and Gator King, both Queen's Plate eligible, will compete as a Stronach Stable entry in the second race, a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles.

"If they both run well - and I predict they will - they'll go in the Queen's Plate," said Lynch.

Ghetto Superstar and Gator King are long on promise but short on experience.

Neither horse raced at 2 and Ghetto Superstar comes into Saturday's race with two starts under his belt, one more than Gator King.

"Ghetto Superstar had ankle surgery as a young horse, and was late getting started," said Lynch. "He was in Florida with me this winter, and I was trying to get a race into him, but I couldn't get him ready in time. I had him in the entries once, but I had to scratch him."

Ghetto Superstar finally made it to the races here April 22, finishing eighth in a seven-furlong maiden special.

Four weeks later, stretching out to 1 1/16 miles and racing on Lasix for the first time in a "B" maiden special, Ghetto Superstar was a 3o1/4-length winner under jockey Patrick Husbands.

"Patrick said he won easily," said Lynch. "He was still green, but he won at a gallop. I think he'll improve again."

Gator King got an even later start to his career, finishing a distant fourth on May 6 in a maiden race won by Plate Trial contender Marchfield with Mountain Wolf a close second.

"He was such a late-developing horse," said Lynch. "I always had high hopes for him. Having that race experience the other day, he's liable to step right up."

Todd Kabel has picked up the mount on Gator King.

Northern Report, trained by Mike Keogh, and Sergei, trained by Attard, are the other Queen's Plate eligibles in Saturday's second race.

Maiden takes shot at Plate Trial

Keogh also is taking a shot at Sunday's Plate Trial with Golani, who remains a maiden after eight starts.

"If there had been a maiden race I would have gone there," said Keogh. "I'm still thinking about the Plate, because I think he'll go that far, whereas some horses just don't want to go a mile and a quarter. He's just a plodder; he'll go all day long."

Murani ready ahead of schedule

Murani, who became a stakes winner at the direct expense of odds-on Noble Stella in the Flaming Page over 1 1/2 miles on turf here last Sept. 24, will represent the Keogh barn in Saturday's Nassau.

The Grade 2, $300,000 Nassau, a 1 1/16-mile turf race, attracted a field of eight fillies and mares.

"It had never crossed my mind to run her in this race until a couple of weeks ago," said Keogh. "I didn't think she'd be ready in time. She's come around quicker than I thought."

Murani, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old, had been scheduled to race in the $1 million E.P. Taylor on Oct. 28 but an injury ended her campaign.

"She never started up until January," said Keogh, who had Murani at his off-season headquarters in South Carolina until she returned with his first wave toward the end of March.

Emile Ramsammy, who piloted Murani to 3 wins in 5 starts last year, retains the mount.