05/21/2006 11:00PM

Malakoff going straight to Plate

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Malakoff, who had quietly been developing a following here, barged into the Queen's Plate picture by cruising to a 7 1/4-length victory in last Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Marine Stakes.

Owned by Stronach Stables and trained by Brian Lynch, Malakoff made his stakes debut in the 1 1/16-mile Marine after winning his maiden over the same distance here April 30.

Malakoff, the only Canadian-bred in the field of five, earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 90 under jockey Todd Kabel.

"He did it the right way," said Lynch, who recorded his first local stakes winner after officially taking over as a Stronach trainer in Florida late last fall. "He settled off them and came with his run. He's heading in the right direction."

Kabel, who is now 2 for 2 aboard Malakoff, recorded his second stakes victory of the meeting.

Malakoff began his career here last November with a second-place finish at six furlongs. He then wintered in Florida and ran two solid races at Gulfstream, including a second-place finish in a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight race April 1.

Although Malakoff is nominated to the June 4 Plate Trial, the plan calls for him to go straight to the $1 million Queen's Plate, a 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds here June 25.

"I'd just like to give him a little bit of time," said Lynch. "I think he got enough out of that race [the Marine]. Hopefully, we'll have a fresh horse for the Plate. I always felt he'd have no trouble getting the distance."

The last horse to post back-to-back victories in the Marine and Queen's Plate was Wando in 2003, when the races were five weeks apart. Victor Cooley also followed that blueprint in 1996, when the Marine and Queen's Plate were just four weeks apart.

Arch Hall takes Eclipse

Arch Hall ($6.80) prevailed over the 6-5 favorite, Kentucky shipper Alumni Hall, in Monday's Grade 3, $150,400 Eclipse Stakes.

Arch Hall raced about four lengths off a slow pace in the 1 1/16-mile event for older runners. He made a four-wide bid on the far turn and hit the front at the quarter pole, then drew off for a 2 3/4-length victory. The final time was 1:44.10.

"He went into this race at his best," said Patrick Husbands, who rode Arch Hall. "He probably won't get any better."

Todd Kabel checked his mount, Cryptograph, on the far turn, and claimed foul on Arch Hall for interference inside the quarter pole, but it was disallowed by the stewards.

Arch Hall banked $90,000 for Melnyk Racing Stable and trainer Mark Casse.

Plate Trial runners put in works

Several of the 19 nominees for the $150,000 Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, had important workouts over the long weekend.

Thinking Out Loud and Bridgecut, both trained by David Bell, drilled seven furlongs in company on the main track here Monday. On Sunday, Edenwold worked one mile and Atlas Shrugs worked seven furlongs on the main track.

Thinking Out Loud was timed in 1:30.20 under Jim McAleney, and Bridgecut was timed in 1:30.60 under Emile Ramsammy.

"Thinking Out Loud worked strong all the way," said Bell. "He finished very strong, galloped out strong, and pulled up happy.

"Bridgecut has never been much of a strong work horse, but he worked well in his own way," said Bell.

Thinking Out Loud capped his 2-year-old campaign by becoming a stakes winner in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity. Things came up all wrong, however, when he made his season debut in the seven-furlong Queenston, in which he was a surprising early leader and faded to sixth in the field of seven.

"I was worried about going seven furlongs, anyway," said Bell. "It's a tough distance for a horse who's shown speed going long, but Todd and I both felt there was enough real speed in there that he'd be sitting in behind and getting dirt in his face. Then he broke awkwardly and ran up to the lead. That kind of gassed him, and they all went by him. It was just a bad race."

Bridgecut also has made just one appearance this year, finishing fourth in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles. He finished fifth in the Coronation and closed his 2-year-old season with a third-place finish behind American-breds in the 1 1/16-mile Display.

Edenwold, Canada's champion 2-year-old male, worked a mile in 1:42.40 under windy conditions with Ramsammy aboard.

"He broke off with another horse, but he basically worked on his own," said Josie Carroll. "He's not the type of horse who ever works strongly. To work a mile, finishing up against that headwind, I thought it was a pretty good work."

Edenwold is slated to make his second start of the season in the Plate Trial after finishing second by a neck to Atlas Shrugs in the Queenston.

Atlas Shrugs, who swept the sprint stakes preps for the Queen's Plate with victories in the six-furlong Woodstock and the Queenston, breezed his seven furlongs in 1:28.80 under regular rider Corey Fraser.

"He breezed well," said trainer Reade Baker. "The condition of the track was poor, and there was a strong, strong wind. He was going to work by himself, but two other horses hooked up with him. That worked perfect. He beat them both, running on the inside."

Atlas Shrugs's two wins this spring came via inside rallies. He will be making his first start beyond seven furlongs in the Plate Trial.

Baker says Bear Character bled in Marine

Baker's barn did not fare nearly as well in the Marine, in which Bear Character finished third as the odds-on choice.

"He bled," said Baker, adding that Bear Character was heading back out west to trainer Dale Greenwood, where races such as Stampede Park's Alberta Derby and Northlands Park's Canadian Derby would be on his agenda.

Bear Character began his career at Northlands and won the seven-furlong Swynford here for Greenwood before going south with Baker this winter.

Blood tests to be administered without notice

The Ontario Racing Commission has released a directive that requires all owners and trainers to make their horses available to have a blood sample taken at any time and at any place, without prior notice, effective immediately. Refusal to comply could result in the horse in question being scratched and the trainer and/or owner being refused the right to enter horses in Ontario.