05/01/2003 12:00AM

Mobil starts Plate quest in Queenston


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Mobil and Quiet Dare, two of the top 2-year-olds in Canada in 2002, will join the road to the Queen's Plate Saturday at Woodbine in the $160,500 Queenston Stakes.

Mobil is one of two contenders for the June 22 Queen's Plate trained by Mike Keogh, who also has the race's winter-book favorite, Wando. Mobil hasn't run since he finished in a dead heat for first with Arco's Gold in the Nov. 2 Coronation Futurity. He was disqualified and placed second in that race because his rider's whip struck Arco's Gold.

Keogh, who won the 1999 Queenston with Woodcarver, said he wasn't surprised to see Mobil running on the front end in the nine-furlong Coronation. "He was pretty sharp going into it," Keogh said. "He broke sharp, and then jumped out there, which was a little unusual for him."

Keogh said he anticipates another aggressive effort from Mobil Saturday, and is taking the blinkers off of him.

"It's his first start of the year, so he's going to be sharp, for sure," Keogh said. "I'm pulling the blinkers off him, which I can do because he got taken down in his last race. He's been working very well without them this year."

Quiet Dare, trained by Mac Benson, was a fast-closing second when he made his debut Oct. 12. He graduated two weeks later in a six-furlong maiden special weight race, and then won the restricted Sunny's Halo Stakes with authority in his final 2-year-old appearance.

Benson said Quiet Dare was slow to come around at 2.

"We were really late getting him started," Benson said. "He was big and overgrown as a yearling, and had curbs as a 2-year-old. He really surprised us in his first race. He ran a dynamite race, and just got beat. From that point, he went on and never looked back."

Benson said Quiet Dare has been doing well in recent weeks.

"He's trained very good up to this race," Benson said. "We're heading for the Plate, and hopefully this will be a stepping-stone. This is not a do or die situation."

Three other Canadian-bred 3-year-olds were entered in the seven-furlong race - Shipman, Mr. Believable, and Awesome Action.

Shipman came from off the pace to take his season opener in allowance company. He tired after taking part in a speed duel a week later in the Achievement Handicap, and is shedding blinkers Saturday.

"We're trying to get him to rate a little," said trainer Mike DePaulo.

Post time for the first of 11 races Saturday is 12:45 p.m.