04/27/2005 11:00PM

Newcomer Royal Place dives into deep end


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - While the spotlight will be on champions Mobil and A Bit O'Gold here in Saturday's Vigil Stakes, the field also has an interesting newcomer in Royal Place.

Owned by British Columbia-based K.K. Sangara, Royal Place checked in from California last week and had his first breeze over the Woodbine track on Tuesday.

"K.K. had been thinking about sending him here for the last few months," said Lorne Richards, who trains for Sangara here. "Once Santa Anita ended, there wasn't really a lot for him down there."

Royal Place, a 5-year-old Florida-bred, was claimed for $62,500 at Del Mar in the summer of 2003 with the objective of being a British Columbia Derby starter for Sangara.

He finished fifth in the B.C. Derby, but Royal Place has gone on to be a productive performer. Among his victories are the Grade 3 Lt. Governor's at Hastings last year and the Daytona at Santa Anita this winter.

"He's durable and versatile; he seems to try every time," said Richards, noting that Royal Place has run well at distances ranging from 4 1/2 furlongs to 1 3/8 miles and has handled both dirt and turf in his 31-start career.

"We've been trying to find a reason not to run him in the Vigil, but he seems to be doing pretty good," Richards added. "If he runs one of his better races, he has to be competitive."

Richards stable updates

Financingavailable, who emerged as the star of the Richards stable here last fall, is at the track but is not scheduled to race until June.

"There's not really a whole lot for her before then," said Richards. "I want to get the easiest spots for her that I can."

Financingavailable, an Ontario-sired 4-year-old filly, was purchased privately from owner-trainer Mark Casse last summer and went on the make four starts for her new connections.

After finishing a close second in the La Prevoyante over one mile on the turf, Financingavailable won back-to-back restricted allowance races over seven furlongs on turf and dirt.

Then, in her 2004 finale, Financingavailable was a romping winner of the seven-furlong Jammed Lovely on the main track. Because she is Ontario-sired, she remains eligible for the three-other-than allowance condition.

Sweet Problem, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old filly who was the stable's other stakes winner last year, was acquired via claim for $50,000 from Casse and owner Sez Who Racing here in September of 2003.

Winner of the Alywow and almost $250,000 last year, Sweet Problem is ready to run, and Richards is searching for the appropriate spot.

Buoyed by their previous success, Richards and Sangara went back to the Casse well late last fall and arranged the private purchase of P.J.'s Paulie Boy and Diamondsfora Lady from him.

P.J.'s Paulie Boy, a Florida-bred 7-year-old horse who is eligible for the three-other-than allowance condition, has won 5 of 29 starts and $319,126.

Diamondsfora Lady, a Florida-bred 4-year-old filly, won her maiden over six furlongs on the turf here last fall and finished third in each of her two subsequent outings.

Day Phillips barn has Plate horse

Trainer Catherine Day Phillips, who sent out A Bit O'Gold to a second-place finish in last year's Queen's Plate, has a candidate for this year's Plate in Signals Inthe Wind.

But whereas A Bit O'Gold had entered his 3-year-old campaign as a proven commodity, Signals Inthe Wind did not make his debut until this February at Turfway Park.

Signals Inthe Wind, a British Columbia-bred who races for his breeder, John Gunther, came into the Day Phillips barn here last summer.

"We got him ready to run twice," said Day Phillips. "But he's such a huge horse; it just wasn't the right thing to run him. He had shown moments of being brilliant, but was having a hard time putting it together."

Signals Inthe Wind remained at the track through the end of the meeting and then shipped to Kentucky and trainer Brad Cox.

"We didn't want to stop on him," said Day Phillips. "That's why he went to Turfway; we wanted him to stay in a racetrack situation."

Signals Inthe Wind wasted little time in making his presence felt, winning a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special by 7 1/2 lengths in his Feb. 25 debut. That race earned the colt a Beyer Speed Figure of 89.

Four weeks later, Signals Inthe Wind stretched out to a mile and was a game second, beaten a neck, in a first-level allowance.

But in his next and most recent start, in a first-level allowance at Keeneland April 17, Signals Inthe Wind faltered badly to finish ninth in a field of 11 at 1 1/16 miles.

On Tuesday, Signals Inthe Wind returned to Day Phillips at Woodbine. "He looks great," she said. "He's in very good order. We'll train him for a couple of days and see where we're at."

Black is Attfield's replacement

Ian Black, the Kinghaven Farm manager for the past 30 years, has added the duties of trainer to his portfolio.

Kinghaven, owned by Woodbine's vice president and chief executive officer David Willmot, ended a long association with trainer Roger Attfield this year.

Jeff Bowen, Black's son-in-law, served as Kinghaven's trainer of record while Black went through the process of obtaining his license.

"When David cut back, there wasn't as much for me to do at the farm," said the 61-year-old Black. "I wanted to give training a shot."

Top apprentice gets extension

Corey Fraser, last year's Sovereign Award-winning apprentice rider, has been granted a 157-day extension to his apprentice allowance.

The extension, which will run through Sept. 30, includes a 33-day medical extension for time missed last year.