07/08/2004 11:00PM

For Niigon, it's back to work


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Niigon, in his first serious piece of work since winning the June 27 Queen's Plate, went six furlongs in 1:14 at his home base, his owner's Chiefswood Farm, Friday morning.

The object of the exercise was to keep Niigon in tune for the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, next Sunday's $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes over 1 3/16 miles at Fort Erie.

The series for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds concludes here Aug. 8 with the $500,000 Breeders', a 1 1/2-mile turf race. A $500,000 bonus awaits a horse who sweeps the triple.

Niigon, owned by Chiefswood Stable and trained by Eric Coatrieux, lives and does almost all of his training at the nearby Chiefswood spread, and his workouts are not officially recognized. But, Wales watchers will be glad to know that Niigon is hale and hearty.

"Everything went well," said Coatrieux, after watching Niigon work under his regular rider Robert Landry. "He's on the right schedule."

Coatrieux generally ships his charges into Woodbine on race day but plans to send Niigon down to Fort Erie Friday to give him some time to adjust to unfamiliar environment.

Niigon prevailed by three-quarters of a length in the 1 1/4-mile Plate and the runner-up there, A Bit O'Gold, will be seeking revenge in the Prince of Wales.

Will He Crow, third in the Plate, also is among the eight or nine horses considered probable for the Prince of Wales as of Friday morning.

'Jimmy' headed for Wales

Just in Case Jimmy, the fourth-place finisher in the Plate, worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 on a fast main track Friday and is a probable Wales entrant.

Regular rider Richard Dos Ramos was aboard for the work.

"I wasn't looking for anything fancy," said Roger Attfield, who trains Just in Case Jimmy and is a co-owner along with Bill Werner. "He's fit enough."

Just in Case Jimmy won his maiden over 1 1/16 miles in his start prior to the Plate.

Picadilly Bay healthy again

Picadilly Bay, a late defector from the Plate picture, tuned up on a fast training track here Thursday in preparation for a Prince of Wales appearance.

Constant Montpellier, who has the call for the Wales, was in the irons as Picadilly Bay worked in company with stablemate Brattothecore, a 4-year-old stakes-winning filly. The clockers caught the pair in 1:43.80 for one mile.

"A couple of days before the Plate, he had a cough," said John Ross, who trains Picadilly Bay for Gary Wellwood and Larry Titchner.

"We scoped him, and he had mucus in his lungs. It was a good thing we caught it. If he'd run him when he wasn't right, he could have got very sick."

Picadilly Bay began the season in promising fashion, winning his maiden over 6 1/2 furlongs and a first-level allowance at seven furlongs, but then finished a distant fifth in the 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park here June 13.

Other Wales probables include the Jim Day-trained pair of His Smoothness and Copper Trail, who finished fifth and ninth in the Plate.

Jim McKnight would retain the mount on His Smoothness, with regular rider Na Somsanith slated for Copper Trail.

One to Celebrate, owned by Curraghmore Farm and Formal Racing Stable, is a definite Prince of Wales runner.

Trained by Reade Baker, One to Celebrate was an impressive winner of his first start around two turns, which came in a first-level allowance for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward here July 1. Regular rider Rui Pimentel retains the mount.

Gold Gunner, coming off a lengthy win in a first-level optional claiming race at 1 1/16 miles here last Sunday, is on the fence for the Wales.

Breeders' prep

Meanwhile, a different group of 3-year-olds will do battle here in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Toronto Cup

The Toronto Cup, an open race over 1 1/8 miles of turf, also happens to be ideally situated as a prep for the Breeders' and will attract several Canadian-breds.

Alleged Ruler and Silver Ticket, who finished seventh and eighth in the Plate, are among the probables for the Toronto Cup.

Alleged Ruler also races for Chiefswood and Coatrieux, while Silver Ticket is owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Mark Frostad.

Silver Ticket had his first post-Plate prep here Friday, going five furlongs on the main track in a bullet 59.40 seconds.

Regular rider Todd Kabel was aboard Silver Ticket, whose only other start this year was a 4 1/2-length victory in a first-level allowance over a mile of turf.

Burst of Fire, who worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 on the main track under exercise rider Hugh Chatman, and Lone Arrow, who prepped five furlongs in 1:02.40 on the training track under Dos Ramos, are other Canadian-bred hopefuls for the Toronto Cup.

Both made their last start in the Charlie Barley, a one-mile turf race here Queen's Plate Day, with Burst of Fire finishing second and Lone Arrow fifth.

Honolua Storm will be making his turf debut in the Toronto Cup. A Kentucky-bred, he finished third in his stakes debut here in the 1 1/16-mile Marine and then was a smart winner of a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles, which was the first race on the Plate card.