06/24/2004 12:00AM

This pair prefers life on the farm

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Woodbine Entertainment
Niigon (above) is the probable second choice to Trial winner A Bit O'Gold in Sunday's $1 million Queen's Plate.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - While the majority of the 14 Queen's Plate candidates galloped over Woodbine's main track Thursday, Niigon and Alleged Ruler both took their exercise at nearby Chiefswood Farm.

Niigon, runner-up in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial here June 6, is the probable second choice to Trial winner A Bit O'Gold in Sunday's $1 million Queen's Plate.

The 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Alleged Ruler, coming into the Plate off a maiden win over 1 1/16 miles here May 29, shipped into Woodbine to work impressively prior to last Sunday's first race and looms an interesting longshot.

Owned and bred by Chiefswood Stable and trained by Eric Coatrieux, both Niigon and Alleged Ruler are stabled on the farm and come to Woodbine only to race or for specific works.

Both will leave home early Sunday morning for their day at the Plate.

Simon Husbands to ride Archer Fleet

The final piece of the Plate puzzle fell into place here Friday morning when trainer Vito Armata announced that Simon Husbands had picked up the mount on Archer Fleet.

Husbands, 34, will be riding in his first Queen's Plate. His younger brother, Patrick Husbands, won last year's Canadian Triple Crown with Wando and will ride Kent Ridge on Sunday.

Archer Fleet comes into the Plate off a second-place finish to Kent Ridge in a 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward here May 21.

Armata won the 2002 Plate with 82-1 shot T J's Lucky Moon.

Soaring Free tops Highlander

Advance wagering on Sunday's full Woodbine card will open at approximately 3 p.m. Saturday at all Woodbine Entertainment Group locations and for telephone account and online wagering customers.

Woodbine will card 11 races on Sunday, with a special early post time of 12:25 p.m. Eastern. The last race is slated to go at 6:16 p.m.

The scheduled post time for the Queen's Plate is 5:07 p.m. Eastern and the race will be televised live, in a 90-minute broadcast beginning at 4 p.m. on Headline Sports (The Score).

Sunday's card also will include the Grade 3, $200,000 Highlander Handicap, a six-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds and upward. The Highlander is scheduled to go as the fourth race, at 1:58 p.m.

Soaring Free, Canada's reigning champion sprinter and also a finalist in the turf male division last year, will be the 123-pound highweight and the horse to beat in the Highlander.