05/09/2006 11:00PM

Plate is Pyramid Park's ultimate goal

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Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Pyramid Park will run in an allowance Friday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A first-level allowance race for Ontario-sired runners on a weekday afternoon at Woodbine might seem like a far cry from a race like the $1 million Queen's Plate.

But Pyramid Park, one of the top 2-year-olds here last year, will be looking to take his first serious step on the road to the June 25 Queen's Plate in just such a race here Friday.

The 1 1/16-mile allowance attracted a field of six, including one 4-year-old and one 5-year-old, and Pyramid Park should be a prohibitive choice to take home the winner's share of the $69,100 purse.

Pyramid Park, owned and bred by Thor Eaton and trained by Michael Doyle, won his maiden in his fourth start, the 1 1/16-mile Cup and Saucer on turf here last October. Returned to the main track for the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity, Pyramid Park finished a close second, beaten a neck by Thinking Out Loud, with Shillelagh Slew another neck back in third.

In his final outing of the season, which came in the 1 1/16-mile Kingarvie, Pyramid Park finished fourth behind Bad Hat, who was capping an undefeated three-start campaign. Doyle said he went into that race with painful shins.

Doyle took Pyramid Park to Palm Meadows in Florida for the off-season. "He had six or seven weeks off, then a lot of jogging while his shins settled down," Doyle said. "Then he did a bunch of nice easy works, getting ready, getting fit. He had a nice winter."

Pyramid Park returned to Woodbine in mid-April and made his first start of the season on April 23 in a first-level Ontario-sired allowance over seven furlongs. That race was run over sloppy going, which Pyramid Park apparently did not favor, but he still rallied well to finish a clear second.

"I loved it," said Doyle, of Pyramid Park's opener. "It was over a track he didn't like, and a distance he didn't like either."

Doyle is confident that Pyramid Park will like the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Queen's Plate, and sees Friday's race as an important move in that direction.

"All I'm trying to do is to get a race into him going around two turns," said Doyle. "He needs to get going to make the Plate. I'd like to have a fast track, get a really good race into him, and have him gallop out good."

While Pyramid Park was nominated to the May 20 Marine Stakes, and will be nominated to the June 4 Plate Trial, Doyle should still have the option of taking the allowance route to the Plate regardless of Friday's outcome.

"The Plate's the big day," said Doyle. "If you can get the horse there right you might as well not show your hand, unless you have to."

Regular rider Slade Callaghan retains the mount on Pyramid Park, whose opponents include Molinaro Beau and Pressac.

Molinaro Beau, trained by Phil England, finished fourth as a maiden, beaten 6 1/2 lengths, in last year's Queen's Plate, and will be making his first start of the season.

Pressac, trained by Dave Cotey, was the runner-up in the Kingarvie but remains winless in nine outings, including a distant fourth-place finish in his 2005 debut.

Blinkers on for Verne's Baby

Verne's Baby, who suffered his first defeat when making his fourth career start and seasonal bow here April 22, will be looking to rebound when he adds blinkers for Saturday's $125,000 New Providence.

The New Providence, a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward, attracted a competitive field of eight.

Verne's Baby, a 4-year-old gelding owned and bred by George Bigliardi, prevailed in his lone outing and 2 and in both of his appearances here last year, including the seven-furlong Queenston on May 7. Shortly thereafter, however, Verne's Baby underwent knee surgery.

After starting back up on the farm in mid-January, Verne's Baby joined trainer Sid Attard here when Woodbine reopened and had worked well for his first start of the year, which was at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Sent off as the 3-5 choice there, Verne's Baby was unable to run down fellow New Providence contestant Main Executive and had to settle for second while attempting to gawk at the sights in the grandstand early in the stretch run.

"He's always looking around turning for home," said Attard. "He won't concentrate. He worked with blinkers the other day, and was very good."

Regular rider Emile Ramsammy was aboard for that drill, which was a bullet five furlongs in the mud here last Saturday, and retains the mount for the New Providence.

Miss Concerto eligible to improve

Attard also plans to be represented in Sunday's Grade 3, 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie with Miss Concerto, who is slated to make her second start of the season in the $150,000 race for fillies and mares.

Miss Concerto, owned by Carlo and Lou Tucci, was claimed for $50,000 here last July 31 and went on to win three of her next five starts, including the Grade 3 Bessarabian at seven furlongs.

In her first start of 2006, which came in the six-furlong Whimsical here April 16, Miss Concerto closed from 12th place to finish sixth in the field of 13, beaten 4 1/4 lengths.

"She ran all right," said Attard. "She ran out of ground.

"Six and a half furlongs is going to help her a little more. I think she'll run good there."

Apprentice jockey Emma Jayne-Wilson retains the mount on Miss Concerto.