06/22/2004 11:00PM

Profiling Plate winners - and losers


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The four most recent runnings of the $1 million Queen's Plate, North America's oldest continuously run stakes race, have yielded a wide variety of results.

Scatter the Gold, a blue-blooded Sam-Son Farm runner, won the 2000 Plate as a maiden, and his full sister, Dancethruthedawn, became the 33rd filly to win the race in 2001.

In 2002, T J's Lucky Moon returned the second-highest price in the race's 144-year history ($166), winning the big one right after winning a maiden race in his previous start. Last year, Wando was made the favorite with two minutes to post, then led throughout to win by nine lengths.

This year's Queen's Plate on Sunday at Woodbine is a wonderful betting race. The favorite, A Bit O'Gold, will try to become the first Plate Trial Stakes winner to prevail in the 1 1/4-mile Plate since Alydeed in 1992. (Three of the last 11 Plate winners - Peteski, Basqueian, and Woodcarver - were narrowly defeated in the Trial).

The Trial has been the most productive Plate prep over the years. Four of the last 10 Plate winners came out of the Trial, although it is worth noting that each of the last four Plate winners bypassed the Trial.

Two of the last seven Plate winners, T J's Lucky Moon and Awesome Again, were coming off a maiden win. The latter had won a maiden special at Hollywood Park in his previous race and had never raced until about five weeks before the Plate. Scatter the Gold was a fast-closing second in a maiden race on turf just before his surprising Plate victory.

This year's field has three runners coming off 1 1/16-mile maiden wins at Woodbine - Alleged Ruler, Just in Case Jimmy, and Will He Crow.

Dancethruthedawn won the Labatt Woodbine Oaks (formerly the Canadian Oaks) just two weeks prior to the Plate, and is one of two Sam-Son Farm fillies to have won the race, along with her dam, Dance Smartly.

Copper Trail was a closing second two weeks ago, in the nine-furlong Victoria Park, an open stakes. His trainer, Jim Day, took the Victoria Park and the Plate with Sam-Son's Regal Intention, when the two races were a mere eight days apart in 1988.

Wando and Victor Cooley are the two most recent Plate winners who were coming off a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Marine Stakes. There was a four-week gap between the two races when Victor Cooley turned the trick in 1996.

Wando broke some rules when he won last year's Plate off a five-week break. Of the 10 horses who competed in the Plate following a layoff of at least five weeks since 1998, Wando is the only one to hit the board.

Archer Fleet and Kent Ridge, both sons of 1998 Plate winner Archers Bay, are returning from a five-week freshening in this year's renewal.

Silver Ticket and Kent Ridge have run only once this year, which may hinder their chances considerably. No horse has won the Plate with only one previous start that year since the race was moved to Woodbine in 1956.

Pace stalkers - horses within four or five lengths of the lead at the key calls - have won five of last 10 Plates. Closers won on four occasions of the last 10, while Wando was the only runner to lead at every call. In fact, only seven horses have gone wire-to-wire in the Plate since 1956.

Other Plate facts:

* Since 1994, the average winning Beyer Speed Figure for the Plate is 99.

* Since 1994, the average Beyer of the Plate winner in his or her last Plate prep is 90.

* Two of the last seven Plate winners never ran at 2, Scatter the Gold and Awesome Again. Alleged Ruler is the only member of this year's field to debut this year.

* First-time Lasix runners won three consecutive runnings from 1994-96, beginning with the Danny Vella-trained Basqueian. The only first-time Lasix horse in this year's lineup is Night Sky, who is trained by Vella.

The logical contenders in this year's field are A Bit O'Gold, Copper Trail, and Niigon, who was a troubled second in the Trial. Those worth using in exotics, who have an outside shot to win, include Night Sky, Alleged Ruler, and Long Pond.