06/12/2001 11:00PM

Queen's Plate hopefuls work out


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The countdown to the $1 million Queen's Plate has begun in earnest, and three candidates for the June 24 showpiece for 3-year-old Canadian-breds tuned up here Wednesday morning.

Millennium Allstar, Highland Legacy, and Dawn Watcher all worked five furlongs over a fast main track with Millennium Allstar's 59.80-second clocking the fastest of 24 works at the distance.

"He worked great, I thought, and he did it the right way," said jockey Robert Landry, who has ridden Millennium Allstar in all seven of his career starts. "I'm really happy with him. It was a stamina work, more than anything, and he finished up his last part real good."

Millennium Allstar, who is owned by Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Curtis Joseph, player agent Don Meehan, and trainer Sue Leslie, has had a habit of waiting on horses.

His recent works have been designed to address that concern, and Leslie had two stablemates break off well in front of Millennium Allstar during Wednesday's exercise.

"He had to put out to get to them, and that's what we wanted," said Leslie, adding that Millennium Allstar had finished in front of his workmates. "It was a real tightener for him."

Millennium Allstar, second behind Win City in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial last time out, is scheduled to breeze once more before the 1 1/4-mile Plate.

Highland Legacy, who was Canada's 2-year-old champion but has yet to put his best foot forward in his two starts this season, went in 1:01.20.

Gary Boulanger, who is committed to Sam-Son Farm filly Dancethruthedawn in the Plate, made a guest appearance aboard Highland Legacy for the move. Emile Ramsammy has been the gelding's regular rider but has not been confirmed as his Plate partner.

"I was very happy with his breeze, and he came out in good order," said Steve Owens, who trains Highland Legacy for the Empress Stable of his wife, Beverley, and mother-in-law Mildred Lewis.

"He's still considered a Plate candidate, but a lot will depend on how he trains up to the race. I don't want to be in the race just to be in the race; I want to be a contender."

Owens did allow that the prospect of an off track would greatly increase the chances of Highland Legacy's Plate participation.

"I know he loves the mud," said the trainer.

Owens also believes Highland Legacy may have been reacting adversely to Lasix and the gelding worked without the medication Wednesday.

"We scoped him this morning, and everything was fine," said the trainer, noting that Highland Legacy had been placed on the Lasix program last July and made his last six starts with the medication.

"His next race will definitely be without Lasix."

Dawn Watcher was timed in 1:02.60 under jockey Richard Dos Ramos, who has picked up the mount for the Plate.

"He never works quick, this horse," said Cliff Hopmans, who trains Dawn Watcher for D. Morgan Firestone. "It was just average for him. It was just a maintenance work, and we'll have another one before he runs."

A Numerous gelding, Dawn Watcher will be making his stakes debut off a third-place finish in a 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance here June 1. He was beaten 6 3/4 lengths in that race by Kentucky-bred Dream Launcher, who returned last Saturday to win the Victoria Park.

"He showed he didn't have to be on the lead," said Hopmans, who had sent out Dawn Watcher to win his maiden after dueling throughout a sloppy 1 1/16 miles in his previous start.

"We're hoping in the Plate there'll be lots of pace up front, and he can sit back and pass as many tiring horses as possible."

Brushing Bully, who is Plate-bound for Stronach Stables Inc. and trainer Tino Attard, worked seven furlongs on a "good" main track in 1:30.20 Tuesday morning.

David Clark was aboard for the drill and has the call for the Plate.

"Everything looks good, so far," said Attard, who is planning one more Plate tuneup for Brushing Bully, who is coming off a third-place finish in the Plate Trial.

* Hilary M. Weston, who is the Lieutenant Governor of the province of Ontario, will be making her third consecutive appearance as the royal representative at this year's Plate.

Post time for the Queen's Plate, which will be the ninth of 11 races on the card, has been set at 5:08 p.m.

First post for Plate Day will be 12:25 p.m., a half-hour earlier than the regular Sunday starting time.

* Saturday's Victoria, the first stakes of the meeting for 2-year-olds, will be featured on Woodbine Post Time on Sportsnet, which will air nationally in a two-hour telecast beginning at 3 p.m.