06/19/2007 11:00PM

Tough to get past favored Jiggs Coz in Plate


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The last Plate Trial Stakes winner who went on the capture the Queen's Plate was Alydeed in 1992, but that historical trend may be in jeopardy Sunday at Woodbine when Jiggs Coz goes postward as the favorite in the 148th running of the $1 million Plate.

Jiggs Coz has won three consecutive stakes since trainer Sid Attard took the blinkers off after his third-place finish behind Leonnatus Anteas and Marchfield in the Nov. 5 Coronation Futurity.

Jiggs Coz was freshened after taking the 1 1/16-mile Display on Nov. 25. In his season opener in the seven-furlong Queenston, he overcame a wide trip to prevail while receiving a 95 Beyer Figure, and then won the nine-furlong Trial convincingly over Marchfield, with an 88 Beyer.

"Marchfield beat us last year, when [Jiggs Coz] had the blinkers on and was too rank," Attard said. "He relaxed very nicely with blinkers off in the Display."

Many recent Plate Trial winners subsequently performed well in the Plate, most notably Cryptocloser, Win City, Mobil, and A Bit O'Gold, who all finished second. Jiggs Coz should not be worse than second on Sunday, if he brings his "A" game.

The Plate Trial runner-ups have had a solid record in the 1 1/4-mile Plate during the past nine years, winning in 1998 (Archers Bay), 1999 (Woodcarver), and 2004 (Niigon).

Marchfield has a lot going for him. A son of classic winner and leading sire A.P. Indy, Marchfield is out of Pico Teneriffe, a graded stakes winner on turf.

Trainer Mark Casse gave Marchfield a break after he bled in a March 3 maiden race at Gulfstream, and the colt graduated with determination here in a May 6 maiden special. After mounting a wide rally in the Trial, Marchfield finished 3 1/4 lengths back. He ran one foot farther than Jiggs Coz, according to Trakus, a system that tracks horses' positions during a race.

Leonnatus Anteas, last year's unbeaten champion 2-year-old, will attempt to break some rules when he tries to capture the Plate off just one prep race, which was a narrow loss against older foes in a seven-furlong optional claimer.

Five horses since 1996 have contested the Plate after having just one prep race in the same year. All five missed the board, including Shillelagh Slew, who finished fifth last year.

Leonnatus Anteas's victory in the Coronation helped him to clinch divisional honors. The nine-furlong Coronation is considered to be the definitive stamina test for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds, but the last Coronation winner who went on to capture the Plate was Norcliffe in 1976.

New York invader Daaher, a son of 1997 Plate winner Awesome Again, should not be regarded lightly. Like his sire, Daaher is making his third career start in the Plate following a fast maiden victory at 1 1/16 miles.

Six runners since 1996 have made their third career start in the Plate, and three of them hit the board - Awesome Again; Sterwins, who was second last year; and Euchre, the third-place finisher in 1999.

Daaher is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin for Shadwell Stable, the same connections as the reigning North American Horse of the Year, Invasor, and the 2006 Belmont Stakes winner, Jazil.

The third-, fourth-, and fifth-place finishers in the Trial - Alezzandro, Cobrador, and Include Us - are all expected to be in the field.

Alezzandro led through slow fractions in the Trial while being tracked by Jiggs Coz. Like Leonnatus Anteas, Alezzandro is trained by Kevin Attard, and he could be the Plate pacemaker.

Cobrador, based at Arlington with trainer Richard Scherer, broke slowly in the Trial and was compromised by the tepid pace, as was Include Us.

Include Us is a maiden trained by Roger Attfield, who has won the Plate seven times. Maidens have fared surprisingly well in the Plate, most notably Scatter the Gold, who won the 2000 running while going from turf to dirt.

Mike Fox, a handsome son of Giant's Causeway, defeated older allowance opponents at 1 1/16 miles on May 23, in his second try for trainer Ian Black. He could hit the board as a longshot on Sunday.

The Todd Pletcher-trained Twilight Meteor is coming off a flat third-place finish in a listed grass stakes going a mile at Belmont. He won the Oct. 27 Bourbon County Stakes over Keeneland's Polytrack, but was a disappointment in his only other Polytrack outing, March 24 in the Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway.

Positive experience over a synthetic surface should be a plus in this year's Plate, which will be the first one contested on the Polytrack. Jiggs Coz has that experience, and his tactical speed and obvious ability make him the one to beat.