06/23/2008 12:00AM

Training job and ride fit for a queen


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A great training job and a great ride.

Put the two together and the probable result is victory, as was the case with Not Bourbon here in Sunday's $1 million Queen's Plate.

Roger Attfield, the trainer, was registering his record-equaling eighth Queen's Plate win.

Jono Jones, the jockey, was winning his first Queen's Plate.

And each had high praise for the other - not to mention the horse himself - in the aftermath of the Queen's Plate here Monday morning.

"I can't stress enough what a fantastic job Roger did with him," said Jones, who at one time had as many as five possible Queen's Plate mounts, but had his mind made up for him once Not Bourbon got on a roll.

"I think this means more for me with this horse; we had to work hard on him," Jones said. "It was a fantastic team effort."

Not Bourbon, whom Attfield had said "was a bit of a project" from day one, did not make his first start of the season until April 12 at Woodbine, finishing second in the six-furlong Achievement.

Victories in the seven-furlong Queenston on May 3 and the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial on June 1 followed, and the colt kept up a fast and steady workout schedule over the past month.

"You have to train horses the way the horses are," said Attfield, who trains Not Bourbon for the colt's owner and breeder, Charles Fipke.

"He's just a horse that loves to train, and naturally works fast. If you try to slow a horse like that down, he's just going to be rank with the jockey in the afternoons."

The bottom line is that Not Bourbon apparently withstood the rigors of Queen's Plate trail, and the race itself, quite well.

"He ate every oat last night, and ate his breakfast this morning,"Attfield said Monday. "You don't get that very often. Horses back off their feed a little bit when they run that hard.

"He's just a tough horse. He's an out-and-out competitor. He has a lot of ability and has the desire."

The $500,000 Prince of Wales, the 1 3/16-mile race at Fort Erie that follows the Queen's Plate as the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, is logically the next step for Not Bourbon.

"He worked very well on the dirt at Payson Park," said Attfield.

Attfield also foresees the $500,000 Breeders' - the 1 1/2-mile turf race at Woodbine that is the third leg of the series - as within Not Bourbon's range.

"He came his last quarter in just a tick over 24 on Sunday," said Attfield. "I've been longing to see this horse on the turf.

"And the mile and a half, I personally don't see any problem. This horse will gallop them to death."

Attfield also holds the record for the most victories in the Prince of Wales, five, and in the Breeders', seven.

Return to Woodbine in Heros Reward's plans

Heros Reward, who has developed into one of the top turf sprinters in North America for trainer Dale Capuano, got his second major victory at Woodbine in Sunday's Grade 3, $201,600 Highlander.

Runner-up in last year's Highlander at six furlongs on turf in his first trip here last summer, Heros Reward returned to win the Grade 2, $501,200 Nearctic last fall over the same distance and surface.

"He runs well everywhere," said Capuano, who is based in Maryland. "But the turns here are wider, and he's a big horse; they probably help him."

Capuano's long-term plan is for Heros Reward to return here for the Nearctic on Oct. 4.

In the meantime, races such as the $200,000 Arlington Sprint, a 5 1/2-furlong turf race on Aug. 23, could be on Heros Reward's agenda.

The new $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, at 6 1/2-furlong race at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, also would be a logical target, with one proviso.

"He's not Breeders' Cup nominated," said Capuano. "I'm not really sure how that's going to work out."

Heros Reward, a 6-year-old gelding, raced unsuccessfully for claiming prices as low as $5,000 before moving to the turf for keeps in the fall of 2006.

The Highlander win raised Heros Reward's lifetime earnings to $737,600.

U.S. invader Mission Approved also wins

The major share of Sunday's $156,250 Singspiel Stakes also went south of the border as Mission Approved won the Grade 3 race over 1 1/2 miles of turf.

Mission Approved, owned and bred by William Coyro Jr., trained by Gary Contessa, and ridden by Ramon Dominguez, was supplemented to the Singspiel for a $3,000 fee.

Sunday handle more than $5 million

Handle from all sources on Woodbine's 11-race live program on Sunday was $5,459,862, down marginally from $5,525,917 last year.

Wagering on the Queen's Plate itself totaled $1,704,944, up from $1,672,794 in 2007.

A crowd estimated at 20,000 attended, which was a remarkable considering that a large contingent of Canadian Auto Workers members and their supporters set up pickets at all entrances to the racetrack, and long waits to enter the track were reported.

The CAW represents 100 striking security guards employed by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation at the slots casino here. The strike began June 1.

Woodbine helped alleviate the access problems by arranging for parking across the street.