05/08/2007 11:00PM

Twilight Meteor still targeting Plate


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Twilight Meteor, a stakes winner over Keeneland's Polytrack surface last fall, remains on target for an appearance in the $1 million Queen's Plate here at Woodbine on June 24.

Todd Pletcher, who trains Twilight Meteor for Peachtree Stable, said the colt is not scheduled to race at Woodbine prior to the Queen's Plate.

"The most likely scenario for him would be the Straight Deal, at Belmont on May 19," said Pletcher.

The $65,000 Straight Deal is an overnight stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile on turf.

Twilight Meteor ran well on turf in his first three starts at 2 before winning the off-the-turf Bourbon County at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack at Keeneland on Oct. 27.

After recording a second straight stakes score in Gulfstream's Hallandale Beach at 1 1/16 miles on turf, Twilight Meteor was sent off as the favorite in Turfway's Grade 2 Lane's End at 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack but finished sixth.

Twilight Meteor would be the fourth Queen's Plate contestant for Pletcher, whose first attempt was successful courtesy of Archers Bay in 1998. Pletcher's other Queen's Plate entrants were Pete's Sake, 16th in 2000; Lodge Hill, sixth in 2000; and Sterwins, second last year.

Pletcher has two aiming for Oaks

Pletcher also plans to be represented in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, with Belleplaine and Christies Treasure both under consideration for the 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies on June 10.

Belleplaine, owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk, faltered in her seven-furlong debut at Gulfstream on Jan. 14 but has since recorded impressive back-to-back victories in Maryland.

On April 11, in her first try around two turns, Belleplaine took charge midway through a 1 1/8-mile maiden special and went on to score by 14 1/2 lengths, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 75.

Three weeks later, in a 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance at Pimlico, Belleplaine was an 11 1/4-length winner and again was awarded a 75 Beyer for what is scheduled to be her final pre-Oaks performance.

"She'll train straight to the race," said Pletcher.

Christies Treasure, owned by Elisabeth Alexander, has made all five of her starts on turf, finishing first twice and second twice. Her latest start was a victory in a first-level allowance race at Keeneland.

Although Christies Treasure is nominated to the Grade 3 Selene, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies here May 20, Pletcher is ruling out that option.

"She'll maybe run next in a turf allowance race at Churchill Downs," said Pletcher, who would then make a decision on whether to take her to the Woodbine Oaks.

Marco Be Good makes '07 debut

Saturday's $125,000 New Providence has drawn a competitive field of Ontario-sired older horses, and one entrant with upset potential is Marco Be Good.

A 5-year-old gelding who is owned by Terra Farm, Marco Be Good will make his seasonal debut in the six-furlong New Providence.

"I actually wanted to pinpoint him for this race," said Ross. "He runs good fresh. And six furlongs, that's his game right there."

Marco Be Good's most recent drills came at six furlongs on the training track and yielded clockings of 1:12.60 on May 2 and 1:12.20 on April 22.

"He was running late last year," said Ross, noting that Marco Be Good had made his last start of 2006 on Dec. 6. "I think I've got enough fitness under him to go out there and get it done."

Turf course not ready for action

The first scheduled turf race of the season, Sunday's $87,900 prep for the Connaught Cup, will be moved to the main track and run at one mile and 70 yards.

"It just wasn't ready," said Steve Lym, Woodbine's racing secretary, of the turf course. "With the bad weather, we just couldn't get out to do some of the things we needed to do. It should be ready for Friday."

The Grade 3, $150,000 Connaught Cup, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 4-year-olds and upward, will be run here May 27.

High Act pulls muscle, out of Marine

High Act, a Queen's Plate hopeful trained by Brian Lynch for Stronach Stable, has hit a bump on the road but still should be ready for the big dance.

"He won't make the Marine," said Lynch, who had planned to use that Grade 3, $250,000 race at 1 1/16 miles here May 19 as one of High Act's stepping-stones to the June 24 Queen's Plate. "I just had a little setback with him, nothing serious. He pulled a muscle. I'm just playing it by ear right now - I hope to get an a-other-than into him by the end of the month."

High Act, who finished second in his six-furlong debut here last November, went on to win his maiden at Calder and to finish fourth in a pair of solid entry-level allowance races at Gulfstream.

Both of those efforts came at 1 1/8 miles, the most recent on March 3.

Royal Challenger to return soon

Lynch also is looking forward to the return of Royal Challenger, who is slated to make his seasonal bow for Stronach Stable in the May 19 Eclipse.

The $150,000 Eclipse is a 1 1/16-mile race for 4-year-olds and upward.

"He's ready to run," said Lynch. "If I could have run him earlier, I would have. I had him in the prep, but it didn't fill."

Royal Challenger became a stakes winner here last summer in the Breeders', the 1 1/2-mile turf race that is the final leg of the Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

The colt also ran well on Polytrack, winding up his campaign with a second-place finish behind eventual divisional champion Shillelagh Slew in the Grade 3 Ontario Derby at 1 1/8 miles.