06/25/2006 11:00PM

Two favorites from New York get mixed results in Plate


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sterwins and Wanna Runner, who had both shipped up last week from Belmont, checked out Monday morning after contrasting displays here in Sunday's Queen's Plate.

Sterwins, making just his third career start, battled gamely to take home $200,000 for his second-place finish, beaten three-quarters of a length as the 4-1 second choice.

Wanna Runner, who was seeking his third straight stakes success, faltered as the 3-2 favorite and finished 10th, beaten 31 1/4 lengths.

"We thought Sterwins ran a huge race," said Todd Pletcher, the gelding's trainer. "For only his third lifetime start, we were very pleased with his effort."

Sterwins is a strong possibility for Fort Erie's $500,000 Prince of Wales at 1 3/16 miles, the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown on July 16.

"That would be the plan right now, assuming that he comes back well and trains well between now and then," said Pletcher.

Wanna Runner, meanwhile, underwent a thorough examination at his New York base on Monday. Trainer Bob Baffert, who remained mystified by Wanna Runner's Queen's Plate performance, would not rule out a return trip for the Prince of Wales.

"We went all over him, and he was fine," said Baffert. "He was just flat and dull on Sunday; he just didn't run. I really expected him to win the race."

Wanna Runner had been flown from California to Belmont on June 7 and checked into Woodbine on June 15.

A big-race surveillance policy introduced by Woodbine for the Queen's Plate had required all prospective entrants to be on the grounds by 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 20, 48 hours before the entry deadline.

"I think I shipped him too early," said Baffert. "And I was going to work him there. I didn't work him, because the track was sealed the day I was going to work him and it was going to be too hard. I should have kept him at Belmont a few more days and worked him there."

Queen's Plate contestants Malakoff (third), Ascot Bill (fourth), Shillelagh Slew (fifth), and Pipers Thunder (sixth) also will be considered for the Prince of Wales.

Malakoff was beaten 4 3/4 lengths after coming into the Queen's Plate off a 7 1/4-length win in the Grade 3 Marine here May 20.

"He might have come up a little bit short," said trainer Brian Lynch. "He lost a little time with a virus and missed a work."

Ascot Bill closed to finish fourth, a nose behind Malakoff.

"At the top of the stretch, I thought we'd be third for sure," said trainer Steve Attard. "He impressed me. I wanted him to make it seem as if he belonged, and now we do."

Attard is even looking ahead to the $500,000 Breeders', the 1 1/2-mile turf race that will be the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown here Aug. 6.

"Eventually, he has to have enough ground," said Attard. "A mile and a half on grass should hit him right between the eyes."

Shillelagh Slew, trained by Mike DePaulo, was beaten 5 1/4 lengths while making his second start of the year and his first in eight weeks. In his season debut, he won a seven-furlong allowance here April 29.

DePaulo said he had decided to train up to the Plate after a virus compromised Shillelagh Slew's schedule.

"He came up a little short," said DePaulo. "He just got tired down the lane. I have to think if he didn't get sick, he'd have been a little closer."

Pipers Thunder, who had won the Plate Trial while making his third career start, was back on his home base at Chiefswood Farm by late Sunday evening after failing to seriously threaten in the Queen's Plate under rider Ray Sabourin.

"He didn't run as good as I expected," said trainer Eric Coatrieux. "It was a weird race. There was lots of speed early, and it looked like it was setting up great for us. Ray seemed to think he didn't handle the track."