08/30/2004 11:00PM

Two Plate winners highlight morning action

Michael Burns Photo
Niigon, here winning the Queen's Plate, picked up third-place money in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga in his last.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The names Niigon and Wando, winners of the last two Queen's Plates, both appeared on a busy main-track work tab Tuesday at Woodbine.

Niigon, in his final major tune-up for Monday's $750,000 Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park, drilled six furlongs in 1:12 over the good going with regular rider Robert Landry in the irons.

Owned and bred by Chiefswood Farm and trained by Eric Coatrieux, Niigon was visiting Woodbine for the first time since winning the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate on June 27.

Niigon does the bulk of his training at the farm of his owners and was scheduled to work there Monday, but the track condition prompted Coatrieux to make the short trip south.

Niigon's last start came in Saratoga's Jim Dandy, where he finished fourth but was placed third by a disqualification.

"He's a little more keyed up ever since his last race," said Coatrieux. "He seems like he's a lot more aggressive."

Following the Jim Dandy, Niigon had been under tentative consideration for Saturday's Travers at Saratoga.

"I'm glad I didn't run him in the Travers," said Coatrieux. "This gives him a little more time between starts. Four weeks will be better for him."

Wando's workout, a three-furlong breeze in 36.80 seconds under exercise rider Louise McDonald, was his first since July 9.

"Hopefully, we're back on track with him," said Mike Keogh, who trains Wando for owner-breeder Gustav Schickedanz. "We scoped him after, and it's the best he's scoped this year."

Canada's reigning Horse of the Year, Wando last saw action here June 19, finishing fourth in the King Edward at 1 1/8 miles on yielding turf.

Wando emerged from the King Edward with a high white blood cell count but was back working early in July when he began experiencing problems with mucus in his lungs.

Keogh has set no timetable for Wando's return.

A Bit O'Gold may race Sunday in Elgin

A Bit O'Gold, who ended Niigon's Canadian Triple Crown bid by winning the July 18 Prince of Wales at Fort Erie, breezed five furlongs in 59.60 seconds under regular rider Jono Jones here Saturday and should make his next start in Sunday's Elgin.

"He did enough to tighten him up a little bit," said trainer Catherine Day Phillips, who gave A Bit O'Gold a 10-day break on the farm shortly after he won the Breeders' Stakes over 1 1/2 miles on turf here Aug. 8. "He seemed happy as a clam."

The Elgin, a 1 1/16-mile race for colts and geldings, 3 years old and up, is one of six $125,000 yearling sales stakes on Sunday's card.

"The plan right now is to go to the Elgin," said Day Phillips, who could cross-enter A Bit O'Gold in the Halton, the 1 1/8-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds and upward on the yearling sales program.

Peef has win under belt

A Bit O'Gold's Elgin opponents probably would include Peef, who worked five furlongs in 1:02.80 on the main track Monday.

Tyler Gaskin, the agent for Peef's jockey, Patrick Husbands, was deputized to ride for the drill.

Peef, owned by Arosa Farm and trained by Malcolm Pierce, finished seventh in his seasonal debut here May 14, but resurfaced with an upset in a third-level allowance/optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the main track here Aug. 8.

"We picked the optional race to get him in a little softer company," said Pierce. "He ran well to win, and that gets him on a high note in time to try this race."

Peef's absence, explained Pierce, was not by design.

"Something spooked him one morning," said Pierce. "He propped and dropped his rider. He ran loose and jumped the outside rail. He had a bit of a spill.

"But he came back and trained very well," he said. "He seems to have made a full recovery."

Archers Bow a lucky charm

Archers Bow found the range here in Sunday's $131,625 Vice Regent, becoming a stakes winner by recording a mild upset over one mile of soft turf.

Archers Bow, who races for his breeders, Susan Jane Anstey and Michael Van Every, and partner Joseph Parker, also was the first stakes winner of the year for his trainer, Mike Wright, and jockey, Ray Sabourin.

Wright acknowledges that he "got lucky" in becoming the trainer of Archers Bow, as he obtained the colt when his intended trainer, Michael Doyle, had no space to accommodate him here.

"He was a good horse from day one," said Wright, whose career highlight reel includes Scotzanna, a double-award winner as Canada's champion 3-year-old filly and outstanding sprinter in 1995.

Archers Bow raced four times at 2, picking up checks on each occasion, including a third-place finish in the restricted Frost King Stakes.

Wright redirected Archers Bow to the turf after watching him finish a distant third in his first try around two turns.

"I'd decided not to put him on grass, when the plan was to go to the Plate," said Wright. "But I knew he'd like grass - he's got big feet."

Archers Bow took to turf immediately, finishing second in the six-furlong Bold Ruckus and then graduating over seven furlongs.

After winning an off-the-turf race at a mile and 70 yards, Archers Bay returned to turf for a close fourth-place finish in another first-level allowance here Aug. 21.

"We'd been looking at the Vice Regent for a while," said Wright. "I was going to work him anyway, so I didn't mind running him eight days before.

"He's a big, strong horse. I knew he could handle it."