06/25/2005 11:00PM

Wild Desert takes Queen's Plate

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Michael Burns
Pat Valenzuela raises his whip in victory aboard Wild Desert after winning the 146th Queen's Plate at Woodbine on Sunday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Wild Desert, the mystery horse in Sunday's $1,001,600 , rallied strongly under Patrick Valenzuela to capture the 146th running of the mile and a quarter event for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds at Woodbine.

Wild Desert hadn't run since finishing far back in the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby April 16. He was subsequently transferred from trainer Ken McPeek to trainer Richard Dutrow, but won the Plate for trainer Bobby Frankel, because Dutrow is currently serving a suspension. Despite having had just two recorded workouts during his 10-week layoff, he returned just $8.30 to win after being hammered down to 5-2 at one point.

Wild Desert saved ground on the first turn, racing about five lengths off the lead, as Gold Strike dueled with Granique through fractions of :23.86 and :48.36 seconds. Gold Strike, the lone filly in the nine-horse field, opened up a clear lead after three-quarters in 1:13.98.

King of Jazz, a Kentucky shipper ridden by Rafael Bejarano, and Wild Desert both commenced a rally from mid-pack on the far turn. King of Jazz came three-wide into the stretch, while Wild Desert hugged the rail before angling into the two-path. Gold Strike bumped Wild Desert at the eighth pole, but Wild Desert kept on going and prevailed by a half-length over King of Jazz.

Gold Strike faded to finish another three and three-quarter lengths back in third, while Molinaro Beau, a maiden, closed from last to be fourth. Ablo, Granique, 2-1 favorite Dance With Ravens, Get Down and Three in the Bag completed the order of finish. Runnaway Mon was scratched. The final time was a slow 2:07.37.

"The horse broke well and he relaxed," Valenzuela said. "I found some space along the rail and followed a couple of horses. On the far turn, he started inching up on his own. I felt very comfortable at that point, and found some room for him to run. In the stretch, I angled him outside the leader, and he picked it up nicely, and then the leader drifted out a little and bumped him. He was running very well at that point, and took off and was strong through the stretch."

Wild Desert earned $600,000 for a large partnership headed by Daniel Borislow. Among the other owners are New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, and former National Hockey League player Keith Jones.

Soaring Free goes over $2 million in earnings

Soaring Free, Canada's reigning Horse of the Year, captured the Grade 3 for the second year in a row Sunday, while going over the $2 million mark in earnings.

Soaring Free ran six furlongs on the grass in 1:08.03, while scoring by two lengths under Todd Kabel. "He's just a tremendous horse, who runs hard every time," Kabel said.

Soaring Free ($2.80) and earned $134,280 of the $225,400 purse for Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad.

* There were two other supporting stakes on the Queen's Plate card. Daddy Cool ($23.40) won the $113,400 .