05/27/2001 11:00PM

Win City latest hope for DiGiulio


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Winning a Queen's Plate had been a recurring dream for the father-and-son team of owners Frank DiGiulio Sr. and Frank DiGiulio Jr., longtime players in the local racing game.

But last Saturday DiGiulio Sr. died at home at age 91, leaving his son to cheer on Win City in his quest for the $1 million Queen's Plate here June 24.

"The fact that this horse acts like a legitimate contender, and he won't be here to see it, is very saddening for us," said Bob Tiller, who has trained for the senior DiGiulio since he became an owner in 1981.

"I've had a great personal relationship with him and his family," Tiller continued. "It's also been a great learning experience for me. In business, and in life, I thought he was a wonderful teacher."

Frank Jr. joined his father as a partner in 1985, and they had their first major success with Domasca Dan, who was claimed for $32,000 as a 2-year-old and went on to earn almost $600,000.

The DiGiulios had their first taste of Canadian Triple Crown action with Domasca Dan in 1989, as the gritty colt finished a solid third in the Plate and then was beaten just a head as the second-place finisher in the Prince of Wales, both races won by the subsequent Canadian Horse of the Year, With Approval.

Domasca Dan also finished third here in the Molson Million and later traveled to Belmont and was a three-length winner of the Grade 2 Jamaica.

The DiGiulios were part of another rags-to-riches story with Elated Guy, whom they claimed for $40,000 as a 2-year-old and retired eight years later with earnings of $960,000. While Elated Guy won five stakes his finest hour might have come in the 1992 Molson Million, where he was beaten just a half-length by Benburb and finished ahead of stars such as A.P. Indy and Alydeed.

The DiGiulios also campaigned homebred stakes winners Dan's My Pal and Domasca Bella, both sired by Domasca Dan, and owned stakes winners including Urban Distraction and Ahead by a Century.

And now comes Win City, a son of Slew City Slew and a Domasca Dan mare, Winsfordan. Win City is coming off back-to-back wins here in the Queenston and Marine and is a candidate for Saturday's Plate Trial.

A funeral service for DiGiulio will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at All Saints Catholic Church, 1415 Royal York Road, Toronto. Visitation was to be held Tuesday from 2-4 p.m. and from 7-9 p.m. at Delmoro Funeral Home, 61 Beverly Hills Drive.

Highland Legacy breezes five

Win City was one of several Queen's Plate hopefuls to work over the "fast" main track here last Sunday, breezing five furlongs in 1:03.

Highland Legacy, trained by Steve Owens for Empress Stable, tuned up for the 1 1/8 mile Trial with five furlongs in 1:01.20 under exercise rider Jeff Murphy.

"He finished up real good, and came back healthy," said Owens, who also will send out Legal Heir for Empress in the Trial.

Regular rider Emile Ramsammy will be aboard Highland Legacy, who was Canada's champion 2-year-old, while Gary Boulanger picks up the mount on Legal Heir.

Millennium Allstar, also Trial-bound, worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 under regular partner Robert Landry.

"I put some of my other horses out there, and kind of spotted them so he'd have horses to run with during different parts of the work," said Sue Leslie, who trains Achievement winner Millennium Allstar."

A pair of Plate Trial nominees who also are eligible for a 1 1/16 mile maiden race scheduled for this Sunday drilled six furlongs, with Lucky Scarab going five furlongs in 1:02 and Lucky Devil six furlongs in 1:15.40.

Lucky Scarab is owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Mark Frostad, who teamed up to win last year's Plate with maiden Scatter the Gold.

Lucky Devil is owned by Stronach Stables Inc. and trained by Tino Attard, the same connections who plan to contest the Trial with Brushing Bully.

With jockey David Clark in the irons, Brushing Bully worked seven furlongs in 1:28.60 over a "good" main track last Saturday. The colt has seen action just once this season, finishing a faltering sixth in a 1 1/16 mile allowance for 3-year-olds and upward.

"He's coming around good," said Attard. "He had a cough after his first race, but it wasn't that bad."

* Attard also is pointing Go for Champagne and Kisbey, both owned by Stronach Stables Inc., for the June 9 Labatt Woodbine Oaks. Go for Champagne worked seven furlongs in 1:28 on the main track Sunday under jockey Patrick Husbands.