04/21/2010 11:00PM

Woodbine roundup

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WHO'S HOT

Favorites have won 36 of the 87 races at the meet, or 41 percent. Last year, they won at just under a 31-percent clip, one of the lowest rates in North America.

Trainer Brian Lynch and jockey Patrick Husbands teamed to go 2 for 2 during the week of April 16-18. They swept the late double last Sunday with two favorites, Platinum Exchange and Cambridge Blue.

Mike Doyle won with 2 of his 4 starters, and he sits alone in second in the trainer standings with four victories, one behind Steve Asmussen. Other trainers who scored twice during the week were Sid Attard, Nick Gonzalez, and Mike DePaulo, who each turned the trick with three starters.

Husbands was one of the riding stars of the week, clicking with 5 of his 15 mounts. Ryan Pacheco won aboard 2 of his 3 rides to lead apprentices.

Four jockeys won three races, including Chantal Sutherland, who notched her fourth stakes of the year aboard Proud Heiress in last Sunday's Grade 3 Whimsical. Sutherland's other 2010 stakes wins took place at Santa Anita.

Eurico Da Silva, who leads the jockey standings with 14 wins from 50 mounts, won on 3 of his 17 mounts last week.

TRACK TRENDS

Saturday, April 17: A rare speed bias on the Polytrack, with front-runners winning 8 of the 10 races. The only successful off-the-pace horses were Archers Alyancer and Dancin Annie. Other horses who made up some ground included Knightly Attire, Gold Strike Begins, Vicar Street, Powermouse, Closing Speed, Vegas Weekend, and Always Wildcatin'.

Sunday, April 18: Only three front-runners prevailed on a 10-race card that had an outside theme to it. Horses who showed some life while racing along the inside included Viable, Gigolette, Ring My Surprise, Dublin Lane, Church View, and Quinner's Circle.

NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

D'oro Diablo flirted with the 5 1/2-furlong Polytrack record when he crushed a field of first-level allowance types in the eighth race April 17. He made all the running and covered the distance in 1:02.75, .05 of a second off the record set by Legal Move in 2008. A 4-year-old half-brother to Grade 2 stakes winner Bickersons, D'oro Diablo earned a 91 Beyer Figure.

Sports Select nearly trumped D'Oro Diablo when he won the ninth race on the April 17 program, a 5 1/2-furlong allowance for 3-year-olds, in 1:02.91. He received an 89 Beyer, matching the number he got when he won his debut at 2 in another fast 5 1/2-furlong dash.

Tribal Belle, the 4-5 favorite in , looked to be spinning her wheels at the quarter pole before she kicked in through the stretch and lost her season debut by a nose to the much fitter Kentucky shipper Proud Heiress. Tribal Belle won the 2009 Sovereign Award as female Canadian champion sprinter.

BUG WATCH

There are 15 apprentice riders listed in Woodbine's condition book, including Omar Moreno, who won the 2009 Sovereign Award for the leading apprentice.

Aside from Moreno, three others have won at the meet: Ryan Pacheco, Brian Cheyne, and Caroline Duquet. Pacheco, a graduate of Chris McCarron's jockey school in Kentucky, has three wins, including two for trainer John MacKenzie. Cheyne scored aboard the longshot Tampa shipper Golden Tarique for trainer Norm Desouza. Duquet scored on a Bill Tharrenos-trained runner.

A promising bug who has yet to win a race at Woodbine is Betty-Jo Williams, who has caught the eye of Woodbine's Equibase chart-caller, Paul Turney.

"She looks good on a horse," Turney said. "She can sit still, and she can hit when she has to."

Several of these apprentices may continue to learn their trade this year at Fort Erie, a meet that begins May 1.

QUEEN'S PLATE TOP 10

The 151st running of the Queen's Plate, arguably Canada's most prestigious race, will be run at Woodbine on July 4. A 1 1/4-mile race restricted to Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, the Plate is worth $1 million and has been won by such standouts as Northern Dancer, Awesome Again, and Dance Smartly. My top 10 contenders for the race:

1. Hollinger: The unbeaten Queen's Plate winter book favorite has been idle since his troubled triumph Nov. 8 in the $250,800 Coronation Futurity. He has been working regularly of late at Keeneland, where he breezed five-eighths in 1:02 last Saturday.

2. Giant's Tomb: The first of two Sam-Son Farm homebreds on the list, he has five two-turn races on his resume, including a daylight score in a March 22 optional claimer at Fair Grounds.

3. D's Wando: Finished a wide, closing third in the nine-furlong Coronation and appears to be a genuine stayer. His sire, Wando, captured the Canadian Triple Crown in 2003.

4. Hotep: He disappointed in a pair of Grade 2 stakes after his Feb. 1 allowance win at the Fair Grounds. His full brother, Eye of the Leopard, got the money in last year's Plate for Sam-Son.

5. Roan Inish: This gifted, well-traveled filly wintered at the San Luis Rey training center in Southern California and is bred to be a stayer.

6. Ghost Fleet: Two-time stakes winner tailed off at the end of his juvenile campaign, although he finished a close fourth in the Coronation.

7. Embur's Song: Took her debut over about seven furlongs at Keeneland last Saturday by 13 lengths, earning a 99 Beyer. A daughter of Unbridled's Song, she is nominated for the June 13 Woodbine Oaks, but she will have to be supplemented to the Plate if her connections want to compete.

8. Stormy Lord: This speedy gelding made most of the running when second in the Coronation. He seems questionable over extended route distances.

9. Mobilizer: He was a prominent third when he made his debut in a recent maiden special route at Keeneland for Hollinger's trainer, Roger Attfield, who holds him in high regard.

10. Artic Fern: Front-runner won the much faster split of a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special April 17 at Woodbine, receiving a 90 Beyer. Son of Langfuhr is out of a full sister to the 1999 Queen's Plate winner, Woodcarver.'

HORSES TO WATCH

Mighty Fenian

Trainer: Sam DiPasquale

Last race: April 17, 3rd

Finish: 2nd by 1 1/2

Made a premature three-wide move into contention on the turn, before giving way to a classy winner in deep stretch in his first start off the bench.

Shukriya

Trainer: Mike Mattine

Last race: April 18, 3rd

Finish: 5th by 13 3/4

Returning from a five-month layoff, she was blocked behind rivals along the inside in the stretch and never got a chance to run in her first try against winners.

Gold Strike Begins

Trainer: Mike Wright Jr.

Last race: April 17, 5th

Finish: 2nd by neck

Gulfstream shipper was slammed hard at the break and then closed four wide while running greenly to finish well clear of the third horse. It was his first start as a gelding, and he shouldn't be a maiden much longer.

Prized Humour

Trainer: Darwin Banach

Last race: April 17, 5th

Finish: 3rd by 3 3/4

Like Gold Strike Begins, he made up ground over a speed-favoring track. This nicely bred Distorted Humor colt was hard-ridden in his debut and should be better for the experience.