06/30/2010 11:00PM

Woodbine roundup

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QUEEN'S PLATE PREVIEW

The 151st running of the Queen's Plate, Canada's most famous race, will be run Sunday with Queen Elizabeth in attendance. A 1 1/4-mile event, the Queen's Plate is worth $1 million and is for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds. It has been won by such standouts as Northern Dancer, Awesome Again, and Dance Smartly.

Not surprisingly, the nine-furlong Plate Trial Stakes has been the most successful prep for the Plate over the last 12 years. The last two Trial winners, Eye of the Leopard and Not Bourbon, returned to win the Plate. Three runners-up in the Trial went on to win the Plate during the last 12 years: Niigon, Woodcarver, and Archers Bay. Edenwold parlayed a third-place finish in the 2006 Trial into a 16-1 upset in the Plate.

Six fillies have won the Plate since 1953, most recently Dancethruthedawn in 2001. Dancethruthedawn, along with her dam, Dance Smartly, and La Lorgnette are the only fillies to win the Oaks and the Plate.

Two Woodbine Oaks winners by Milwaukee Brew -- Ginger Gold and Milwaukee Appeal -- came close to winning the Plate in recent years, when there was a two-week gap between the two races. This year, there is a three-week gap.

Horses possessing speed have fared very well in the Plate since 1998. Front-runners won four times although only Wando led at every call. Stalkers won six times in the last 12 years and closers twice.

MAIN CONTENDERS

Hotep: A full brother to last year's Plate winner, Eye of the Leopard, he exited a slump taking the May 8 Wando Stakes and returned to be second to favored Exhi in the Marine Stakes. A son of A.P. Indy, he had a brilliant work last Sunday in company with two Sam-Son Farm stablemates, Giant's Tomb and Dark Cloud Dancer.

Mobilizer: Stronach Stable runner was a wide, closing second to Artic Fern on May 23 and ran gamely along the rail when second in the Plate Trial. Stronach's Awesome Again was victorious the last time Queen Elizabeth was here for the race in 1997.

Roan Inish: Gutsy filly captured the Woodbine Oaks off one seven-furlong prep and appears to have plenty of upside and stamina.

Big Red Mike: Won the Plate Trial after setting soft fractions, and he could lead the way again in a field that doesn't have another regular front-runner.

Mobthewarrior: Son of 2003 Plate Trial winner Mobil closed steadily on the outside and finished third in the Trial, easily his best performance to date.

Giant's Tomb: Awesome Again colt was hard-ridden for fourth in the Trial, and his plodding style might enable him to hit the superfecta in the big one.

Dark Cloud Dancer: Won his maiden second time out traveling seven furlongs May 16 and was subsequently a wide, closing second in a nine-furlong allowance. Storm Cat colt is out of Grade 1 winner Dancethruthedawn. Trainer Mark Frostad said he could be the rabbit Sunday.

PLATE-DAY WAGERING

Serious horseplayers should take the elastic off the bankroll on big days at Woodbine, such as the Plate card. The large pools are filled with money bet by neophytes, who rarely come to the races. Bettors don't need many hits to show a profit on the day, and big scores are possible.

The superfecta on the Plate can be a lucrative gamble. In 2006, it returned $5,861 after 16-1 outsider Edenwold outran logical favorites Sterwins and Malakoff. Late-running 19-1 shot Ascot Bill was along for fourth.

The 2005 Plate superfecta paid $1,973 when second choice Wild Desert (3-1) beat King of Jazz (5-1) and Gold Strike (7-2). Those who hit the "all" button in final position, which is never a bad idea when playing the super, were blessed when 54-1 outsider Molinaro Beau came from last to clunk up for fourth.

The late pick four pool will be a guaranteed $100,000 on Sunday.

WHO'S HOT

Trainer Abraham Katryan woke up during the week of June 23-27, winning with 3 of 7 starters. Two other trainers had three winners, Mark Casse, who led the standings at the end of the week, and Reade Baker. Other hot trainers included Wesley Ward, Paul Buttigieg, Glenn Magnusson, Nick DeToro, Bob Tiller, and Nick Gonzalez.

Eibar Coa flew in last Saturday to win on both of his mounts for the Kentucky-based Ward. Emma Wilson led all jockeys from June 23-27, scoring aboard 6 of 19 mounts. Jono Jones, who won four consecutive races last Saturday, went 5 for 18 during that time. Other hot jocks included Steve Bahen (3 for 11) and Patrick Husbands (4 for 17).

WHO'S NOT

Artic Fern would have been among the favorites for Sunday's Queen's Plate, but he wasn't 100 percent after his encouraging work last Saturday and wasn't entered.

TRACK TRENDS

Thursday, June 24: A rare speed bias on the Polytrack on this eight-race card. Front-runners won five of the races, and stalkers won two. The lone closing winner was Mountain Echo, who altered course in the stretch en route to toppling $20,000 conditioned claimers in her fourth start since May 22. Other horses who ran against the bias included King of the Swamp, Executive Bonnie, Just Enough Spice, and Roches Point.

NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

Heavily favored Final Mesa toyed with her four rivals in last Saturday's $154,500 My Dear Stakes, winning the five-furlong dash for 2-year-old fillies by 7 3/4 lengths.

Final Mesa dueled with Where Did She Go through an opening quarter in 22.36 before drawing away in the stretch to complete the distance in 57.22 seconds, which translated into a 92 Beyer Figure.

Eibar Coa rode Final Mesa for owner-trainer Wesley Ward, who collected $90,000.

"She was a little more impressive than I thought she could be," Coa said. "I never rode her before, and she showed a lot of class. She relaxed very professional. I wanted to save some horse in case somebody came to fight with her at the end, but when I asked her, she just exploded. The way she finished, no horse was going to come and beat her."

Grand Adventure ran away from favored Get Stormy in the stretch en route winning his second straight graded stakes in the one-mile, $307,100 King Edward Stakes last Sunday.

Grand Adventure pressed a moderate pace on the outside under Patrick Husbands before taking control early in the stretch. He held off a closing Rahy's Attorney in the final 70 yards prevail by a length in 1:36.40 over a soggy course labeled as good.

Grand Adventure banked $180,000 in the Grade 2 King Edward. He also won the Grade 3 Connaught Cup Stakes here May 30. He is trained by Mark Frostad and looks to be a serious prospect.

HORSES TO WATCH

Lovely Princes

Trainer: Greg de Gannes

Last race: June 23, 7th

Finish: 2nd by 1/2

Dueled along the inside through the turn and went on to prevail in the front-end battle before barely losing the war to a deep closer. Lightly raced 4-year-old shouldn't be a maiden much longer, although running back too quickly off that gut-wrenching performance might lead to a bounce.

Executive Bonnie

Trainer: Darwin Banach

Last race: June 24, 3rd

Finish: 2nd by a neck

Awaited room at the quarter pole before closing steadily over a speed-conducive Polytrack to just miss in her first appearance of the year. Daughter of top Ontario sire Bold Executive appears to have some upside.

Stay Clear

Trainer: Dave Cotey

Last race: June 26, 6th

Finish: 4th by 10

Made up some ground in the stretch on her left lead to almost get third, before galloping out in front in her second trip postward. Daughter of Dance to Destiny is bred for the turf and to run on, and should improve when the 2-year-old races stretch out.

Hippolytus

Trainer: Mike Lightner

Last race: June 27, 3rd

Finish: 3rd by 3/4

Two-year-old was rank early in his debut before rallying for third, and then galloped out far in front. Son of freshman sire Philanthropist is bred to run long on both sides of his pedigree, and could be a force in the Ontario-sired ranks this year.