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Thursday, June 24, 1999


Dateline: TORONTO 

The horse with the best chance at winning Sunday's Queen's Plate could be euchred at the entry box today. 

Euchre, the most talented Canadian-bred three-year-old in training, has earned less than $26,000 this year in California, ranking it 19th on the potential entry list. 

Due to a redesigning of Woodbine's racing strip in 1994, 17 horses is the limit for any competition. The horses are ranked in order of earnings. For the first time in its 140-year-old history there's a real chance that potential entrants, like Euchre, will be turned away. 

With no obvious overpowering destroyer emerging from the Plate trail, owners are scrambling to put up their money to take a shot at the $500,000 purse, and the glory. The changing cast of stakes winners this spring telegraphed that this Plate edition was wide open. 

Meanwhile , down in California, Euchre, Frank Stronach's Plate hope, loomed as a serious contender for this country's top prize after a most impressive win around two turns against a field of tough maidens at Hollywood Park. It was his second and last start. It was the same pattern that Stronach's Awesome Again showed on the way to his 1997 Plate triumph. 

Euchre's light campaign may be costly. In an oversubscription, the horses with the highest earnings are given preference. With the 19 running intentions to date, Euchre has the second lowest earnings with $25,920. And there's still the possibility of more, better-heeled runners to be entered. 

Regardless of today's outcome, Stronach will still have a potent three-horse entry for the Plate. According to farm trainer Danny Vella, there are five possibilities. The strongest, and preferred hand, would be led by Euchre. He would be joined by the fillies, Touching, and Roaring Twenties. 

"If Euchre is excluded, then Bag Lady Jane would be our third horse . . . but only if she is 100 per cent," said Vella. 

The filly raced Sunday against older males at Woodbine and stunned the crowd with an electrifying performance, winning off by 11 lengths. The time for the seven furlongs was a brilliant 1:21 2/5. 


"If she isn't 100 per cent, which she is now, we would enter Daytime Robbery as our third horse," Vella adds. "He's a stakes winner with quite a bit of money beside his name. If Bag Lady Jane bypasses the Plate, we plan to run her in the Monmouth Oaks two weeks later. 

"We're going to hook up against Silverbulletday. That's our intention." Silverbulletday is considered by many to be the best or one of the best fillies to surface in North America this decade. 

Could it be possible that the entry might be reduced to two, if that's what it takes to cut Euchre in? 

Regardless, the Stronach entry, will vie for race favouritism with Gus Schickedanz's Woodcarver. The Mike Keogh-trained runner showed he had recovered from a badly bruised foot by almost capturing the Plate Trial after experiencing a wide trip throughout. He has worked out in a super fashion since. 

Besides the fillies on the track, two other females may play a starring role in the big event. 

Trainer Catherine Day will be saddling Geraint for her grandmother, Janet Burns. The 31-year-old is a daughter of Plate-winning trainer, Jim Day. Her mother, the late Dinnie Day, was also a trainer. 

Geraint, who never finished worse than third in five career starts, is named after a lesser known member of the "Knights of the Round Table." "He's a developing colt, who is getting better each time out," said Day, who had her first stakes winner last year with Vobiscum. 

"I'm expecting him to run even better on Plate Day." 

His past form suggests he will be running on the front-end throughout. But Day says it's not necessarily so. 

"He doesn't have to run at the front. He's comfortable running of the pace just as well," she says. 

Rita Schnitzler will get another shot to become the first female to win the Plate. She had Plate runner-up Brite Adam last year. 

In 1996, she saddled Kristy Krunch to a third-place finish. 

This year, she will be sending out Lenny the Lender to try and grab the big prize. She claimed the horse for Victor Deschenes for $40,000 three starts ago. He had a first and then was the closing runner-up in the May 23 Marine Stakes. "I haven't raced him since," Schnitzler said yesterday. 

"I wanted to save his best effort for the Plate. 

"Last year, Brite Adam finished second in the Plate after he had a gorgeous win in the Plate Trial. I think he peaked early. 

"This year, I'm trying to make sure that Lenny The Lender peaks for the right race." 

Illustration: photo by Yvonne Berg, The Spectator Trainer Catherine Day keeps an eye on Geraint at Woodbine yesterday. Geraint is entered in Sunday's running of the Queen's Plate. 

Copyright 1999, The Hamilton Spectator Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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