Queen's Plate hopeful Twisted Wit turned in a smart 2004 debut, winning the $166,350 Queenston Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths at Woodbine on Saturday.Rolph Davis' Ontario-bred son of Distorted Humor , after winning his first three starts, finished fourth and sixth, respectively, to close out his 2-year-old campaign for trainer Robert Tiller.Ridden by David Clark, Twisted Wit broke sharply in the seven-furlong feature, battling outside of three rivals along the backstretch through an opening quarter-mile of :23.25. Kept wide throughout most of the one-turn event, the chestnut gelding fought on gamely, seizing control through a half-mile in :46.27, holding off A Bit O'Gold in the stretch to score the key Queen's Plate preview in 1:23.28."He ran great," said Clark, of Twisted Wit, who has had a history of acting up in the paddock and behind the gate. "Bob (trainer Tiller) has done a lot of schooling and work with this horse and he was very relaxed. The race set up perfectly for us. He's much improved at the gate."The Queenston is the second of five Queen's Plate preps at Woodbine. The Marine (May 22), the Plate Trial (June 6) and Victoria Park Stakes (June 13) are still left on the schedule. Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk, the Queenston's third-place finisher, won the Woodstock on April 24. The Plate is set for June 27 at 1 1/4 miles."We've been very lucky in this race," said Tiller, who won his fourth Queenston. "I was expecting a good race from him today. We tried to get him to relax and he ran his race. He was A-okay today."Jockey Dino Luciani, aboard the 6-5 mutuel favorite Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk, said the off-track played a part in his bay's performance. "I don't think my horse got a good hold of the track. I think he ran great though. He never gave up on me and he galloped out well."
Twisted Wit picked up $99,810 for the triumph, boosting his career earnings to $334,665.In victory, he returned $15.50, $7.40 and $3.40 across the board, combining with A Bit O'Gold ($7.60, $3.40) for a $78.20 exacta. Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk ($2.30) rounded out a $241.80 trifecta in the seven-horse field. Rockin' Again was scratched.(Chart, Equibase)