07/20/2004 11:00PM

All-star lineup in Grade 2 turf stakes


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sunday's Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes, a 1 3/8-mile turf race with Grade 2 status and a purse of $300,000, is shaping up as the race of the young meeting.

Heading the probable lineup, which includes virtually every top local grass horse, is Perfect Soul, Canada's male turf champion of 2003.

Perfect Soul, a 6-year-old owned and bred by Charles Fipke and trained by Roger Attfield, finished second behind Strut the Stage in last year's running of the Chinese Cultural Centre.

Strut the Stage, owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Mark Frostad, is the defending champion in the Chinese Cultural Centre and will likely make his 2004 debut in Sunday's renewal.

Shoal Water, a 4-year-old from Team Sam-Son and Frostad, also is scheduled to run in the race, following a second-place finish to Slew Valley in the 1 1/8-mile King Edward here June 19.

Also in is Slew Valley, a 7-year-old owned Jim Hindman and Alan Burkhard and trained by Reade Baker who will be seeking his third win in as many local tries. He won the 1 1/16-mile Connaught Cup in his previous start.

Mobil, a double stakes winner on turf last year at 3, also will go in the Chinese Cultural Centre, for owner-breeder Gustav Schickedanz and trainer Mike Keogh.

And trainer Michael Dickinson was planning to send both Bowman Mill and Cetewayo from his Maryland base.

Bowman Mill, a 6-year-old, and Cetewayo, a 10-year-old, both are owned and were bred by Dr. John Chandler and are no strangers to Woodbine.

Bowman Mill made three appearances here last year, sandwiching fourth-place finishes in the 1 1/2-mile Niagara and Canadian International around a win in the 1 3/8-mile Sky Classic.

Cetewayo, who would be making his seasonal debut Sunday, also ran in the 2003 Niagara, finishing seventh, and ran second in the previous year's Sky Classic.

Control Tower steps up reluctantly

A less familiar name in the Chinese Cultural Centre will be Control Tower, who has few other options locally and therefore is going to take a shot.

"That's kind of the plan we've had," said trainer Malcolm Pierce. "It's not going to be a very easy spot."

Control Tower, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old owned by Pin Oak Stable, was sent to Pierce here this spring after finishing his 2003 campaign with three straight allowance victories in the eastern United States.

In his local debut, which was also his first start since Sept. 10, Control Tower finished third, beaten five lengths, in a fourth-level allowance/optional claiming race over one mile of turf on July 1.

Royal Regalia, the 4 1/2-length winner in that race, set a course record of 1:31.84 over firm going.

"He doesn't have that kind of foot," said Pierce. "I was pleased with his race, for the layoff he was coming off. I think the farther the better, for him."

Emile Ramsammy will ride Control Tower for the first time Sunday.

Ring City returns off hot debut

Pierce also plans to be represented in Saturday's feature, with Ring City slated for the $150,000 Shady Well, a 5 1/2-furlong race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies.

Ring City showed surprising precocity in her first start, bursting between horses to prevail by three-quarters of a length in a five-furlong maiden special.

"She ran very professionally, for a first-time starter," said Pierce, who trains Ring City for Windways Farm and Quinn Stable.

While the competition figures to be stiffer in the Shady Well, Ring City certainly will bear watching.

"She wintered in Florida," said Pierce. "As soon as she came up here, she worked well right from the start. She showed she had some talent.

"She was fast," he said. "We ended up having to breeze her by herself."

Ring City is by Carson City and is the first foal out of Ring Star, who won the South Ocean here in 1998 and the Eternal Search in 1999. Both races were at 1 1/16 miles and were restricted to Ontario-sired fillies.

Purchased privately as a racing and broodmare prospect by Jeff Begg of Windways, Ring Star never got to race for her new owners and was retired following her 4-year-old campaign.

Dressed for Action back to Fort Erie

Dressed for Action, who breezed three furlongs from the gate in 36.20 seconds on the fast main track here Wednesday, is heading back to Fort Erie for Sunday's $125,000 Rainbow Connection.

The Rainbow Connection, for Ontario-sired fillies and mares, is scheduled for five furlongs on turf.

Dressed for Action, a 4-year-old owned by Shoestring Stable and trained by Tony Mattine, made her last start at Fort Erie, winning the $77,000 Matchmaker over five furlongs of good turf on June 13.

Kabul steps up off win

Kabul, who rallied strongly to win a second-level allowance over seven furlongs of turf here July 11, will be looking to repeat as she moves up in company for Friday's feature.

The $70,000 race, also over seven furlongs of turf, is a third-level allowance for fillies and mares with an $80,000 claiming option.

Twelve horses were entered, including two for the main track only.

Kabul, owned by Fieldstone Farm and trained by Jake Nemett, will have leading rider Todd Kabel in the irons as she seeks to boost her career earnings past the $400,000 mark.

* A total of $700 was raised at Tuesday's annual Woodbine volleyball tournament, which benefits the LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society.