10/30/2006 12:00AM

Attfield couldn't have planned it better


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Since Sept. 4, when Noble Stella captured the Grade 3 Glen Falls at Saratoga, trainer Roger Attfield had tried 10 times to saddle his 300th stakes winner.

But last Wednesday, when Attfield entered both Pellegrino and Eccentric in last Saturday's $100,000 Chief Bearhart here at Woodbine, it would have been hard to predict that Attfield would not only reach but surpass that milestone with those two horses.

"Sometimes things work out right, don't they?" said Attfield.

Pellegrino would have been scratched if the Chief Bearhart, a 1 1/4-mile race scheduled for turf, had not been switched to Polytrack. Eccentric shipped to Keeneland on Friday with assistant trainer Rachel Halder to run in the Grade 3, $150,000 Fayette, a 1 1/8-mile race on Polytrack.

"I'd joked with Rachel about it," said Attfield. "I said, 'I'm going for my 300th stakes win, which I'd really like to do at Woodbine, but I'm getting beaten here with 2-1 shots, and if Pellegrino doesn't pull it off, you're going to be the 300th down there.' "

Attfield, in fact, had only two losing favorites among his previous 10 stakes starters here, but he was right on the money when it came to Eccentric, who was making just his second appearance in North America after compiling a formidable record on artificial surfaces in England.

"I just couldn't see him being beaten unless he got a really bad trip," said Attfield. "He's a very, very good horse. He's had some problems, and when I got him it took me all summer to get him right."

Eccentric made his local debut Oct. 8, finishing third behind Sky Conqueror in an open allowance race over one mile on turf. Although the Chief Bearhart seemed like a favorable spot for Eccentric, Attfield said he had already planned to run him at Keeneland.

"He's proven in the past to be a superior all-weather horse," said Attfield. "We'd sort of always had it very much in mind to go to Kentucky. We needed to see whether he'd come back to his old form, and the race there was going to be a better indicator for us than the one here would have been. It was going to make a big difference to our decisions this winter on where we'd race him. Hollywood's got the all-weather track and, of course, so does Turfway."

After upsetting the Fayette under Eddie Castro, Eccentric definitely has broadened his all-weather horizons.

He could make his next start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Woodbine Slots Cup, a 1 1/16-mile race on Polytrack on Nov. 18.

Pellegrino also is a candidate for the Woodbine Slots Cup after recording his first local victory in the Chief Bearhart.

Despite being an accomplished turf performer, Pellegrino had disappointed on turf here this year, and the Chief Bearhart was his second start on Polytrack. In his Polytrack debut, he finished a distant third in the 1 1/8-mile Durham Cup on Oct. 14.

Attfield, however, said he was not surprised by Pellegrino's breakthrough under jockey Jim McAleney in the Chief Bearhart.

"He's been touting us pretty big-time in the mornings the last couple of weeks," said Attfield. "He really likes the tighter turns on this Polytrack, and on the inside turf courses, too. It's interesting. A big horse like him, you'd think he'd prefer the big turns here."

Pellegrino also is a candidate for the $125,000 Valedictory, a 1 3/4-mile race that will be run on closing day of the meeting, Dec. 10.

A 'lucky' win for Half Heaven

Half Heaven certainly had fortune on her side here in Saturday's $102,800 River Memories, which had been scheduled for one mile on turf but was run over a mile and 70 yards on Polytrack.

A 4-year-old filly owned by David Cassidy and Edward Lipton, Half Heaven finished ninth when she faced fellow New York-breds in the Ticonderoga over 1 1/8 miles on yielding turf at Belmont a week earlier.

Following the Ticonderoga, Half Heaven was shipped here to trainer Arthur Silvera to run in the River Memories, which she won at 42-1 under jockey Emile Ramsammy. Last year, Half Heaven, who had made her first 18 starts on turf for trainer Gary Contessa, had been entered in the River Memories after racing at Belmont one week earlier, but she was scratched when the race was moved to the main track. Silvera said the same scenario could have played out last Saturday if he had been able to reach Cassidy early in the afternoon.

"I couldn't get hold of him to get his approval to scratch," said Silvera. "So, I thought I should go ahead and run her."

The victory was even more fortuitous because Half Heaven is slated to sell in Kentucky next Sunday.

"She kind of came up here to try to add some black type to her line, and ended up getting her first stakes win," said Silvera.

Grandy's Glory gets act together

Grandy's Glory also became a stakes winner here last Saturday, capturing the $150,000 Fanfreluche for Ontario-foaled 2-year-old fillies.

A six-furlong race, the Fanfreluche was the fifth start for Grandy's Glory, a homebred who races for Ben Hutzel.

"She always showed me some talent, but she's been acting stupid behind the gate," said trainer Mike DePaulo. "It's amazing, because she's like a pony in her stall and in the paddock."

Although she wasn't perfect before the start of the Fanfreluche, Grandy's Glory behaved well enough during the race, rallying from just off the pace under jockey Steven Bahen.

She is nominated to the $125,000 South Ocean, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies on Nov. 8.

"I always thought she would stretch out," said DePaulo. "She's a big, long-legged filly. It depends on her, as long as she settles and relaxes a little bit."