10/06/2005 11:00PM

Attfield duo try to regain good form

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Roger Attfield-trained uncoupled entry of Palladio and Ablo will both run in Sunday's $164,550 Ontario Derby, a nine-furlong race for 3-year-olds at Woodbine.

Palladio, a leading candidate for this year's Sovereign Award as champion 3-year-old, captured the Grade 2 Ohio Derby in July under a strong ride from Richard Dos Ramos. He failed to duplicate that performance in his two most recent races, finishing a well-beaten fifth in the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth, and seventh on the turf in the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga.

Attfield said he felt circumstances didn't go Palladio's way in the $1 million Haskell.

"He got bogged down on the inside," Attfield said. "It rained just before the race and the track looked all right, but he couldn't open his eyes afterwards, because they were full of mud. When we scoped him, he was full of mud. It was a really bad experience for him, which is why I ran him on the grass, and he got a bad ride in that race."

Ablo won the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown in July, the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie. He finished far up the track in his next outing in the West Virginia Derby, and subsequently ran third of four runners here in the Elgin Stakes.

Attfield said Ablo got worked up in the paddock prior to the restricted Elgin.

"He probably ran his race, but I would have liked to have seen him 'saddle' better than he did."

Attfield expects good races from Palladio and Ablo on Sunday.

"I freshened both of them up, and they've both been training really well," he said.

Ever So Free is also in the eight-horse field, along with American shippers Devilment and Gold and Roses.

Ever So Free won his first two starts, going short and long, in July. He met older runners in the Sept. 4 Elgin, and stalked front-running Barbeau Ruckus on the outside before ending up a good second to that imposing rival.

"I think the slow pace hurt him last time," said trainer Abraham Katryan. "Barbeau Ruckus got the jump on him, and they all sprinted home. It was against older horses, and he's back in with his own kind now. It should set up better for him this time."

Devilment took the Round Table Stakes with a 100 Beyer Figure at Arlington in July before finishing 20 lengths back in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby.

Gold and Roses was competitive against New York-bred stakes opposition during the summer.