09/19/2004 11:00PM

BC Mile is next for Soaring Free


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The $600,000 question that faced Soaring Free here Sunday was whether he would be at his best at the distance of the , particularly when a hot pace seemed likely.

But when Soaring Free found himself with only one front-running companion, his rider, Todd Kabel, seized the day, and Soaring Free was good enough to hold sway down the long, 1,440-foot stretch of this 1 1/2-mile turf course.

"A mile is probably the absolute maximum distance he wants to go," said Mark Frostad, who trains Soaring Free for Sam-Son Farm. "Seven furlongs is his best trip."

There is no seven-furlong turf race on the Breeders' Cup program, so Frostad is pointing Soaring Free for the Oct. 30 Breeders' Cup Mile. He hopes the Lone Star Park turf course will compensate for the extra furlong.

"There should be firm turf, and with the tight turns and short stretch I think it would suit him," said Frostad.

The BC Mile would be Soaring Free's first outing in six weeks, a scenario that Frostad also appreciates. Soaring Free finished a creditable fifth in last year's BC Mile at Santa Anita after running fourth in the Keeneland Shadwell Turf Mile, which came three weeks after the Atto Mile and three weeks before the Breeders' Cup.

"I wouldn't make the mistake of running him again between the Atto Mile and the Breeders' Cup," said Frostad. "He was a little dull coming into the [BC Mile] last year. It's too much to ask, to go back in three weeks."

And, whatever transpires in Texas, Soaring Free should be back here next year to make life miserable for the locals.

"That's one nice thing about geldings," said Frostad. "They do hang around."

Soaring Free, now 5 years old, was gelded prior to the start of his 2003 campaign. In last year's Atto Mile, Soaring Free finished second, a half-length behind Touch of the Blues.

"He ran a terrific race last year, and was beaten by a world-class horse," said Frostad. "This horse is a world-class horse, too. He's more mature - he's settled down. He knows where the wire is."

Kabel soaring in the standings

The Atto Mile was yet another feather in the cap for Kabel, who is having a sensational campaign. He is virtually assured of a second straight leading rider title and Sovereign Award as outstanding rider.

"I think I'm riding a lot better than I was last year," said Kabel. "My confidence is very high right now, and people are giving me all their support. I owe a lot to my agent, John Bell."

Heading into this week's action, Kabel had won 128 races, 43 more than second-place Patrick Husbands. His stakes total stands at 29, with Emile Ramsammy next on that front with six stakes wins.

Kabel has ridden all of the 11 stakes winners sent out by Frostad, who leads his peers in that category.

Kabel spared no jubilation following his success in the Atto Mile, which he believes he would have won in 2001 aboard Quiet Resolve had he not been interfered with entering the far turn. Quiet Resolve won the 1999 Atto Mile through a disqualification, but Robert Landry was aboard then.

"I've wanted for years to win this race," said Kabel, who has competed in all eight runnings of the Atto Mile. "These races don't come by very often. Now I need to win a Canadian International and a Breeders' Cup."

Perfect Soul a bridesmaid again

For the second straight season, Perfect Soul finished strongly in the Atto Mile but couldn't get to Soaring Free.

"As far as he was out of it, with those easy fractions, I didn't think he'd be able to hit the board," said trainer Roger Attfield, who had watched Perfect Soul close stoutly to finish third last year. "He came with his usual good run, he just missed.

"But the bottom line is, he's back. As long as he comes out of this healthy, he'll finish up the year with a bang. I guarantee it."

Perfect Soul could make his next start in the Shadwell Turf Mile, the race in which he became a Grade 1 winner last year, or head straight to Lone Star for the BC Mile.

"We'll see how he trains back the next four or five days and make a decision," said Attfield.

Classic Stamp justifies confidence

Classic Stamp starred in a supporting role here Sunday, capturing the Grade 2, $327,500 Canadian Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on turf for her owner-breeder, Bill Sorokolit.

Although Classic Stamp was sent off at 10-1, her trainer, Cliff Hopmans, had been extremely confident heading into the race.

"When you work with horses over the years, you know when you have a real athlete," said Hopmans. "I've always been impressed with her. I've always thought she was a tremendously talented filly."

Classic Stamp now will set her sights on the Grade 1, $750,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares here Oct. 24.

The Canadian was a career highlight for both Hopmans and Sorokolit, who also is looking forward to the imminent debut of Classic Stamp's half-sister The Queen's Stamp. Phil England trains The Queen's Stamp, a 2-year-old filly who worked four furlongs in 48.40 seconds here Sunday.