05/06/2003 11:00PM

Cool Attfield barn to heat up soon


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Roger Attfield, Canada's Sovereign Award-winning trainer of 2002, has watched his stable get off to a slow start here this meeting, with two winners from its first 18 starts.

But Attfield, who is back at his home base after spending his winter at Payson Park, Fla., and stopping over for the Keeneland meeting, has most of his big shooters on the grounds now. Attfield will be looking for his first stakes win of the year here on Saturday, when he sends out Indy Lead and Malmaison in the Grade 3 Eclipse Handicap.

Indy Lead, a 5-year-old horse owned by Charles Fipke, and Malmaison, a 4-year-old colt owned by Haras Santa Maria de Araras, are among 12 entrants for the Eclipse, a 1 1/16-mile race for 4-year-olds and up.

Indy Lead, a Kentucky-bred son of A.P. Indy, began his career with trainer Bob Baffert in California and came to Attfield last September as a winner of one race in 13 starts and with less-than-stellar form.

Indy Lead came to life in his first outing here, winning a first-level allowance with a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 95, but finished well up the track in two subsequent starts at the meeting.

"He just went right off form, reverted to where he was before I got him," said Attfield, "so I gave him some time off. He's just had the two runs this year, and he's doing well at the moment."

Indy Lead's first start this spring came at Gulfstream, a third in a second-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles.

In his next outing, in the same class and at the same distance at Keeneland, Indy Lead exploded with a front-running 5 1/2-length victory that yielded a new best Beyer of 103.

Malmaison batting .500 at Woodbine

Malmaison, also Kentucky-bred, was unraced at 2 but won of four of eight starts here last year, including a classified allowance over 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 8.

Malmaison closed out his 2002 campaign with a third-place finish, beaten only three-quarters of a length, in the 1 3/4-mile Valedictory Handicap. But then he finished seventh in two turf outings at Gulfstream this winter.

"He just didn't handle the course there," said Attfield. "Sometimes the turf course there is so sandy and very loose. He got so body-sore, he was six weeks coming back from that."

Malmaison was entered in the Ben Ali at Keeneland on April 25, because Attfield was advised the race was coming up light. But then the up-and-coming handicap star Mineshaft appeared, and Malmaison was scratched.

"I didn't want to run against him," said Attfield.

He worked Malmaison five furlongs in company with Indy Lead on the training track here Monday, both going in 1:00.80.

Perfect Soul targets Dixie Handicap

Perfect Soul, another star in the making for Attfield and Fipke, was a smashing winner of a third-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Keeneland on April 13, and worked five furlongs on the training track here Wednesday in 1:00.20.

An Irish-bred 5-year-old, Perfect Soul is scheduled to run next in the Grade 2, $200,000 Dixie Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile turf race at Pimlico May 17, Preakness Day.

Perfect Soul had finished fourth in the Grade 1 Canadian International here last September, and then finished last of eight in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Arlington.

After Perfect Soul finished eighth again in his next start, the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap at Calder Dec. 7, Attfield decided to regroup.

"He just wasn't the same horse," said Attfield, "so I put him away. "When I brought him back for the race at Keeneland, he was very impressive.

"He's back on course now. He should have a big year."

B.D. Victor's 2003 debut Friday

B.D. Victor, trained by Abraham Katryan, also was nominated to the Eclipse but will make his 2003 debut in a less-demanding spot here on Friday.

A 6-year-old owned by Susan Dibari, B.D. Victor will go in a 1 1/16-mile starter allowance for horses that have raced for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in 2002-03.

The race goes as the seventh of nine on the program and offers a purse of $41,600.

B.D. Victor was claimed by his current connections for 25,000 here last June. A gelding, he went on to win for $32,000 and $57,500 tags before closing out his campaign with a fourth-place finish, beaten a length, in the Grade 3 Woodbine Slots Cup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

Although B.D. Victor won his first start of the year in two of his first three campaigns, he will have his work cut out for him going two turns here with winter-raced rivals such as Right Stop, Iwoodficould, and Wicklow Highlands.

Wando's works improve

Wando, who is pointing for the May 17 Marine Stakes, worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 under jockey Todd Kabel on the main track Wednesday.

Mike Keogh, who trains Wando for owner-breeder Gustav Schickedanz, had planned to work Wando this weekend after the colt went too slow to make the tab on Sunday.

"I got to thinking he needed to work sooner," said Keogh. "Todd was really happy with him."

* Jockey Dino Luciani will be serving a three-day suspension, Friday through Sunday, after his appeal of an earlier ruling was denied by the Thoroughbred division of the Ontario Racing Industry Board of Appeal.