08/21/2001 11:00PM

Dawson's Legacy not ready for the farm just yet


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Dawson's Legacy has been written off in the past, only to jump up and bite his detractors.

And that's a fact worth remembering when Dawson's Legacy, now 6 years old and winless in his last 15 outings, runs here in Saturday's Play the King Handicap.

It was the 1999 edition of the Play the King, a seven-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds and up, that marked the occasion of Dawson's Legacy's last resurrection.

Owned throughout his career by Josef Stritzl, the gelding was Canada's champion 2-year-old male after finishing second in the 1997 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but had not come close in two subsequent stakes races and had been beaten a combined total of 36 lengths in his first three starts of 1999.

Despite those apparent shortcomings, Dawson's Legacy won the Play the King at 22-1. And four weeks later he successfully stretched out to 1 3/8 miles on the E.P. Taylor turf course, leaving reigning Eclipse Award turf champ Buck's Boy and subsequent Canadian Horse of the Year Thornfield in his wake here in the Sky Classic.

Dawson's Legacy, who made the first seven starts of his career for trainer Rita Schnitzler and his next nine for Norm McKnight, was with Patrick Byrne for his first three outings of 2000 before being transferred to Mike Doyle last summer.

He debuted for Doyle in a division of last year's Play the King, ending fifth, and although he later finished a bang-up second in top allowance company, Dawson's Legacy closed out his season on a down note.

But after kicking off his current campaign with an even effort on the main track, Dawson's Legacy has recorded back-to-back second-place finishes in turf allowances at a mile and seven furlongs, the latter race being the Play the King prep.

"We decided to give him the winter off, and it really seemed to help," said Doyle. "He's never been really sound, but this year he's probably as sound as he's ever been."

Doyle points to another possible contributing factor in Dawson's Legacy's resurgence.

"We took him off Lasix," said the trainer. "We monitored him in a few of his breezes, and he never tried to bleed. The consensus was that maybe it had dulled him a little bit.

"His last two races have been great. In that last allowance race he ran into Numerous Times, and that horse could be as good as anything around here."

Numerous Times, undefeated through five lifetime starts, passed on the Play the King and is headed for the Grade 1 Atto Mile, a $1 million turf race here Sept. 9.

The education of Soundtrack

Doyle also is looking forward to Sunday's $100,000 Ontario Colleen, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies, in which he will send Soundtrack to the post for her owner and breeder John Storer.

Soundtrack will be making her eighth start, all on turf. Bred in Ontario, she began her career at Fair Grounds this past winter, showing steady improvement through three races.

"She was very slow picking things up," said Doyle, "but she always acted like she had some talent."

Soundtrack continued on her learning curve here, finishing second and third as the favorite in a pair of maiden special weight races, first over 1 1/8 miles and then over 1 1/4 miles.

"It looked like she couldn't lose the mile and a quarter race," said Doyle, "but she was up really close, and couldn't really finish. She runs better when she's way out of it."

Soundtrack has proven Doyle's point in her last two starts, coming from the clouds in two one-mile races to win her maiden and her first allowance condition.

"She's in fantastic shape," said Doyle. "Her last two races have been just awesome. I'm looking for a big race from her."

Soundtrack's rivals in the Colleen will include Poetically, Canada's champion 2-year-old filly, who will be trying turf for the first time while seeking her first win of the season.

Poetically worked four furlongs in 48.40 seconds under regular rider David Clark on the fast training track here Wednesday morning.

"We didn't do very much with her," said Roger Attfield, who trains Poetically for the Kinghaven Farm of David Willmot. "She doesn't need to do very much; she's in good shape."

Attfield pair ready for stakes

Sweetest Thing and Free Vacation, both owned by Attfield in partnership with Bill Werner and Mickey Canino, both worked five furlongs on the training track.

In her first drill since defeating males in the Breeders', Sweetest Thing was clocked in 1:00.80 under regular rider Jim McAleney.

Sweetest Thing is nominated to the Halton, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward that is one of six $100,000 yearling sales stakes here Sept. 3.

Attfield said he may run her in the Halton, but is pointing her to the $250,000 Wonder Where, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies here Sept. 29.

Free Vacation, who won the Wonder Where en route to being voted Canada's champion turf female in 1999, breezed in 1:01 and is heading for the Sept. 1 Flaming Page, a 1 1/2-mile turf race which she won last year.