Updated on 09/16/2011 9:12AM

Del Mar Show fits at distance in Atto Mile

Michael Burns
Atto Mile entrant Strut the Stage gallops over the Woodbine turf course on Friday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sharp American shippers Del Mar Show and Good Journey will hook one of Europe's top milers, Noverre, and 10 others in the sixth running of the $1 million Atto Mile on Sunday.

The Grade 1 grass race heads a sensational 11-race card, which also includes a pair of Grade 2 turf stakes, the Summer and Canadian.

Del Mar Show has won two straight, the Bernard Baruch at Saratoga and the New Hampshire Sweepstakes at Rockingham, both 1 1/8-mile graded stakes on turf. He earned a whopping 110 Beyer Figure in the Baruch under regular rider Jerry Bailey.

Leana Willaford, assistant to Bill Mott, will be listed as Del Mar Show's trainer because Mott is serving a seven-day suspension resulting from a positive drug test. Mott has plenty of admiration for the 5-year-old Del Mar Show.

"He was very game in the Bernard Baruch," said Mott. "A mile and an eighth probably stretches him to the max, but I think he can be effective at a mile. I have a lot of confidence him."

Del Mar Show won a division of the 2001 Connaught Cup Handicap over the E.P. Taylor turf course here.

Good Journey has won both of his starts this year, each over a mile on the Churchill Downs turf with Pat Day aboard. He rallied wide to take the Grade 2 Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap most recently, for which he earned a 107 Beyer.

"Pat Day was very impressed with his last two races," said trainer Wally Dollase. "[Good Journey] has gotten better as he's gotten older. The main reason he's been off since early July is that he runs best when he's fresh."

Noverre, trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin, has been second or third in all four of his races this year, all Group 1. He finished second to Rock of Gibraltar, who has won six straight Group 1 races, in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, and was recently third in the Juddmonte International at York.

"The horse is in good shape," said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford. "It's not that he's not putting his best foot forward. He's been running against really top horses."

Touch of the Blues was fourth behind Good Journey in the Firecracker. He was a troubled second most recently behind the West Coast's top miler, Special Ring, in the Wickerr Handicap at Del Mar.

Trainer Neil Drysdale believes a fast pace will aid late-running Touch of the Blues.

California-based Nuclear Debate, a closing sprinter, has never run beyond 6 1/2 furlongs. He was an impressive winner of the Grade 2 Nearctic Handicap here in June, despite checking on the turn while stuck in traffic.

Trainer Darrell Vienna looks at the Atto Mile as an experiment for Nuclear Debate.

"He has never run this far, and I'm not sure he wants to," Vienna said.

Trainer Mark Frostad has two uncoupled Sam-Son Farm runners in the field, Quiet Resolve and Strut the Stage.

Quiet Resolve was awarded first place in the 1999 Atto Mile after Hawksley Hill's disqualification. He was an unlucky third in last year's running, in which he was beaten a head after checking on the backstretch.

Strut the Stage handed Del Mar Show his last loss, in the Grade 2 Dixie Handicap at Pimlico in May. He seemed on the brink of becoming one of the top grass specialists on the continent in the spring, but has slumped in the interim.

"Both Quiet Resolve and Strut the Stage like to come from off the pace," Frostad said. "I think the pace is going to be very rapid, and the turf is going to be fast. [Quiet Resolve] has had a nice break since his last race and has trained very well. [Strut the Stage] has been running flat, but he seems to be doing well now."

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