08/08/2002 12:00AM

El Soprano's strength is Attfield's touch


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - When it comes to winning the Breeders' Stakes, there's no better authority than trainer Roger Attfield.

Attfield has won a record seven Breeders' Stakes, including three of the last four.

His three latest wins came with fillies: Sweetest Thing in 2001, Free Vacation in 1999, and Pinafore Park in 1998. Attfield also sent out the filly Carotene to victory in the 1986 Breeders.'

But Attfield is allowed to win with a colt, too, and he did so with With Approval (1989), Izvestia (1990), and Peteski (1993), all of whom capped their sweeps of the Canadian Triple Crown with Breeders' romps.

And while Attfield sends El Soprano into Saturday's Breeders' as a far less accomplished performer than those predecessors, it will be no surprise if he is singing the colt's praises at the conclusion of the 1 1/2-mile turf feature.

El Soprano, owned by Stronach Stable, was an accomplished turf runner last year for trainer Kevin Attard, winning the Grade 2 Summer Stakes over one mile and losing by a nose in the restricted Cup and Saucer over 1 1/16 miles.

But El Soprano ended his campaign on a sour note, finishing a distant last of 10 in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity. At the end of the season he was transferred to Attfield and spent the winter in Florida.

"He'd come out of that last race last year and needed a little bit of time," said Attfield. "So we just gave him the time and started him back when he was ready."

El Soprano began wending his way home to Woodbine in April, and was in training at Keeneland just before completing his journey here toward the end of April.

The colt ran encouragingly in his 2002 bow here June 2, finishing third to some decent older runners in an allowance race, but then was a flat fourth in the Charlie Barley, a one-mile turf race won by the likely Breeders' favorite, Portcullis.

And while El Soprano again was defeated by Portcullis in the 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup, he was a good second there and may be set to turn the tables.

"The last few weeks, he's been training better than he's been training since I've had him," said Attfield. "Hopefully, he's coming to his game at the right time."

Attfield is well aware that the 1 1/2 miles of the Breeders' is uncharted territory for El Soprano, whose longest test has been the Toronto Cup. But then, no member of the Breeders' field has raced at the distance.

"I don't think the distance will be any problem to him," said Attfield. "It's much farther than he's ever gone, so we'll only find out on the day.

"But I've been training him towards the Breeders' all summer, and if he's good enough then he'll be able to do it."

Sweetest Thing in Glens Falls

Attfield said Sweetest Thing, winner of the Dance Smartly Handicap in her last start here July 6, will make her next start at Saratoga in the Aug. 26 Glens Falls Handicap. Sweetest Thing also had been under consideration for next Saturday's Beverly D. at Arlington.

The Glens Falls is a Grade 3, 1 3/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares with a purse of $100,000.

If all goes well, Sweetest Thing would then use the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor, a $750,000 turf race for fillies and mares here Sept. 29, as her final stepping-stone to the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Arlington.

Lucky Molar validates big Beyer

Lucky Molar proved the 106 Beyer Speed Figure he earned in winning a recent $32,000 claimer at Woodbine wasn't a fluke, when he captured his first stakes Wednesday night, the $136,875 Seagram Cup.

Lucky Molar held off a fast-closing Win City, the 8-5 favorite, to win by a neck, covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.51. Attest finished another length back in third in the seven-horse field, after stalking slow fractions set by Parrott Bay and Lil Personalitee.

Chantal Sutherland, whose time as an apprentice rider ended last Friday, put in a well-judged ride aboard Lucky Molar, a 7-year-old gelding.

"I'm glad I rode him last time, to get a feel for what he's like," said Sutherland. "He really opened up his stride on the backstretch, and was eating up the ground. I let him do whatever he wanted."

Lucky Molar ($11.30) earned $82,125 for owner Richard Englander and trainer Mike Wright Jr.

Mighty Quinn stalks pace, draws off

Mighty Quinn ($7) won his third Wednesday night stakes in the supporting feature on the card, the $135,125 Vice Regent.

Mighty Quinn stalked the pace while three wide on the turn in the one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds. He took the lead early in the stretch and drew off for a 2 3/4-length score over a game runner-up, Mulligan the Great. The time was 1:37.34.

"He went into the race good, and had a perfect trip," said Ray Sabourin, who rode Mighty Quinn for trainer Malcolm Pierce.

Brimo rides a Woodbine winner

Apprentice Julia Brimo rode her first Woodbine winner on Wednesday in the sixth, aboard 3-1 shot Debaji.

Brimo's other three wins this year are all at Fort Erie.

Brimo was scheduled to ride Thursday, but took off her mounts in order to save her full apprentice allowance for next year.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink