09/02/2003 11:00PM

Europeans are skipping Atto Mile this year


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Atto Mile, which has attracted some talented European invaders since being launched in 1997, will be without an overseas representative this year.

A total of 10 Europeans, including five from the stable of trainer Aidan O'Brien, were among the 44 nominees to the Grade 1 Atto Mile, a $1 million turf race for 3-year-olds and up here Sept. 14.

Up until Wednesday morning, Woodbine officials had been hopeful that Domedriver, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Mile at Arlington Park, would be the marquee name in this year's Atto Mile.

But Domedriver, who is based in France with trainer Pascal Bary, will stay home to run in Sunday's Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, which also goes at one mile.

"They seemed to want to come, but it fell apart," said John Whitson, Woodbine's vice president of Thoroughbred racing. Whitson said the lack of direct transportation from Paris to Toronto, combined with the obvious availability of the Prix du Moulin, tipped the scales.

Two Drysdale runners to ship in

As of Wednesday, the only confirmed shippers for the Atto Mile were Touch of the Blues and Sarafan, both based in California with trainer Neil Drysdale.

A solid local contingent of five runners, headed by Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando and also including Perfect Soul, Soaring Free, Chopinina, and Numerous Times, is shaping up for the race.

Wando's form got a boost Monday when Shoal Water, whom Wando defeated by 1 1/2 lengths here in the Breeders' Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on turf, came back to capture the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga.

Shoal Water, owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Mark Frostad, was a 2 1/4-length winner as the odds-on choice in the Saranac, a 1 3/16-mile turf race.

Frostad said Shoal Water might return to New York for the Grade 2, $200,000 Jamaica, a 1 1/8-mile turf race at Belmont on Sept. 21.

Soaring Free, who also races for Sam-Son and Frostad, heads into the Atto Mile seeking his sixth win in as many starts this season and his fourth straight stakes score.

Perfect Soul drills six furlongs

Perfect Soul had his final serious Atto Mile prep here Wednesday, working six furlongs in 1:16 under exercise rider Paul O'Sullivan with the dogs well out on the training track turf course.

"He doesn't have to do a whole lot," said Roger Attfield, who trains Perfect Soul for owner-breeder Charles Fipke. "He's fit enough, anyway."

Perfect Soul is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Arlington Million, a 1 1/4-mile turf race in which he was beaten just three-quarters of a length.

Hold to Ransom headed here for Canadian

Hold to Ransom, who is based in England with Edward Dunlop, is slated to be here for the Grade 2 Canadian Handicap, a $250,000 turf race for fillies and mares that is one of the supporting features on the Atto Mile program.

A 3-year-old Kentucky-bred owned by Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum, Hold to Ransom is coming off a seventh-place finish, beaten 3 3/4 lengths, as the 2-1 favorite in a Group 2 stakes over a mile on turf July 9 at Newmarket.

Dunlop is best known here as the trainer of Fraulein, who upset the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes last September. The previous year, his Cayman Sunset finished third in the Canadian but was last of 13 when her saddle slipped in the E.P. Taylor.

Connections plot Mobil's next start

Mobil, Wando's very talented but nevertheless overshadowed stablemate, won his fourth stakes of the season when defeating older rivals here in Monday's Halton, a yearling sales stakes for 3-year-olds and upward over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Mike Keogh, who trains Mobil for owner-breeder Gustav Schickedanz, has several alternatives for Mobil's next start, including Belmont's Oct. 11 Lawrence Realization and the Oct. 18 Hawthorne Derby.

Both the Lawrence Realization and Hawthorne Derby are Grade 3 turf races for 3-year-olds. The 1 1/2-mile Lawrence Realization is worth $150,000, and the 1 1/8-mile Hawthorne Derby is worth $250,000.

Mobil also could stay right here and run in the Grade 3, $150,000 Ontario Derby, a 1 1/8-mile dirt race for 3-year-olds on Oct. 13.

To date, there seems little to choose between Mobil's form on turf and dirt, although Keogh is starting to think turf might be his preference.

"When I watched him work the other day, his stride was really humongous on the grass," said Keogh. "But he seems to handle the dirt very well, too."

Gigawatt works toward Jerome

Gigawatt worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 under regular rider Patrick Husbands on the main track here Tuesday and remains on target for the Grade 2, $150,000 Jerome Handicap, a one-mile race at Belmont on Sept. 13.

A Kentucky-bred owned by Stonerside Stable and trained by Mark Casse, Gigawatt, 3, last saw action July 24 at Saratoga, finishing fourth against older rivals in a third-level allowance over 1 1/8 miles of sloppy going.