09/04/2003 12:00AM

Experience edge to America America


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - It's certainly unusual in the first weekend in September to see a 2-year-old filly making her 10th start, let alone competing in her fourth different country.

But that's the story of America America, a Kentucky-bred trained by Frank Mourier who is shipping into Woodbine from Saratoga for Saturday's Natalma Stakes.

America America began her career at Gulfstream in April, winning first crack out over three furlongs, then finishing second in the Mockingbird Stakes at the same distance.

But America America's career got interesting later in the spring, as she journeyed to England and made six starts there, plus one in Germany, before returning to the United States less than two weeks ago.

Mourier's reasons for America America's trip to Europe were two-fold.

"First, there is the challenge," Mourier, 34, who trained in his homeland of France for three years before relocating to Florida in 1997.

"Second, because there is more opportunity [in Europe] for 2-year-olds in the summer, so they can get experience. Especially when they broke their maiden so early, you don't have a lot of races in America to run them."

America America certainly made the most of her time in Europe, which began with an eighth-place finish in the Grade 3 Queen Mary over six furlongs at Ascot June 18 and ended with a second in the Stonehenge, when she met males over a mile at Salisbury Aug. 13.

The filly also finished second on three occasions, two of those coming against males, and was third and fifth in her other outings.

"She's a consistent filly," said Mourier. "She enjoys racing and she tries hard every time.

"But she was a little bit unlucky; she got beat in a photo finish a few times, and also sometimes she found Grade 1 horses against her."

America America was entered in Saratoga's Grade 1 Spinaway on Aug. 29, but was scratched on the morning of the race.

"Since then, she's been pointing to go to Woodbine," said Mourier. "Obviously, we think she's got a very good chance."

Mourier also will be making a couple of changes, which he believes will benefit America America. She will race with Lasix and with blinkers for the first time.

"She's become very, very relaxed during her races, and I don't want her too far back," said the trainer.

Olivier Peslier, the high-profile French rider, will be here to ride America America.

Peslier's main purpose in coming to North America this weekend is to ride Acago in Belmont's Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap.

First Quarter to go in Atto - or Canadian

First Quarter, who worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 on the main track Thursday morning, is slated to make her next start in a stakes race here Sept. 14.

But whether that appearance will be in the Atto Mile or the Canadian Handicap is up in the air, according to First Quarter's trainer, Jim Day.

The Atto Mile is a Grade 1 turf race offering a purse of $1 million. The Canadian, restricted to fillies and mares, is a Grade 2 turf race over 1 1/8 miles and is worth $250,000.

"We're chewing about the Atto Mile," said Day, who trains First Quarter for the Come By Chance Stable of his mother, Edna Arrow. "Our back-up plan is the Canadian."

First Quarter, a 4-year-old, is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Belle Geste Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for Canadian-bred fillies and mares.

"I wasn't overly impressed with her last race," said Day. "There ended up being a pretty lethargic pace and she was held aggressively off the pace for the first half-mile or five-eighths of a mile. When the racing got going, it was too late."

That outing was First Quarter's first since July 5, when she finished second, beaten a nose, in the Grade 3 Dance Smartly, also over a 1 1/8 miles on the grass.

"Maybe she needed the race a little bit," said Day, "but she's been doing well since then.

"She's had a tricky ankle basically all year, and that hasn't helped her cause. I've been training her fairly gently."

If First Quarter does go in the Atto Mile she might become the second filly in the field. Chopinina, trained here by Alec Fehr and runner-up in last year's Atto, is scheduled for a return engagement in that race.

Other locally based Atto Mile hopefuls include: Numerous Times, winner of the 2001 renewal; Perfect Soul, who is coming off a close fifth-place finish in the Arlington Million; Soaring Free, undefeated in five 2003 starts; Wake at Noon, Canada's reigning horse of the year and champion sprinter; and Wando, winner of Canada's 2003 Triple Crown.

* Pattison Outdoor Advertising, the new sponsor of Woodbine's Canadian International, is Canada's largest supplier of outdoor advertising displays.

As is the case with sponsors of other Woodbine races, Pattison will not contribute to the Canadian International purse of $1.5 million (Canadian).

Glenn Crouter, Woodbine's vice president of media and community relations, said the sponsorship is primarily a marketing agreement, which includes funding such items as a new logo.

"Part of the sponsorship money goes to that," said Crouter, "but for the most part, it goes into advertising the event."