10/07/2001 11:00PM

A Fleets Dancer firmly at the head of class


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A Fleets Dancer's emphatic five-length victory here in Sunday's Durham Cup had implications beyond the immediate occasion.

The win, which follows A Fleets Dancer's earlier success here in the Dominion Day Handicap and three subsequent stakes placings south of the border, solidified his credentials as a leading candidate for the Sovereign Award in the older male category.

And while trainer Roger Attfield is not about to get carried away, he acknowledges that he would be open to considering an engagement for A Fleets Dancer in the World Thoroughbred Championships Breeders' Cup Classic if owner Cam Allard is so inclined.

"He's doing very, very well right now," said Attfield. "I thought this race might be a bit quick back for him, but he was acting like it wasn't and obviously it wasn't. He's a very tough horse."

Attfield also believes A Fleets Dancer could perform better on the road if his prerace quirks were accepted.

"When he balks at going to the gate, they'll panic and send a load of ponies back there for him," said the trainer. "They get him all riled up."

That agitation, says Attfield, has resulted in A Fleets Dancer being too close to the pace.

"He'll come out of there a bit rank, almost," said the trainer. "His best race is when he comes from out of it; his late kick is devastating."

The only remaining stakes for the local handicap division are the Grade 3, $150,000 Autumn, a 1 1/16-mile race here Nov. 10, and the $100,000 Valedictory, a 1 3/4-mile race here closing on day, Dec. 2, in which A Fleets Dancer is the defending champion.

Both David Bell, trainer of Durham Cup runner-up Kiss a Native, and Bob Tiller, trainer of third-place finisher Win City, agreed that the best horse won but were not discouraged.

"My horse kind of fired, like he was serious," said Bell. "Nobody usually goes by him when he does that. Roger's horse just ran a huge race."

Bell did allow, however, that Kiss a Native was making just his third start of the year and may have needed Sunday's outing.

"His first start didn't count," said the trainer, "and in his second start he beat easier horses, easily."

Kiss a Native could stay in town for the Autumn but also is a possibility for the Grade 3, $100,000 Stuyvesant, a 1 1/8-mile race on Belmont Park's Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup undercard.

Win City, who was facing older horses for the first time, finished just a neck behind Kiss a Native in third place.

"I don't think anybody was going to beat that horse," said Tiller of A Fleets Dancer. "But I think we could have been second. He scoped with 50 percent mucus after the race. When I saw it, I was really surprised he ran that well."

Tiller said Win City is being treated with antibiotics and the problem should clear up within a week.

Unlikely hero for Sam-Son

It shouldn't have been much of a surprise that Sam-Son Farm sent out the winner of last Saturday's Cup and Saucer. The Sam-Son outfit had won the Cup and Saucer 12 times, including seven straight from 1984 through 1990 and the last two runnings.

But Atlantic Fury, the horse who got the job done this time around, was a very unlikely candidate. Not only was Atlantic Fury the only filly in the field of six, but she was making her first lifetime start, running as part of an entry with recent maiden turf winner First Class Honors. In fact, Atlantic Fury was being pointed to a maiden filly turf race here this Saturday before being redirected to the Cup and Saucer because of the short field and the wet weather's potential impact on upcoming turf racing.

Atlantic Fury is slated to ship out later this week to Keeneland, where she will join Hugh Chatman, assistant to trainer Mark Frostad, who already has a dozen horses there. Her next target could be the $100,000 Green River, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 2-year-old fillies there Oct. 25.

Flight delay costs Boulanger

The Cup and Saucer win also was a windfall for jockey Slade Callaghan, who had picked up the mount on Atlantic Fury midway through the program after her scheduled rider, Gary Boulanger, ran into difficulties while attempting to return from an engagement at Keeneland on Friday.

Boulanger's flight, via private jet, left Lexington in good time Saturday morning, but poor weather conditions and the stringent controls on air traffic led to its being redirected and making an unscheduled stop in Philadelphia.

"A two-hour flight turned into six hours," said the jockey, who arrived into Toronto just after 2 p.m. but already had been taken off his mounts by the stewards.

If. . .

Lady Shari, upset winner of the Grade 1 Mazarine here in her last start, worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 Monday morning and is scheduled to appear in Sunday's Polly Drummond at Delaware Park. Regular rider Constant Montpellier was aboard for the drill and has the mount Sunday.

The Polly Drummond, like the Mazarine, goes at 1 1/16 miles, and an exceptional performance there could earn Lady Shari a shot at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

"If she wins, and runs a really, really big race and comes out of it real good, it doesn't take a lot out of her, it's a possibility," said trainer Dave Cotey, who also is a co-owner of Lady Shari along with Hugh Galbraith and Derek Ball.

* Swamp Line, who finished second in the eighth race here Aug. 30, has been declared unplaced after testing positive for the prohibited substance procaine. Bobby Fisher, owner and trainer of Swamp Line, has been fined $1,500. Veterinarian Jennifer Creer also has been fined $1,500 in connection with the incident.