05/25/2003 11:00PM

Frostad, Sam-Son have touch in turf stakes


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Last year, Mark Frostad won eight stakes here for Sam-Son Farm, all on turf.

Six colts or geldings, all 3 or older, accounted for the eight wins, with Portcullis recording a triple. Quiet Resolve, Strut the Stage, Full of Wonder, Strike Smartly, and Sky Chariot chipped in with a victory apiece.

Some of the players have changed this year, with Quiet Resolve having been retired to Sam-Son's Ontario farm after suffering a career-ending injury last fall and Strike Smartly having been sold and sent off to stand stud in South Africa. But the game remains the same, as Sam-Son's Fly Smartly stepped into a starring role by becoming a stakes winner in last Saturday's 1 1/16-mile Connaught Cup, the first turf stakes race of the 2003 meet.

Fly Smartly, an Ontario-bred 5-year-old gelding, had started twice this year, finishing third on each occasion with his latest having come in a third-level allowance race at Keeneland. The Connaught Cup marked just his second stakes appearance.

"I was a little bit surprised," Frostad said. "But he's always been a nice horse, and he's been training like a monster this year.

"I put him in there because I thought it was a pretty wide-open race, but I was a little worried about the soft turf and the distance."

Fly Smartly had not won at a distance beyond seven furlongs, and his last two starts on yielding going had been dismal. Despite Fly Smartly's victory, Frostad still believes the gelding has stamina limitations and could run only as far as 1 1/8 miles on firm turf.

Strut the Stage nears 2003 return

Strut the Stage, who breezed five furlongs in 1:01 on the main track here Sunday, is slated to make his seasonal bow in the Grade 2 King Edward Breeders' Cup at 1 1/8 miles on turf here June 15.

Strut the Stage, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred, has not raced since winning the Grade 2 Sky Classic, a 1 3/8-mile turf race here last Oct. 27.

"He's training well," Frostad said. "He's ready to go."

Full of Wonder, winner of the Grade 1 Niagara at 1 1/2 miles, raced this spring and probably will await longer events.

Sky Chariot, a 6-year-old who worked six furlongs in 1:14.40 here Sunday, "is ready to go at any time," Frostad said.

Portcullis, a 4-year-old who emerged with the Sovereign Award in the turf male category last year, worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 here Monday and should start within a month, according to Frostad.

Shoal Water, one to watch for Sam-Son

Frostad and Sam-Son have another potential turf star in Shoal Water. In his first start, Shoal Water, an Ontario-bred 3-year-old gelding, finished second behind Mobil over 1 1/16 miles of yielding turf in the Cup and Saucer here last October. Shoal Water won a maiden race at 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track in his last start here Nov. 23.

"It looks like he'll do turf or dirt," said Frostad, "but he's probably better on turf."

Quiet Dare works seven furlongs

Quiet Dare, a Queen's Plate candidate who finished a distant last of six in the 1 1/16-mile Marine here May 17, drilled seven furlongs on the main track in 1:26 here Monday. Regular rider David Clark was aboard for the workout.

"He's always worked good," said Mac Benson, who trains Quiet Dare for the Augustin Stable of owner George Strawbridge Jr. "That last race was just a clunker. Everything seems to be okay."

Quiet Dare is nominated to Saturday's $150,000 Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds. But as of Monday Benson was leaning toward using the June 8 Victoria Park, an open race at 1 1/8 miles, as Quiet Dare's final Plate tune-up.

The $1 million Queen's Plate at 1 1/4 miles will be run June 22. Benson likes the spacing between the races.

"I like the idea of only two weeks, rather than three weeks, with this particular horse," Benson said.

Mobil, Rock Again work for Plate Trial

Mobil and Rock Again, who loom as the chief protagonists for the Plate Trial, both worked five furlongs on the main track Sunday.

Mobil, owned and bred by Gustav Schickedanz and trained by Mike Keogh, was clocked in 1:00.60 under jockey Todd Kabel.

Rock Again, owned by Stronach Stable, went in 1:00 under Sally Pierce, wife of trainer Malcolm Pierce.

Mobil would be making just his second start of the year in the Plate Trial after winning the seven-furlong Queenston here May 3.

Rock Again, who wintered in Florida, would be coming into the Trial following back-to-back wins at 1 1/16 miles, the first in a maiden special weight race at Gulfstream March 29 and the latest in an entry-level allowance race here April 26.

Kabel was aboard Rock Again for the local score but will stick with Mobil Saturday. He also has the call on Mobil's stablemate Wando, who is headed straight to the Plate after winning the Marine.

Eibar Coa is slated to come up from New York to ride Rock Again in the Trial.