09/16/2005 12:00AM

As his rivals could discover, Leroidesanimaux's name fits


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The king of animals is in the house and will be looking to impose his majesty over eight rivals in Sunday's $1 million Atto Mile here at Woodbine.

Leroidesanimaux - "the king of animals" in French - arrived here early Friday morning following an eight-hour van ride from Belmont Park. But rather than being greeted by the fanfare deserving of a horse of his stature, Leroidesanimaux checked in unheralded on a dull and very raining Friday morning.

Leroidesanimaux has won his last seven starts, including five consecutive graded stakes. Most recently, he returned from a six-month break to score a 1 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Fourstardave at Saratoga on Aug. 27. His start Sunday will be his first in Canada.

Rain was in the forecast Friday and Saturday, and could wind up being the wild card in an Atto Mile that appears to be Leroidesanimaux's race to win or lose. Neither Leroidesanimaux nor King of Happiness, another leading contender who is based with trainer Neil Drysdale in California, have run over going rated less than good.

Royal Regalia, on the other hand, won over 1 1/8 miles of yielding going last October while competing in Lone Star Park's Texas Turf on the Breeders' Cup undercard.

"Bring it on," said Justin Nixon, who trains Royal Regalia for Stronach Stable, as the rains came down here Friday morning.

Frankel will be on the grounds

Bobby Frankel, who trains Leroidesanimaux for T N T Stud, is scheduled to be here to saddle the horse for the Atto Mile.

If Leroidesanimaux were to win Sunday, the record books would show that Frankel had become the first trainer to win both the Atto Mile and the Queen's Plate in the same season. What the record would not show is that Frankel merely was loaning his name to trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., the trainer of Queen's Plate winner Wild Desert, who was in the midst of a serving a suspension for a medication violation. Frankel had no more than a passing acquaintance with Wild Desert and was not present for the Queen's Plate, but he does have stalls here for Stronach Stable. Assistant trainer Brian Lynch runs the day-to-day operation on Frankel's behalf.

Three invaders in Canadian

The Canadian Handicap, one of two Grade 2 turf features on the Atto Mile undercard, is the best wagering event on the 11-race program.

By Friday, two of the three shippers for the Canadian were on the grounds, with Natalie Beach checking in Friday morning and Shaconage checking in Thursday. Spotlight was due to arrive from New York on Saturday.

Natalie Beach, a 5-year-old who accompanied Leroidesanimaux on his trip north, is owned by Castletop Stable and trained by Jim Toner.

The Canadian will be Natalie Beach's first start since July 16, when she finished third in Delaware Park's Robert G. Dick Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on yielding going.

Laird George, an assistant trainer to Toner who is here with Natalie Beach, said Natalie Beach had been considered for the Grade 3 Glen Falls Handicap, a 1 3/8-mile turf race at Saratoga on Sept. 5.

But when it was announced that Film Maker would be prepping for upcoming Grade 1 appearances in the $100,000 Glens Falls, Natalie Beach's connections looked north to the Canadian.

George said he believes the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Canadian suits Natalie Beach better than the 1 3/8 miles, and he is far from concerned about the two-month gap between races.

"Jimmy's really good at keeping them fresh, as well as sharp," said George.

Shaconage returns to Woodbine

Shaconage, a 5-year-old owned by Andrena Van Doren and trained by Mitch Shirota, will be making her second appearance here at Woodbine.

The first appearance came Aug. 24, 2003, when she defeated fellow 3-year-old fillies in the Ontario Colleen Handicap over one mile on turf.

Shaconage was 15-1 for the Colleen, but she has consistently been competitive through her last two campaigns in the older filly and mare ranks and will be well supported for the Canadian.

This year, however, has been a hard-luck campaign for Shaconage. She finished second three times and third three times in her first six starts.

Shirota then decided to send Shaconage to the Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Turf, a 1 1/16-mile race she won as the 3-5 choice over good going Aug. 20.

"She'd been nipped right at the wire a number of times; it had been kind of heartbreaking," said Shirota. "She needed to win a race and she won pretty easily, I thought."

The Ellis Park race also served as a perfect prep for the Canadian, a race that had been high on Shirota's wish list.

"We'd planned on coming for quite a while," said Shirota. "She had some other options, but she'd won here."

Shirota also noted that Shaconage had raced last time with blinkers, which she had worn earlier in her career but not since the spring of 2004.

* Shaconage was accompanied on her trip by Salty Surprise, a 2-year-old filly who won her maiden at Ellis Park in her debut Sept. 2. The purse for that race was $14,000, and Salty Surprise, an Ontario-bred, will be running in a $62,800 first-level allowance here Sunday.

* The most puzzling shipper on the Atto Mile program is Pallister Park, who will run in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes for 2-year-olds over one mile on turf. Pallister Park was unplaced in her two starts, both main-track sprints at Mountaineer Park. Pallister Park arrived at Woodbine on Thursday night after an eight-hour van ride from his training base in Grove City, Ohio.