07/22/2003 12:00AM

Keen turf rivalry may end as a 1-1 draw

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - While Wando was strutting his stuff down at Fort Erie last Sunday, the spotlight here at Woodbine was on the matchup between the 5-year-old turf specialists Strut the Stage and Perfect Soul in the Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes.

Perfect Soul, an Irish-bred owned by Charles Fipke and trained by Roger Attfield, prevailed in round one of the rivalry, leaving Strut the Stage 2 1/2 lengths back in second in the King Edward Breeders' Cup over 1 1/8 miles here June 15.

Strut the Stage, a Kentucky-bred owned by Sam-Son Farm and conditioned by Mark Frostad, evened the score by defeating runner-up Perfect Soul by 1 1/2 lengths in the 1 3/8-mile Chinese Cultural Centre.

"Strut the Stage and Perfect Soul are two really good horses," said Frostad. "We got the best of him this time."

Strut the Stage, who was ridden by Todd Kabel, was making his first appearance since last October in the King Edward, whereas Perfect Soul already had run once at Keeneland and once at Pimlico this spring.

"That start helped him a lot," said Frostad. "He needed the race."

Attfield voiced respect for his Chinese Cultural Centre conqueror, and had no complaints over Perfect Soul's performance.

"He ran a good race; he just got beat by a very good horse," said Attfield. "The pace was a little soft; he gets a little rank when it's like that. When he went to the lead, Todd had dead aim on him and ran him down."

There is no immediate prospect of a rubber match between Strut the Stage and Perfect Soul.

Strut the Stage could go to the Aug. 16 Arlington Million, a 1 1/4-mile turf race, or await the next local turf stakes, the 1 1/2-mile Niagara Handicap.

"He'll go anywhere from a mile and an eighth to a mile and a half," said Frostad. "But he's not a very big horse, and there are other races for him later on."

Attfield, meanwhile, had been seriously looking toward the Arlington Million for Perfect Soul but is reevaluating the situation.

"I'm still not 100 percent convinced he wants to go a mile and three-eighths to a mile and a half against really good horses," said Attfield. "At a mile and a quarter, I'm going to have to think about it a little bit."

Added Edge on fence for King's Bishop

Another horse whose agenda may change is Added Edge, who finished third in his seasonal bow in last Saturday's 6 1/2-furlong Bold Venture.

Added Edge, owned by Team Valor Stable and Robert Wilson and trained by Mark Casse, was Canada's champion 2-year-old last year and was facing older horses Saturday while making his first start since being sidelined by injury in mid-January.

"They went so fast early, and he was struggling," said Casse. "I thought he overcame some obstacles. I was happy to see him running on at the end."

The Bold Venture was to have been Added Edge's prep for the seven-furlong King's Bishop at Saratoga on Aug. 23, but Casse is not ruling out a change in direction.

"We'll go ahead and nominate him, have a look and see how the race is coming up," said Casse.

Mulligan the Great will rest till Labor Day

Mulligan the Great won the Bold Venture by a length after dueling through wicked fractions of 21.51 and 43.54 seconds.

"He's just one of those rare horses you run into now and again, who would literally run himself into the ground," said Cliff Hopmans, who trains Mulligan the Great for owner Charles Simmons. "To set those kind of fractions and still grit his teeth and dig in is amazing."

Mulligan the Great was recording his second consecutive stakes win in the Bold Venture, having won the seven-furlong Overskate here July 2.

"That was my only concern, coming back 17 days off such a powerful all-out performance," said Hopmans. "We just freshened him up, filled the gas tank, sent him over there dying to run, and he responded."

Mulligan the Great is scheduled to make his next start here Sept. 1 in the six-furlong Kenora, one of six $125,000 yearling sales stakes on the Labor Day program. He won the Kenora last year.

Shepperton next for Krz Ruckus

Krz Ruckus, who had been entered in both the Bold Venture and the Ontario Jockey Club over seven furlongs of grass here last Saturday, ran in the Bold Venture and finished second.

A 6-year-old gelding, Krz Ruckus now has earned $794,094 for Ron Guidolin and partners and trainer Mike DePaulo. He is slated to make his next start in the $125,000 Shepperton, a 6 1/2-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward here Aug. 23.

Snake Pit makes 3-year-old debut

Stakes winner Snake Pit will make his belated seasonal debut here Thursday in the fourth race, a seven-furlong allowance for Ontario-sired runners.

Snake Pit tested the top 2-year-olds on the grounds in his first two starts, and was second on both occasions. He was beaten 3 3/4 lengths in his debut by Added Edge.

Trainer Barb Minshall then spotted Snake Pit aggressively in the Vandal, and had to be pleased when the gelding kept pace with rising star Wando until midstretch.

Snake Pit dusted Ontario-sired opponents following a two-month layoff Oct. 9 in the seven-furlong Frost King. He capped his campaign with a poor effort in the Nov. 2 Coronation Futurity.

Among the older runners Snake Pit faces Thursday is Bravely, the second-place finisher in the 2002 Prince of Wales Stakes. Bravely earned a solid 91 Beyer Figure at this distance when second to Dance to Destiny in his season opener, but has been a beaten favorite in each of his three subsequent outings.

Bravely's connections - jockey Patrick Husbands and trainer Catherine Day-Phillips - won two minor stakes last Sunday at Fort Erie with Geraint and Agolo.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink