09/14/2003 11:00PM

Locals regroup and map future after Atto efforts

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - While the shipper Touch of the Blues took the biggest share of the Atto Mile purse, the four remaining checks will stay right here at Woodbine.

Soaring Free, Perfect Soul, Wando, and Chopinina all acquitted themselves respectably, and there's a very good chance that at least a couple of them could be taking another run at Touch of the Blues in the Oct. 25 Breeders' Cup Mile.

Although he came up short in his bid to give Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad a second Atto Mile winner, Soaring Free still ran the race of his career as the clear runner-up.

Soaring Free had won his first five starts this year but had not raced farther than seven furlongs on turf before the Atto Mile.

"The winner had a dream trip, we gave him two pounds, and he beat us," said Frostad. "I was ecstatic with our horse's race."

Frostad said Soaring Free could make his next appearance in the Oct. 4 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland or go straight to the Breeders' Cup.

Trainer Roger Attfield is considering those same options for Perfect Soul, who rallied from last in the field of 12 to finish third in the Atto Mile under new rider Jose Santos.

Perfect Soul, owned by Charles Fipke, was racing at a mile for the first time and shortening up following a close fifth-place finish in the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million.

"He ran a huge race. He just had too much to do," said Attfield, noting that Perfect Soul had run his final quarter-mile in about 22.60 seconds.

"Jose said it will be a different situation next time. The horse will be running a mile for the second time, and he'll be on him for the second time. He's confident the mile is right up his alley."

Wando, seeking to become the first 3-year-old and the first favorite to win the Atto Mile in its seventh running, was beaten 2 1/4 lengths after taking a short-lived lead with a quarter mile to run.

Not only was Wando facing older rivals for the first time, but he also was cutting back sharply in distance after completing his Canadian Triple Crown sweep under rider Patrick Husbands here in the Breeders' Stakes over 1 1/2 miles on turf.

"Maybe this race served to sharpen him more," said Mike Keogh, who trains Wando for owner-breeder Gustav Schickedanz. "He had a nice clean trip, but he may have had to move a little sooner than Patrick wanted to.

"I thought he ran a dynamite race. He certainly proved he belonged."

Chopinina, who finished second in last year's Atto Mile, was fifth as the lone filly or mare in this year's renewal. Chopinina move to the lead with about a half-mile to run and wound up five lengths behind the winner.

"I think she dug in pretty good," said trainer Alec Fehr.

Following her first Atto Mile appearance, Chopinina made her next start in the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, where she finished 11th.

Fehr, however, said a Breeders' Cup encore is not planned this fall, and Chopinina's next major target is the Grade 1, $500,000 Matriarch, a one-mile turf race for fillies and mares at Hollywood Park Nov. 30.