09/15/2004 11:00PM

My Lucky Strike, Surging River join Atto cast

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Surging River wins the With Approval. He will step way up in the Atto.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Atto Mile gained two new faces Thursday, as locally based My Lucky Strike and Surging Free joined the lineup for Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million turf feature.

The field for the Atto Mile grew to nine after trainer John Cirillo scratched My Lucky Strike from an allowance race here Thursday to run there instead and trainer Mark Frostad elected to enter Surging River in addition to the likely Atto Mile favorite, Soaring Free.

My Lucky Strike, owned by Bill Wine and Joe Ferraro, is a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old gelding who has won 4 of 26 starts and earned $297,836.

Stakes placed twice last year, My Lucky Strike is winless in six starts this season. But both Cirillo and Vine point out that My Lucky Strike, in defiance of his name, has experienced more than his share of misfortune.

My Lucky Strike finished second to Soaring Free, beaten 2 3/4 lengths, in a six-furlong turf prep for the Highlander on June 6. It was My Lucky Strike's 2004 debut.

"I'd missed about three weeks of training with him before that race," Cirillo said. "I had to fix a quarter crack three or four times."

Cirillo also points to bad luck in the Play the King prep, a 6 1/2-furlong turf race in which My Lucky Strike finished fast under jockey Todd Kabel but wound up fourth, a half-length behind the winner.

"Kabel had to check him, or he would have won," said Cirillo.

My Lucky Strike has been lagging well off the pace, and Cirillo hopes the addition of blinkers will get him closer early in the Atto Mile. David Clark will ride.

Surging River, a 4-year-old colt owned and bred by Sam-Son Farm, has won 4 of 11 starts while earning $247,329.

After winning the With Approval, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for Canadian-breds here Aug. 8, Surging River journeyed to Saratoga for the Troy Stakes, but finished seventh of nine, beaten 4 3/4 lengths.

"He had a bad trip in Saratoga, and he didn't run a jump," said Frostad. "He came out of that feeling pretty good.

"His style didn't conflict with Soaring Free's. That's the only reason we considered this race. He has a good late kick, and seems to like this track."

Jockey Robert Landry, who won the 1999 Atto Mile for Sam-Son and Frostad when Quiet Resolve was promoted to first upon the disqualification of Hawksley Hill, will ride Surging River on Sunday for the first time.

Atto Mile candidates
Purse: $1 million; 1 mile (turf); Grade 1

Christine's OutlawR. Dominguez119
KathirS. Callaghan117
Millennium DragonR. Migliore119
My Lucky StrikeD. Clark117
Perfect SoulC. Nakatani121
Royal RegaliaJ. Jones117
Slew ValleyJ. McAleney121
Soaring FreeT. Kabel119
Surging RiverR. Landry117