09/14/2004 12:00AM

Nixon opts to stay at home


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Royal Regalia, a Kentucky-bred 6-year-old gelding owned by Stronach Stable, had plenty of options for the upcoming weekend.

On Tuesday, Royal Regalia already had been entered in Saturday's $100,000 Sussex Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile turf race at Delaware Park, and also had been nominated to Saturday stakes at Belmont and Pimlico.

But when push came to shove the decision was made to run Royal Regalia here in Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Atto Mile, a turf race for 3-year-olds and upwards that was shaping up with a field of seven as of Tuesday.

"We decided to stay at home," said trainer Justin Nixon, who was based at Fort Erie with Royal Regalia this year and moved his string to Stronach's nearby Adena Springs North following the conclusion of that meeting.

"We can be here from the farm in 30 minutes. Shipping eight to 10 hours takes a little something away from him."

Royal Regalia shipped in from Adena Springs North on Tuesday morning and breezed five furlongs over the fast Woodbine training track in 1:03.40 under Jono Jones, who has the call Sunday.

"His last quarter was really strong. That's all he needs," said Nixon, adding that Royal Regalia would be returning to the farm following his workout.

Jones will be riding Royal Regalia for the second time. Their first partnership resulted in a track-record of 1:31.84 over the Atto Mile's course and distance here July 1.

Royal Regalia was making his first start in eighth months that day and racing under fourth-level allowance terms.

"He rated perfectly that day," said Jones.

"If he's on his 'A' game," said Jones, "they've gotta run to beat him."

* Corey Nakatani has picked up the mount on Perfect Soul, an Irish-bred 6-year-old horse who finished third in last year's Atto Mile for his owner and breeder, Charles Fipke, and trainer Roger Attfield.

Atto Mile candidates

Purse: $1 million; 1 mile (turf); Grade 1

Christine's OutlawR. Dominguez119
KathirS. Callaghan124
Millennium DragonR. Migliore119
Perfect SoulC. Nakatani121
Royal RegaliaJ. Jones117
Slew ValleyJ. McAleney121
Soaring FreeT. Kabel119