08/30/2002 12:00AM

Noverre coming to take a shot at Atto Mile


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Atto Mile received a big boost Friday with the news that Noverre, a Group 1 winner who races for the powerful Godolphin outfit, will be here for the Sept. 8 headliner.

Noverre, based in England with trainer Saaed bin Suroor, is slated to arrive Tuesday for the Grade 1 Atto Mile, a $1 million turf race for 3-year-olds and upward.

A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred, Noverre will be making his third trip to North America, having finished 11th in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs and seventh as the favorite in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Belmont last October.

Noverre has started four times this season, all in Group 1 company, finishing second on the first three occasions and third last time out in the 1 1/4-mile Juddmonte International at York.

Sambuca on Ice done for the year, at least

Trainer Rita Schnitzler's stable suffered a double whammy during the past week: Sambuca on Ice was injured in last Saturday's Shepperton, where he finished third, and the virus that recently cut a swath through the backstretch will prevent Boldest of All from competing in Monday's Muskoka Stakes.

Sambuca on Ice, a 5-year-old Bold Executive horse owned by Frank Romano, had won the New Providence and Bold Venture, while earning $249,965 in what was by far his finest year.

"He's been retired for the year," said Schnitzler. "We haven't decided whether he's retired for life yet.

"He pulled a tendon pretty good. He had it before in the same leg, so it's the same injury recurring. I don't know how bad it's going to be.

"He has lots of time to come back to run five-eighths in the spring. If not, maybe Frank will stand him at stud somewhere. He looks just like Bold Executive."

Boldest of All, also by Bold Executive, would have been one of the key contenders in the Muskoka, a seven-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies that will be one of six yearling sales stakes here on the holiday Monday program.

"She was going to run, and I thought she had a big shot," said Schnitzler. "But she's been so sick, and she's just finally beginning to get over it.

"Her blood was down. She was the sickest of all my horses. I couldn't get her temperature to come down." Thursday, Schnitzler said, was the first day that Boldest of All "started to pick her head up ."

Boldest of All, owned by Stubbs Investment Inc., won the six-furlong Nandi in her last start here and has earned $89,595 from three appearances to date.

Wando works on turf for grass debut

Wando worked four furlongs in 49.80 seconds on the training track turf course here Friday and is slated to start in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes here next Sunday, Atto Mile Day.

With jockey Jim McAleney in the irons, Wando worked in company with unraced 3-year-old filly Persephonie, a full sister to the stakes-placed Marienburg who was clocked in 50.20 seconds.

"He let him break about three lengths in behind her, and he sat there until just before the three-eighths pole," said trainer Mike Keogh, who clocked Wando's closing quarter-mile in 23.20 seconds.

Owned and bred by Gustav Schickedanz, Wando would be making his turf debut in the $250,000 Summer, a one-mile race for 2-year-olds. The colt is undefeated in two starts, including a 7 3/4-length romp in the six-furlong Vandal here Aug. 18.

Meghanmehappy in Natalma work

Meghanmehappy worked five furlongs on the turf in 1:00.20 Friday in preparation for Saturday's Grade 3 Natalma Stakes.

Stanley Bethley, who recently renewed his jockey's license, was aboard Meghanmehappy, who went in company with stablemates Herpotofgold (1:00.80) and Sass Me Sarah (1:02.60).

Owned by Al and Pat Gerrans of Texas and trained by Mark Casse, Meghanmehappy will be seeking her third win in as many starts in the Natalma, a one-mile turf race for 2-year-old fillies. She won the Natalma prep over seven furlongs of turf last time out.

Veterinarian downplays West Nile

While the first Ontario case of West Nile virus in a horse was confirmed early this week, Ontario Racing Commission veterinarian Dr. John McNie said there is no immediate threat at Woodbine.

The horse who tested positive for the virus in Maidstone, some 200 miles southwest of Woodbine, was euthanized.

The West Nile virus originates with mosquitoes, which primarily infect birds. Horses and humans also are susceptible to the disease but cannot transmit the virus directly.

"It's definitely a concern," said McNie, "but it's at a minimum in this area, compared to other parts of southern Ontario, where it's been wetter and they don't have the same potential for control."

McNie pointed out that a hot and dry summer, plus a concerted effort to discourage mosquito breeding, have kept West Nile virus at bay here at Woodbine.

"Any standing water has been minimized," he said. "They've been working at keeping the ditches clean, asked the stables to keep buckets turned over, been keeping the weeds cut."

McNie warned, however, that West Nile virus now is established in the province and is not about to go away.

"Vaccination will probably be something everybody is looking at now, especially outside the racetrack," he said.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink