09/01/2004 11:00PM

Peace Rules tops Atto nominees


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Grade 1 Atto Mile, which will be run on Sept. 19, has attracted 42 nominees, including 16 from the United States and nine from Europe.

But any horse venturing to Woodbine for the $1 million turf race could be in for a very rude reception, with Soaring Free, Perfect Soul, and Slew Valley all lying in wait.

Owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Mark Frostad, Soaring Free finished second in last year's Atto Mile, beaten a half-length by California invader Touch of the Blues and 1 3/4 lengths ahead of third-place Perfect Soul.

This year, at 5, Soaring Free seems equally potent. The gelding brings a four-race win streak into the Atto Mile, including the Ontario Jockey Club and Play the King at seven furlongs on turf.

Perfect Soul opened his campaign by capturing the Grade 2 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland, but is winless in three starts since.

A 6-year-old horse owned and bred by Charles Fipke and trained by Roger Attfield, Perfect Soul will be making his first appearance since finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Chinese Cultural Centre at 1 3/8 miles on turf here July 25. Attfield then elected to train Perfect Soul up to the Atto Mile, noting that the horse has a history of running well when fresh.

Slew Valley also will be making his second appearance in the Atto Mile, having finished 1 1/4 lengths back as the fifth-place finisher behind Numerous Times in 2001.

A 7-year-old horse owned by his breeder, Jim Hindman, in partnership with Alan Burkhard, Slew Valley was sent here to trainer Reade Baker in May, and rattled off back-to-back turf scores in the Connaught Cup and the King Edward Breeders' Cup.

When Slew Valley failed to fire in his next start, finishing sixth in the Chinese Cultural Centre, Baker decided to give the horse a break and train him up to the Atto Mile.

The most prominent invader with designs on the Atto Mile is Peace Rules, a multiple Grade 1 winner of more than $3 million. Bobby Frankel, who trains Peace Rules for Edmund Gann, has said the Atto Mile is on his agenda. Frankel and Gann won the 2000 Atto Mile with Riviera.

Peace Rules, a 4-year-old colt, has not started on turf since finishing last of 13 in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita last Oct. 15.

As a 2-year-old, however, Peace Rules ran well on the grass in California while winning three of four turf starts, including Santa Anita's Grade 3 Generous and Hollywood's Hill Rise. All four races were at one mile.

Passing Glance is one European invader whose connections have expressed an interest in the Atto Mile.

Passing Glance, a 5-year-old, is trained by Andrew Balding, who won the Grade 1 Canadian International here last fall with Phoenix Reach. Passing Glance has won a Group 2 race in Germany and a Group 3 in England.

Mocha Queen arrives for Colleen

Shaconage, based at Churchill Downs, was coming off a win at Ellis Park when she shipped to Woodbine last year to upset the Ontario Colleen Handicap.

Mocha Queen, based at Churchill Downs, won her last start at Ellis Park on Aug. 16 and will be looking to establish a mini-trend when she runs in Saturday's Ontario Colleen, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies.

A Kentucky-bred trained by Michael Lauer, Mocha Queen arrived here Tuesday, accompanied by assistant trainer Jim Henry.

"She's training better than she ever has," said Henry. "She's definitely improving."

Mocha Queen has finished first or second in each of her last five starts, all on the turf, and will be seeking her third consecutive win in the Colleen.

On July 31, at Arlington Park, Mocha Queen rallied to finish in a dead heat for first in a second-level allowance at a mile.

In her Ellis start, at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf, Mocha Queen closed smartly to score by a length in an overnight handicap.

"As soon as she got to the five-eighths pole, she ran by them like they were standing still," said Henry. "And, the race didn't seem to take anything out of her."

Henry believes that Mocha Queen's off-the-pace style could play well over Woodbine's turf course.

"She's got a good turn of foot, that last quarter-mile when you call on her," said Henry. "I think she's going to be pretty tough in here."

Jim McAleney has picked up the mount on Mocha Queen, whose four wins have come under four different riders.

My Vintage Port stalks and wins

My Vintage Port ($3.50) took control at the top of the stretch and easily held off a bid from Bay Sweetie Babe in the final furlong to capture the $131,125 Eternal Search Stakes here Wednesday night.

Jono Jones rode My Vintage Port, who tracked front-running El Tara through slow fractions of 24.34 seconds, 48.19, and 1:12.11 in the 1 1/16-mile event.

My Vintage Port went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:43.98. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 87, the best of her career.

"She did everything great today," said Jones. "She's become a real professional."

Bay Sweetie Babe commenced an inside rally heading into the far turn, and came three wide down the stretch to finish a clear second.

El Tara faded in the stretch, but held on for third in the seven-horse field of Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

It was the second consecutive stakes triumph for My Vintage Port, who was coming off an upset score on turf in the 1 1/4-mile Wonder Where Stakes, the third leg of the Canadian triple tiara.

My Vintage Port, who was Canada's champion 2-year-old filly last year, earned $78,675 for her trainer, Ken Parsley, who co-owns My Vintage Port with Rick Pettifer. Her career earnings now stand at $704,328.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink