11/17/2004 12:00AM

Sam-Son packs bags


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Sam-Son Farm barn will be closed for business for the balance of this year's Woodbine meeting.

On Wednesday morning there were just three horses left on the spacious Sam-Son shed row, and they soon will be heading to the outfit's farm in Florida.

Another 16 horses have left for the Fair Grounds, where trainer Mark Frostad has maintained a Sam-Son division at eight previous meetings.

This year's Fair Grounds session begins next Thursday, and Frostad expects to have 22 horses there.

"We've had a lot of success there, especially developing horses who are going to be 3-year-olds," said Frostad, noting that Queen's Plate winners Scatter the Gold and Dancethruthedawn and this year's Woodbine Oaks winner Eye of the Sphynx had all wintered at Fair Grounds.

This year's Queen's Plate project is Dance With Ravens, who won his maiden in his third career start, the 1 1/16-mile Grey Stakes here Oct. 1.

"He had a small chip taken out of his ankle," said Frostad, who had hoped to have Dance With Ravens conclude his campaign here in the Coronation Futurity.

"We stopped on him right after the Grey. We were more concerned with trying to make the Plate with him, rather than going on now.

"He may get a start in at Fair Grounds. He'll run at Keeneland for sure."

Sam-Son's Fair Grounds presence is strong on turf horses, with the likes of Strut the Stage, Colorful Judgement, Fly Smartly, and Walls of Jericho among the shippers.

Both Strut the Stage and Colorful Judgement were Grade 2 stakes winners on the turf here this year, with Strut the Stage taking the Niagara and Colorful Judgement the Sky Classic.

Another interesting member of the Fair Grounds group is Portcullis, who was Canada's champion turf horse as a 3-year-old in 2002 but has not seen action in over a year.

Hugh Chatman, an assistant to Frostad, said Portcullis damaged a tendon and has undergone extensive rehabilitation.

"He's doing great," said Chatman, who will be based at Fair Grounds while Lynn Kehlbrier, another key Frostad assistant, will be on the farm in Florida.

Frostad leaves with 39 winners

Frostad will wind up the meeting with 39 winners. That was good for third place in the standings going into this week, but no fewer than six trainers were within six victories of that total.

With 13 stakes winners at the meeting, Frostad is tied with Bob Tiller, who still has bullets to fire in that category. Frostad's money-leading total of $4,343,851 should stand up, however, with Tiller almost $800,000 behind in second place.

Sam-Son is the leading owner at the meeting, with $4,235,702 in earnings.

In Sovereign contention, as usual

Frostad should find himself among the finalists for the Sovereign Award for outstanding trainer, and Sam-Son Farm is a perennial finalist in both the owner and breeder categories.

The outfit also should be well represented in the Sovereign Award voting in several equine divisions.

Soaring Free is a leading contender for top turf male, a division that Sam-Son and Frostad dominated.

Dance With Ravens is a candidate for 2-year-old colt or gelding honors, while Eye of the Sphynx, who will winter in Florida and should resurface at Keeneland next spring, will be a force in the 3-year-old filly balloting.

Doyle also headed south

Trainer Michael Doyle, who has been on the scene for the last six Fair Grounds meetings, also will be among the returnees.

"I'm sending a few horses down on the weekend and a few at the end of November," said Doyle. "I'll also be picking up a couple from Kentucky, and getting a couple from Florida."

Doyle, who eventually expects to have 15 to 20 horses in New Orleans, will be setting up shop in the same barn as Frostad.

But one horse who will not be part of the Doyle contingent is Refuse to Bend, a Canadian-bred 3-year-old who began his career at Fair Grounds last February and went on to become a stakes winner here in the $104,000 Izvestia.

"We took a chip out of his knee," said Doyle, who is a co-owner of Refuse to Bend along with partner Bill Duffy. "He's out until next year."

* A Bit O'Gold blew out two furlongs in 25.60 seconds on a fast main track here Wednesday morning in preparation for Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Woodbine Slots Cup Handicap. Julia Moya, assistant to trainer Catherine Day Phillips, was aboard for the drill. A Bit O'Gold, a leading candidate for the Sovereign Award in the 3-year-old colt or gelding division, will be facing older rivals for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile Slots Cup.

* The Finagler worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 on a fast training track here Wednesday with an eye toward the Nov. 27 Display Stakes.