05/03/2004 11:00PM

Sam-Son pins hopes on a pair


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - In many seasons, Sam-Son Farm has had several hands to play during the run-up to the Queen's Plate and the Labatt Woodbine Oaks.

But, according to Sam-Son trainer Mark Frostad, the outfit has just one of each kind for this year's June 27 running of the Queen's Plate and June 13 renewal of the Woodbine Oaks.

Burst of Fire is nominated to Saturday's $150,000 Queenston, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds that is a stepping-stone to the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate.

Eye of the Sphynx is on the list for Sunday's $150,000 Fury, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies that is a stepping-stone to the 1 1/8-mile Oaks.

Burst of Fire and Eye of the Sphynx are eligible for the first-level allowance condition, but it would be no surprise to see either 3-year-old step into stakes company here this weekend.

Burst of Fire won his debut over a mile and 40 yards at Fair Grounds on March 13.

In his only subsequent outing, at Keeneland on April 14, Burst of Fire finished third in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles, beaten 15 1/4 lengths by Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up and Kentucky Derby contestant Minister Eric.

In his first work since arriving at Woodbine, Burst of Fire drilled six furlongs in 1:12.40 last Wednesday.

"He didn't like that track at Keeneland," said Frostad. "But he sure worked good here the other day. He was out [seven furlongs] in 1:25. That was a pretty serious move."

Eye of the Sphynx, also unraced at 2, made her debut at Keeneland on April 22 and was a convincing winner over seven furlongs of sloppy going.

"She ran a big race," said Frostad. "She's a big, rangy filly. She should be able to get the [Oaks] trip."

Soaring Free tries Pimlico dirt

Soaring Free, Canada's champion sprinter of 2003 for Sam-Son and Frostad, is slated to make his next appearance in Pimlico's six-furlong Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap on May 15, Preakness Day.

The Grade 3, $200,000 Maryland Breeders' Cup will be Soaring Free's first start on dirt since last June 4, when he earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 109 here in the off-the-turf prep for the Nearctic Handicap over six furlongs of sloppy going.

Soaring Free went on to win the Nearctic, Ontario Jockey Club, and Play the King on the turf course here before finishing second in the Atto Mile. He was runner-up to Perfect Soul in the Sovereign Award turf horse voting and third behind Wando and Perfect Soul in the horse of the year voting.

A 5-year-old gelding, Soaring Free started his current campaign with a solid score in the Grade 3 Shakertown over 5 1/2 furlongs of Keeneland turf.

Strut the Stage, a 6-year-old Sam-Son horse who was last year's other Sovereign Award turf finalist, also is back for another season and breezed three furlongs last week.

"He's not going to run real soon," said Frostad.

Perfect Soul targets King Edward

Perfect Soul is back at Woodbine after an atypical performance in last Saturday's Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.

Coming off a winning seasonal bow in the Grade 2 Maker's Mark Mile on firm turf at Keeneland, Perfect Soul failed to handle the yielding going at Churchill and ended 10th under jockey Edgar Prado.

"Edgar said he just got bogged down," said Roger Attfield, who trains Perfect Soul for owner and breeder Charles Fipke. "He's a big horse, and he was floundering. Edgar gave him a couple of smacks, and he just galloped around there."

Perfect Soul's next major target will be the Grade 2, $300,000 King Edward Breeders' Cup Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile turf race here June 19. Perfect Soul won the race last year at age 5, with Strut the Stage second.

"The King Edward was always on his schedule," said Attfield. "I'd probably have looked to run him somewhere else before that, but he might just stay here and run in the Connaught."

The Connaught Cup, a Grade 3, $150,000 race at 1 1/16 miles, will be run May 30 and is the first scheduled turf stakes of the meeting.

Peace and Joy in for allowance

Mountaineer Park shipper Peace and Joy should be well backed in Thursday's seventh race at Woodbine, a six-furlong starter allowance for 3-year-olds and up who have run for $20,000 or less since the beginning of 2003.

Peace and Joy had a productive 2003 campaign, winning three of 14 starts while being claimed on four occasions. Owner Richard Englander took him for $35,000 from an impressive front-running score at Delaware in October, and Peace and Joy failed to stay a mile in his next appearance, in a stakes at Mountaineer.

Peace and Joy competed for trainer Michael Baird in his last three outings, the most recent of which was a two-length triumph in a $40,000 claimer March 22. Englander has since turned Peace and Joy over to trainer Scott Fairlie, who has secured Gerry Olguin for the mount Thursday.

Also entered in Thursday's seventh race are Jrsoutofcontrol, Irish Wager, Estonia, Chasing Stanley, Hayley Match Me Up, and Expected Flirt.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink