06/16/2003 11:00PM

Shoal Water fits on numbers

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Less than three weeks ago, it seemed unlikely that Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad would be represented in this year's Queen's Plate.

But that situation changed suddenly when Shoal Water, making his first start in six months, led throughout a first-level allowance race at 1 1/16 miles here May 30.

"Even before his last race, we weren't pointing for the Plate," Frostad said. "But it's a $1 million race, and he's tied for the third-best last-out Beyer."

Shoal Water earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 93, a number equaling that earned by Rock Again for his runner-up finish in the Plate Trial and surpassed only by Trial winner Mobil (95) and Marine winner Wando (103).

Mobil, Wando, and Rock Again are the three leading contenders for Sunday's Queen's Plate, the 1 1/4-mile showpiece for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Shoal Water "is still a longshot," Frostad acknowledged. "He's not very seasoned."

Shoal Water, a homebred who was gelded before his racing career began, did not make his first appearance until last October.

"He was just big and immature," Frostad said.

Shoal Water wasted no time proving that he had talent, however, as he finished second in the Cup and Saucer in that first outing, beaten a half-length by Mobil at 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf.

Less than three weeks later, Shoal Water was back in action in the Coronation Futurity, where he finished a badly beaten sixth at 1 1/8 miles.

But, he rebounded nicely in his final start of the campaign, winning his maiden at 6 1/2 furlongs in his second main-track appearance here Nov. 23.

"He was operated on after that race," Frostad said. "He had a chip taken out of his ankle and he didn't get started back until late January, in Florida."

Frostad and Sam-Son will be represented by Soaring Free in Sunday's supporting feature, the Grade 2, $250,000 Nearctic Handicap.

Soaring Free, a 4-year-old gelding, has won 4 of 8 career starts.

While he is coming off an impressive win in the prep for the Nearctic, which was taken off the grass, Soaring Free will be making his turf debut in Sunday's race.

"His whole family's turf," Frostad said. "But he's still got a lot to do. He got a huge Beyer (111) last time, but stakes competition is stakes competition. There's some nice, seasoned horses going in that race."

Strut the Stage impresses

Frostad also is looking forward to the next appearance of Strut the Stage, the 5-year-old turf specialist who finished second to Perfect Soul when making his first start of the year in the King Edward Breeders' Cup at 1 1/8 miles on turf here last Sunday.

"He'd been off almost eight months; I thought it was a huge comeback," Frostad said. "He'll be a lot better next time."

Strut the Stage could get another crack at Perfect Soul in the Grade 2, $300,000 Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes, a 1 3/8-mile turf race here on July 20.

Perfect Soul: Local start, then Million

Roger Attfield always has had a lofty opinion of Perfect Soul, a 5-year-old he trains for owner-breeder Charles Fipke.

Perfect Soul, who ran second in the Grade 1 Niagara here last year, recorded his first stakes victory in the King Edward.

Perfect Soul began his campaign with a third-level allowance win at Keeneland and a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico.