06/23/2006 12:00AM

Soaring Free looks to rebound in Highlander

Email

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Soaring Free, Canada's Horse of the Year in 2004, will try to relive past glory in the $200,000 Highlander Stakes, the supporting feature on Queen's Plate Day at Woodbine.

has won the last two runnings of the Grade 3 Highlander, a six-furlong turf dash. He could only manage a sixth-place finish under John Velazquez in his lone start this year, in the Grade 3 Shakertown at Keeneland in April.

Hugh Chatman, the assistant to trainer Mark Frostad, said Soaring Free had a tough trip in the Shakertown.

"John Velazquez said himself that he kind of screwed it up," Chatman recalled. "He had the 1-hole, and he sat and waited to let [Soaring Free] run his race. Traffic got in front of him going into the turn, and he got trapped along the inside. He had to grab a hold of him, to gear him down a little."

Chatman was aboard for Soaring Free's five-furlong work in 1:00.80 on the main track on June 17.

"He breezed nice, on his own," Chatman said.

United Stakes shippers , the first- and third-place finishers in the Shakertown at Keeneland in April, are also in the Highlander lineup.

Man of Illusion turned the tables on Atticus Kristy in the Grade 3 Turf Sprint at Churchill, Downs on May 5, winning despite a wide journey. He was subsequently upset over yielding ground in a listed stakes at Lone Star Park, but has come back and worked quickly at Saratoga for trainer Patrick Biancone.

Atticus Kristy has run eight times since his third-place finish in the Nearctic Handicap at Woodbine Oct. 23. Most recently, in a listed stakes at Churchill, he was overhauled in deep stretch and wound up second.

"He has a tendency to pull himself up when he gets in front," said trainer Merrill Scherer. "The last time he ran, he got to the lead too quick and hung it up."

Sophia's Prince was beaten a neck under Simon Husbands when second after a troubled trip in his last grass outing, in the Grade 2 Nearctic.

"I got cut off at the five-eighths pole," said Husbands. "I dropped back to last, before he jumped on the bridle and took off. I didn't want him to move that soon, but he wanted to go, and when he wants to go, you have to let him go. You can't fight him."

Sophia's Prince is making his third start of the year and is trained by John LeBlanc Jr.