07/25/2004 11:00PM

Soaring Free, Shoal Water set records


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - It wasn't enough that Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad won two of the three stakes run here last weekend.

Both Soaring Free, in Saturday's Ontario Jockey Club, and Shoal Water, in Sunday's Chinese Cultural Centre, also broke records.

Soaring Free's clocking of 1:19.38 broke the North American record for seven furlongs on turf while Shoal Water's time of 2:12.37 for 1 3/8 miles on turf set a Woodbine record.

Soaring Free and Shoal Water both were ridden by Todd Kabel, who was completing a weekend stakes sweep. He also won Saturday's $160,350 Shady Well.

Kabel has won 17 of the 45 stakes races at the meeting, including nine of the 14 run since July 1, and has been aboard each of Frostad and Sam-Son's seven stakes winners.

Soaring Free was making his second consecutive contribution to Kabel's run on Saturday, having won the Grade 3 Highlander over six furlongs of grass here June 27.

"He's certainly running very well," said Frostad. "He's more mature; he's 5 years old now. He's really settled; he knows what he's doing."

Soaring Free's coming of age actually began taking shape last spring, as he was gelded before the start of his campaign and went on to be named Canada's champion sprinter.

His first stakes score came in last year's Nearctic, over six furlongs on turf, and it launched a three-race winning streak, which also included the Ontario Jockey Club and Play the King. The streak ended with a strong second-place finish here in the Grade 1 Atto Mile.

Soaring Free will follow the same path this year, going next in the Grade 3, $150,000 Play the King, a seven-furlong turf handicap here Aug. 28 and then the $1 million Atto Mile on Sept. 19.

Shoal Water hits new heights

Shoal Water, a 4-year-old gelding, scored the biggest victory of his career in the Chinese Cultural Centre, a Grade 2 with a purse of $333,000.

"I thought he had a big chance," said Frostad, "especially if he had some speed to track. It worked out nicely."

The speed was provided by Mobil, who gave Shoal Water all he could handle, battling gamely to cut a one-length deficit at the eighth pole to only a neck at the wire.

"Mobil ran a big race," Frostad said. "He fought back."

Shoal Water was not the only Sam-Son runner in the Chinese Cultural Centre. Frostad and owner Tammy Samuel-Balaz also were delighted with the performance of Strut the Stage, a 6-year-old who finished a fast-closing third.

Frostad had entered Strut the Stage in a prep for the Chinese Cultural Centre here July 4 but the race did not fill.

"It's too bad that prep didn't go for him," said Frostad. "I didn't know how tight he'd really be.

"I think he might have won [Sunday], if he had a race in him. He ran a terrific race, more than you could expect from him."

Kabel had been named on both Shoal Water and Strut the Stage but, in what Frostad termed "a joint decision," wound up with Shoal Water while Slade Callaghan rode Strut the Stage.

Both Shoal Water and Strut the Stage will be nominated for the Niagara, a Grade 2, $300,000 turf handicap over 1 1/2 miles here Sept. 6.

The Niagara is the major local prep for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Canadian International at the same distance and surface here Oct. 24.

Strut the Stage won the Niagara last year.

Attfield puzzled over Perfect Soul

Among the disappointments in the Chinese Cultural Centre was Perfect Soul, Canada's reigning champion turf male, who finished 5 1/4 lengths behind the winner in fifth place as the 8-5 favorite.

"I don't think he ran his race," said Roger Attfield, who had hoped to use Sunday's stakes as a stepping-stone to the Grade 1 Arlington Million on Aug. 14.

"I don't know what I'm going to do, from here. I very much doubt I would go to the Arlington Million off that race."

South Bay Cove restores rep

The weekend certainly was not a washout for Attfield, as he sent out South Bay Cove, the homebred 2-year-old filly whom he conditions for Bill Graham, for a 12 1/2-length score in the Shady Well.

South Bay Cove, a daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus and Fantasy Lake, who was Canada's champion 2-year-old filly of 1998, had scored impressively at first asking but then settled for fourth as the odds-on choice after being interfered with in the stretch run of the My Dear.

"She got bothered, but she didn't run her race there, either," said Attfield. "A number of my horses had been sick, and didn't come back as well as I thought.

"We worked them a couple of times, and they didn't run back to our expectations. That might have happened to her, too."

The $125,000 Ontario Debutante, an open six-furlong race, is next up for the best of the 2-year-old filly division here Aug. 22. Further down the road are races such as the Grade 2 Mazarine here Oct. 3 and the Princess Elizabeth Oct. 23.

Both the Mazarine and Princess Elizabeth are $250,000 races at 1 1/16 miles; the Princess Elizabeth is restricted to Canadian-breds.

"We'll probably try and stretch her speed out. I think she can," said Attfield of South Bay Cove. "She's a very nice filly."