08/23/2004 11:00PM

Super Case takes second crack at Soaring Free


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - There's no disputing that Soaring Free will be the horse to beat in Saturday's Grade 3 Play the King, a seven-furlong turf handicap that should be his stepping-stone to the Sept. 19 Atto Mile. But those searching for an upset candidate may consider Super Case, an improving 4-year-old colt who is owned by Stronach Stable and trained by Danny Vella.

"He's a lightly raced and improving horse," said Vella. "He's ready to go."

Super Case will be tackling Soaring Free for the second time after finishing second to him, beaten 2 1/4 lengths, in the Ontario Jockey Club Stakes over seven furlongs of turf here July 24.

The OJC marked the stakes debut of Super Case and also was just his second try on the turf. His first was a smart score at six furlongs in a second-level allowance here June 10.

"When you watch his last race you can see him digging in down the stretch," said Vella. "That puts a horse to the next level of fitness when they run like that."

The Play the King is the major local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Atto Mile, but Vella is not necessarily looking in that direction.

"I don't know if my horse will get that trip," said Vella. "I really think seven furlongs is his limit."

Stronach Stable should have a second Play the King entrant in Lucky Tom, who is trained by Mike Keogh.

Lucky Tom, a 4-year-old gelding who would be making his stakes debut, is coming off a sixth-place finish in the allowance prep for the Play the King over 6 1/2 furlongs of turf here Aug. 7.

"I think he ran pretty well in the prep," said Keogh, noting that Lucky Tom was beaten only 2 1/4 lengths in the race, which went in course-record time.

"He was closing, and it looked like he was in a little bit of trouble, too."

Lucky Tom won two of his first four starts on the grass here last year, in first- and second-level allowance races over six furlongs.

Mobil to yearling stakes

Keogh reports that Mobil resumed training last Sunday after being turned out for a week following his ninth-place finish in the Aug. 14 Arlington Million.

Mobil is nominated to both the Halton and the Elgin, two of the six $125,000 yearling sales stakes here Sept. 5.

Keogh says he hopes to enter Mobil in both the Halton, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up, and the Elgin, a 1 1/16-mile race for colts and geldings, 3 and up, and then pick his spot on race day.

Mobil was entered in the same two races last year and opted for the Halton, which he won easily.

Mobil has won nine stakes and $1,364,921 in 20 career starts. He is owned by his breeder, Gustav Schickedanz.

A Bit O'Gold back in training

A Bit O'Gold, winner of the last two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, returned to training Sunday after taking a 10-day break on the farm. Like Mobil, he is nominated to both the Halton and the Elgin.

After finishing second to Niigon here in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate, A Bit O'Gold turned the tables on that rival in Fort Erie's 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales. A Bit O' Gold then won the Breeders', a 1 1/2-mile turf race here, on the same day that Niigon finished fourth in the Jim Dandy before being placed third via a disqualification.

"We'll see how he's going," said Catherine Day Phillips, who trains A Bit O'Gold for The Two Bit Racing Stable. "If he's like he was going into the Breeders', he'll probably run in a yearling sales stakes. If not, we'll wait for the Ontario Derby. We'll breeze him this weekend, and see where we're at."

The $150,000 Ontario Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds, will be run here Oct. 10.

Winter Whiskey was also expected to be a force in the 3-year-old division this year for Day Phillips, but he has spent much of his time on the farm while disappointing in four trips to the post.

"He won't eat here," said Day Phillips, who conditions Winter Whiskey for Ten Goal Racing Stable. "He's training at the farm; he comes in to breeze."

Day Phillips said she nominated Winter Whiskey to the Elgin, "just in case he's suddenly setting the world on fire."

Winning Chance works five furlongs

Winning Chance, winner of the 1 1/16-mile Belle Mahone in her last start, worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds on a fast training track here Tuesday and is slated to make her next appearance in the Algoma, the 1 1/16-mile yearling sales stakes for fillies and mares.

Exercise rider Stacie Clark Rogers was aboard Winning Chance for Tuesday's tune-up.

"She's ready," said Vella, her trainer. "She'll breeze an easy half next week."

Winning Chance's victory in the Belle Mahone came at the expense of One for Rose, who finished second as the 4-5 choice.

One for Rose had finished ahead of Winning Chance in their first six encounters, leaving Winning Chance the runner-up on five of those occasions, including One for Rose's 9 1/2-length score in last year's Algoma.

One for Rose, who is also Algoma-bound, bounced back from her Belle Mahone defeat to register an impressive victory over males in the 1 1/16-mile Seagram Cup here Aug. 7.