08/28/2002 12:00AM

Sweetest Thing finished for year


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sweetest Thing, whose ultimate target this year was the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, is through for the season.

"She's showing some wear and tear," said her trainer, Roger Attfield, "and we decided she needed to be stopped on for a while.

"It's really too bad - we were looking forward to probably going to the Breeders' Cup, the way she was going."

Sweetest Thing, an Ontario-bred 4-year-old, had been voted Canada's champion turf filly last year after winning Woodbine's Breeders' and Wonder Where for Attfield, who also was a co-owner along with Mickey Canino and Bill Werner.

After running well in Florida, Kentucky, and New York this spring, Sweetest Thing was purchased by the Lael Stable of Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who left her here with Attfield. But the filly raced just once for her new owners, winning the Grade 3 Dance Smartly July 6.

Attfield had been looking for a prep to get Sweetest Thing to the Sept. 29 E.P. Taylor Stakes, which in turn was to serve as her stepping-stone to the Breeders' Cup. But the filly instead has been sent to Denali Stud, in Kentucky, where her future will be assessed.

Perfect Soul heads Niagara entry

Attfield will be hoping to ease the pain of Sweetest Thing's departure when he sends out the entry of Perfect Soul and Muntej for Saturday's $335,400 Niagara Handicap, a 1 1/2-mile turf race that has been raised to Grade 1 status this year.

Perfect Soul, a 4-year-old Sadler's Wells colt who was bred in Ireland by his owner, Charles Fipke, launched his career here June 6 and heads into the Niagara with a perfect record in three career starts.

"I got him this winter, at Payson Park," said Attfield. "He'd been out on the West Coast, and he fractured his cannon bone."

A screw was inserted, and later removed, but Perfect Soul had other issues when he came to Attfield.

"He was kind of a bad actor," said the trainer. "I spent a lot of time in Florida with him, getting his attitude right. He's quite a hard horse to train."

Attfield's patience obviously has borne fruit, as Perfect Soul, racing exclusively on turf, has progressed from seven furlongs to 1 1/4 miles to 1 3/8 miles without missing a beat.

"His attitude's changing from race to race," said the trainer. "He's a nice horse to be around.

"His races are improved every time he's run. Obviously, he lacks experience, but I really think a lot of this horse."

Perfect Soul tuned up for the Niagara on the turf training course Wednesday, breezing five furlongs in 1:00.20 under exercise rider Paul O'Sullivan.

Muntej, a 5-year-old owned by Attfield and partners, also breezed five furlongs on the turf, going in 1:01.40 while in company with stablemate El Soprano.

Slade Callaghan was aboard for the drill and has picked up the ride on Muntej, who is coming off a fourth-place finish in the 1 1/2-mile turf prep for the Niagara.

Dollase pair arrives

Sumati, one of two invaders in the Niagara's nine-horse field, checked in from California on Wednesday morning along with Good Journey, who is one of the leading candidates for the Sept. 8 Atto Mile.

Both Sumati and Good Journey are trained by Wally Dollase and are here with his daughter and assistant, Aimee Dollase.

Good Journey, a Kentucky-bred 6-year-old by Nureyev, will be seeking his third win in as many starts this year in the Grade 1 Atto Mile, a turf race that offers a purse of $1 million.

Both of Good Journey's wins this year came over a mile on turf at Churchill Downs, the first in an allowance race June 15 and the second in the Grade 2 Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap July 4.

Both successes also came under Pat Day, who took over aboard Good Journey this season and is slated to be here for the Atto Mile.

"We've been thinking about the Atto Mile since the beginning of the year," said Aimee Dollase. "We mapped out a plan to hit this race, then hopefully the Breeders' Cup Mile.

"After he won the Firecracker, we gave him a couple of months to point for this race. He's a really nice horse. I think this will be his year."

While Sumati's presence is unlikely to strike terror into the hearts of his Niagara opponents, Dollase stresses that he did not just come along for the ride. A 6-year-old, Sumati began his career in Italy and was sent to Dollase late in 1999.

While Sumati has failed to measure up in California stakes company, Aimee Dollase believes the distance and course over which the Niagara is contested are points in Sumati's favor.

"It's kind of hard in California to find mile and a half races," said Dollase, "especially at the level he has to run at, allowance or high claiming.

"I feel at a mile and a half, he's real effective. But, more importantly, this turf course should fit him real nice. He's had a lot of problems in the past, and the turf course here is real forgiving."

While Sumati enters the Niagara off a second-place finish for $62,500 at Del Mar July 25, Dollase points out that the winner there established a track record for 1 3/8 miles on turf.

Sumati has been sold since his last start and will be racing for Big Fly Stable, a California-based group whose members include former major league baseball star Bobby Bonilla.