08/09/2001 12:00AM

Turf, distance suit 'Fame'


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - With class a rare commodity in Saturday's Breeders' Stakes, the horse who is best-suited to the distance and surface should carry the day.

That's why it could be a mistake to overlook Vie for Fame, who will be making his stakes debut in the 1 1/2-mile turf feature for owner Ivan Dalos and trainer David Bell.

Vie for Fame, unraced at 2, was sporting a $50,000 tag when he won his maiden over 1 1/16 miles in his third outing here May 20. He then finished off the board in two first-level turf allowances, at 1 1/16 miles and one mile, respectively. "We always thought he would like the turf," said Bell, "and he kind of disappointed us. But he came out of the second race with a pus pocket in his foot; it was a real deep one. It probably had bothered him in both races. When we cleared it up, he ran a big race."

That effort came July 22, when Vie for Fame stretched out to 1 3/8 miles in another entry-level allowance. With jockey Na Somsanith aboard, the colt lagged well behind the pace, 18 lengths back as the first six furlongs went in 1:12.89.

Vie for Fame then unleashed a furious rally, and was on the lead by a head through a mile clocked in 1:38.71 after running a quarter-mile in just over 22 seconds. But he ran out of gas in the latter stages and wound up second, 4 1/4 lengths behind the 4-year-old Miandad, at odds of 32-1.

"He was just sitting back there, relaxed," said Bell. "Then he just kind of jumped into the bridle, and actually dragged Na up there.

"You can be critical of Na's ride but it's the horse who's doing it, not Na. With a young horse, you don't want to stop him in mid-race.

"He's improving; that was just a green race he ran last time. His pedigree says he'll run all day - that was always what we wanted to do with him, was go long on the turf."

Mickey Walls, who won the 1996 Breeders' with Chief Bearhart, will ride Vie for Fame for the first time Saturday.

Another filly winner for Attfield?

If you're looking to history as a guide to this year's Breeders', then you'll look no further than Sweetest Thing, a filly who is trained by Roger Attfield.

Not only will Attfield be seeking his seventh win in the Breeders' but he is 3 for 3 with fillies, having clicked with Carotene in 1986, Pinafore Park in 1998, and Free Vacation in 1999.

Sweetest Thing, owned by Attfield in partnership with Mickey Canino and Bill Werner, was unraced at 2 but debuted successfully over 1 1/8 miles on turf here June 7. She then finished seventh in her allowance debut but added Lasix for her next and last start and was an impressive winner over 1 3/8 miles on the E.P. Taylor course.

"In her second race she was running very easily down the hill into the stretch but she stopped suddenly. I suspected at the time that she'd bled and she did - she bled badly, enough to stop her."

Attfield also believes Sweetest Thing's style will enable her to cope with any pace scenario that may arise Saturday. "She's shown great cruising speed, and she seems to be able to kick on at the end of it," he said.

Free Vacation scores

In what may be seen as a favorable omen, Free Vacation notched her first win of the season for Attfield, Canino, and Werner here Wednesday evening in a classified allowance at 1 1/4 miles on turf.

"I was so pleased for her," said Attfield. "It was getting a little bit disheartening, the way she was running this year, but it wasn't entirely her fault. When we shipped her out of town, the races came off the turf or she was running on bad tracks."

Free Vacation is scheduled to make her next start here in next month's $95,000 Flaming Page, a 1 1/2-mile turf race which she won last year. Attfield plans to sell her at Keeneland in November.