08/28/2005 11:00PM

Vanderlin is Balding's latest success

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Vanderlin captures the $234,000 Play the King Handicap on Saturday at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Take one stakes horse from England, of apparently moderate ability. Ship to Woodbine, add Lasix, top with Martin Dwyer, sit back and enjoy.

That's been the winning recipe for trainer Andrew Balding, who is a half-length shy of being undefeated in three stakes starts here this summer after Vanderlin upset Saturday's $234,000 at seven furlongs on turf.

Balding and Dwyer's first Woodbine visit resulted in a Canadian International win for Phoenix Reach, a first-time Lasix user, in 2003. But the outfit was not represented again here until this summer, when Silver Highlight won the $252,400 Wonder Where and Saint Etienne finished an unlucky second in the $176,800 Royal North on consecutive cards.

Silver Highlight and Saint Etienne now are based at Fort Erie with trainer Edward Freeman, and Saint Etienne has come back here to defeat overmatched allowance competition.

Vanderlin, meanwhile, will be staying at Woodbine after punching his ticket to the Grade 1, $1 million Atto Mile on Sept. 18.

"I didn't expect him to win, to be honest," said Leanne Masterton, an exercise rider who has accompanied Balding's runners on their trans-Atlantic ventures. "I thought he might run into the top three. Martin gave him a brilliant ride."

The Grade 2 Play the King represented a career highlight for Vanderlin, a 6-year-old gelding who was a listed stakes winner in England and had placed in Group 3 company.

Bourgainville next wave of invasion

Accompanying Vanderlin on his journey was Bourgainville, who is slated to run here Sept. 5 in the Grade 2, $300,000 Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf.

A 7-year-old gelding, Bourgainville has won 4 of 47 career starts and placed in a Group 3 two years ago. His last start, in a classified stakes at Sandown on Aug. 11, ended a 35-race losing streak.

Those credentials are far from overpowering, but Bourgainville has been hampered by a bleeding problem and will be on Lasix for the Niagara.

Dwyer, however, will not be in the irons as he would not be able to do justice to the 112-pound impost that Bourgainville was assigned. Freeman has been asked to recruit a substitute.

Both Vanderlin and Bourgainville are owned by Jeremy and Stephen Hitchins.

Soaring Free done for the season

Soaring Free, who finished sixth as the 9-5 favorite while seeking his third straight Play the King victory under regular rider Todd Kabel, will not see action again this season.

"He bled badly," said Mark Frostad, who trains Soaring Free for Sam-Son Farm. "Todd knew something had happened. It wasn't a very fast pace, and he was going along easily.

"He'll be going to Kentucky for some assessment; they'll give him some treatment there. I hope we'll get it cleared up. I would think he'll be back next year."

Frostad had reported that Soaring Free, a 6-year-old gelding, was hindered by an entrapped epiglottis in his last start, a second-place finish as the prohibitive favorite in the Ontario Jockey Club here July 24.

Soaring Free initially had been scheduled to undergo a corrective surgical procedure, but the problem apparently resolved itself and the operation did not take place.

"He'd come back and worked beautifully, did it easy, and scoped perfectly," said Frostad. "But, obviously there was a problem. The entrapment that time probably started something."

Soaring Free won last year's Atto Mile en route to being voted Canada's Horse of the Year and top older turf horse. He has earned more than $2.1 million.

Decew Falls to stay on turf

After the half-length victory by Decew Falls in Sunday's $125,000 Vice Regent, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds, trainer Mike Keogh began to plot his next move.

"I want to keep him on turf," said Keogh, mentioning the $125,000 Bunty Lawless, a one-mile grass race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward here Oct. 30, as a long-term target.

Emile Ramsammy, riding Decew Falls for the first time, was winning his fourth stakes of the meeting while Keogh was winning his first.

A Kentucky-bred owned by Syd Cooper's R.M.C. Stable, Decew Falls was purchased for $20,000 at Keeneland's September yearling sale. The gelding earned $75,000 on Sunday to bring his career bankroll to $124,546 from six starts.

* Allan Schaffer, a local owner and horseplayer, earned $23,512 by defeating 228 rivals in last weekend's Woodbine Thoroughbred Handicapping Challenge. Dan Kenny, a bloodstock agent based in Lexington, Ky., finished second; Edward Dixon, a music producer from Detroit, was third. Those three also earned a trip to Las Vegas for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in January.