09/13/2005 11:00PM

Vanderlin, unfamiliar invader, takes proven path to Atto Mile


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Soaring Free used last year's Play the King Handicap as a stepping-stone to victory in the Grade 1 Atto Mile here at Woodbine.

On Sunday, Vanderlin will be attempting to follow that same blueprint when he goes postward in the $1 million Atto Mile over the E.P. Taylor turf course.

But the similarity between the two Play the King winners ends right there.

Soaring Free won the Play the King as the 3-5 favorite for the highly successful local team of Sam-Son Farm, trainer Mark Frostad, and jockey Todd Kabel.

Vanderlin had shipped over from England and was just the fourth Woodbine starter for trainer Andrew Balding when he won this year's Play the King, at seven furlongs on turf on Aug. 27.

Balding's earlier representatives here were Phoenix Reach, winner of the 2003 Canadian International; Silver Highlight, winner of the Wonder Where here July 31; and Saint Etienne, an unlucky second in the Grade 3 Royal North on Aug. 1.

All were first-time Lasix users and were ridden by Martin Dwyer, who is slated to be back on Vanderlin for the Atto Mile and also has the call on Santiago Star, a Balding-trained 2-year-old who checked in earlier this week for Sunday's Grade 2, $250,000 Summer Stakes at one mile on turf.

Exercise rider Leanne Masterton has accompanied all of the Balding stable's runners this year, returning with Vanderlin and stablemate Bourgainville on Aug. 19 and staying on to prepare for the Atto Mile.

On Wednesday morning, Masterton took out Vanderlin for a five-furlong gallop on the training track in company with Bourgainville, who had Patrick Grant in the irons.

Bourgainville has been the outfit's lone bust at the meeting, faltering to finish eighth in the Grade 2 Niagara Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf here Sept. 5.

"They were going so fast early, he was never going to finish," said Masterton. "He runs over a mile and a half at home and only just gets it."

Bourgainville is back in the entries here Saturday, but in more modest company. The 7-year-old gelding has been entered for the $80,000 claiming price in a third-level allowance/optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

"He'll have a bit more confidence Saturday," said Masterton.

Cherry Grove gets second try on turf

Cherry Grove, trained by David Bell, will be seeking her first stakes victory in Saturday's $125,000 La Prevoyante, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies that attracted a field of seven.

Cherry Grove, owned by Melnyk Racing Stable and Iris Bristow, won her maiden at a mile and 70 yards here Aug. 11 and followed up with a third-place finish in the Eternal Search, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies on Aug. 31.

"She seemed to take awhile to put things together," said Bell. "But her last two races, she's kind of improved a lot."

In her lone turf outing, at one mile here July 2, Cherry Grove finished a rallying second.

"She was unlucky when she ran on turf," said Bell. "She got stopped early, and was shuffled back and shuffled back. Then she made a huge run. I thought she could have won that day."

Todd Kabel, who has been aboard for her last two starts, retains the mount on Cherry Grove.

Bell has two for allowance

Bell also will send out the formidable pair of Schooner Bay and Victorious Ami in a 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance race for fillies and mares on Friday's program.

The two are not coupled, but Schooner Bay runs in an entry with Melnyk Racing stablemate Cottage Link, an impressive last-out maiden winner trained by Mark Casse.

Schooner Bay, a 4-year-old, had a three-race win streak snapped when she was beaten a half-length as the runner-up in an unrestricted first-level allowance at Friday's distance.

Victorious Ami, owned by Ivan Dalos, competed in all three legs of Canada's triple tiara for 3-year-old fillies, finishing third in both the 1 1/8-mile Labatt Woodbine Oaks and Fort Erie's 1 1/16-mile Bison City before ending up eighth here in the Wonder Where.

The Wonder Where, a 1 1/4-mile turf race on July 31, was Victorious Ami's last start, and she comes into Friday's race off back-to-back bullet works at five furlongs.

"She's working really well, and she looks great right now," said Bell. "We just backed up and gave her a bit of a breather.

"She's been kind of a hard luck-filly, running into toughies. She needs some confidence."

River Nore skips La Prevoyante

River Nore, who was among the La Prevoyante nominees, instead will compete in the second race here Friday.

Winner of the seven-furlong Fury here this May, River Nore just missed in a 6 1/2-furlong nonwinners-of-three allowance for Ontario-sired fillies and mares last time out. On Friday, River Nore faces similar at six furlongs for owner-breeder Ormonde Farm and trainer Reade Baker.

All Star Lover has ability to stalk

All Star Lover faltered to finish 10th last time out in the Play the King, but has shown the ability to rally from just off the pace on occasion. Such tactics should stand him in good stead in Friday's optional claiming feature.

The 6 1/2-furlong turf race, which goes as the eighth of nine on the program, has attracted a field of 10. The third-level allowance has an optional claiming price of $77,500 to $80,000.

Leading rider Emma Wilson retains the mount on All Star Lover, a 6-year-old gelding trained by Peter Berringer.

* Gilllian Luxton, a longtime Ontario owner and breeder who died at age 63 on Sept. 9, will be remembered at a reception here Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Northern Dancer Room.