10/16/2003 11:00PM

Whole new ballgame for Perfect Soul


ARCADIA, Calif. - Perfect Soul started in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Arlington Park last year almost as an afterthought following a fourth-place finish in the Canadian International. He ran about that well, finishing last of eight at 33-1.

This year, the strategy from the start has included the $1.5 million at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. Mission accomplished for owner Charles Fipke and trainer Roger Attfield.

Perfect Soul is not among the favorites in the Mile, but his win in the Shadwell Keeneland Mile on Oct. 4 makes him impossible to dismiss. In addition, Perfect Soul was third to BC Mile hopefuls Touch of the Blues and Soaring Free in the Atto Mile at Woodbine on Sept. 14.

"Last year, I said, 'Give me another year and I'll be happy about it,' "Attfield said. "At the moment, I'm very happy."

Perfect Soul, 5, is having his best season. He has won 3 of 7 starts and went past $1 million in earnings, to $1,136,215, in the Shadwell Mile.

In that race, Perfect Soul rallied wide from seventh to catch Honor in War and win by three-quarters of a length, showing a strong turn of foot.

"I really believe that he's a decent miler, and that was always my intention to work toward the Mile," Attfield said.

When Perfect Soul ran in the BC Turf last year, he was making his sixth start, having won a maiden race in his debut in June 2002.

"He's become a professional racehorse as opposed to a learning horse," Attfield said. "He didn't start running until he was 4 1/2. He's more of a focused horse."

The riding assignment on Perfect Soul is unclear, Attfield said. Edgar Prado rode Perfect Soul at Keeneland, but may be obligated to ride Peace Rules, who is also pre-entered for the Classic.

If Peace Rules starts in the Mile, Attfield would use Jose Santos, who was aboard for the Atto Mile.

Attfield said Santos was self-critical of his ride in the Atto Mile when he closed from 11th with a quarter-mile remaining to miss catching Touch of the Blues by 2 1/4 lengths.

"He learned a lot from that," Attfield said. "We were too far out of it. He made a tremendous quarter-mile move, which was too much to do."

Perfect Soul will be approximately 15-1 for the Mile, which is led by the European invaders Oasis Dream and Six Perfections and California stakes winners Designed for Luck and Special Ring.

The race was oversubscribed with 17 runners, but will have a limit of 14. Run over a seven-furlong course, the Mile will have a run of a little more than a furlong and a half to the first turn.

"That's the worst part about running there," Attfield said.

The Mile will be Perfect Soul's first start in California on a turf course certain to be firm.

"My main concern is that he will be running on a surface that he's not familiar with," Attfield said. "We're not going to worry about that until it happens. We just hope that he enjoys it."

Perfect Soul is one of two Canadian-trained hopefuls for the Mile.

Soaring Free, fourth in the Shadwell Mile, worked five furlongs at Keeneland on Friday in 59.60 seconds, according to trainer Mark Frostad. Soaring Free has remained at Keeneland since the Shadwell Mile and will be shipped to California on Tuesday.

"It's very difficult to go on the form from Canada, but he's beaten some nice horses," Frostad said. "The mile is the limit of his distance that he can be effective with these kind of horses."