09/02/2005 12:00AM

Will the next Soaring Free step forward?


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Soaring Free led an Ontario sweep of the 2004 Atto Mile as runners based in the province took down the top five spots.

But with Soaring Free sidelined after bleeding badly in the recent Play the King Handicap, a new local star will have to emerge if Ontario is to win this year's Sept. 18 renewal of the Grade 1, $1 million turf race for 3-year-olds and up.

The likeliest candidates for that role are Royal Regalia, who was beaten less than a length as the third-place finisher in last year's Atto Mile, and Le Cinquieme Essai, who was beaten a head as the runner-up to English invader Vanderlin in the seven-furlong Play the King here on Aug. 27.

Royal Regalia, a 7-year-old gelding owned and bred by Team Stronach and trained by Justin Nixon, had been looking to use last year's Atto Mile as a springboard to the Breeders' Cup Mile at Lone Star Park last Oct. 30. But though he was pre-entered for the Mile, Royal Regalia did not crack the starting lineup and had to settle for a victory in a Breeders' Cup Day supporting feature.

Royal Regalia has raced only once since then, an impressive victory in a classified allowance over 1 1/16 miles on turf here July 28.

Nixon considered starting Royal Regalia in Saratoga's Fourstardave on Aug. 27, a race in which he had finished third last year in his Atto Mile tune-up, but decided in the end against that course.

"We wanted to take a different approach this year," said Nixon. "Last year, we used the Fourstardave as a gauge to see what we had.

"He'd never been tested in a stakes race, and we were considering going to the Atto Mile and wanted to see if it would be a waste of time.

"This time, we know what kind of horse we have. And, he runs well fresh."

Le Cinquieme Essai hits peak form

Le Cinquieme Essai, owned and bred by Bill Scott and trained by Paul Nielsen, has been displaying the best form of his career this year at age 6. The gelding has started 22 times but earned his only triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in his last two starts - a 101 in the Play the King followed by a 100 for winning the Daryl Wells Sr. Memorial over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Fort Erie.

"We're going to take a bit of a chance and see what happens," said Nielsen. "He's stepping up in company. It's going to be a little tougher, but a mile is the perfect distance for him.

"He came out of his last race really, really well. He'll run his race; he tries so hard. He's just a solid horse."

Vanderlin becomes first Atto arrival

Vanderlin, who has been on the grounds since Aug. 19, has the distinction of being this year's first shipper for the Atto Mile.

The second Atto Mile invader arrived Thursday evening as A to the Z, who is based in California, checked in from California via Ohio along with trainer Paula Capestro and groom Miguel Aijala.

A to the Z, a 5-year-old gelding, turned in his best career effort in the Grade 1 Citation at Hollywood Park last November when finishing a closing second, beaten a half-length by the still streaking Leroidesanimaux, over 1 1/16 miles on turf.

In his last scheduled start, A to the Z was the even-money choice for Aug. 6 Joseph T. Grace Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Santa Rosa, but stumbled at the start and lost his rider.

Shippers target Niagara BC Handicap

Three out-of-towners are among the nine entrants for Monday's Grade 2, $334,200 Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward.

Bourgainville, a stablemate and traveling companion of Vanderlin's, will be making his North American debut and his first start with Lasix in the Niagara.

Due in from Saratoga are Revved Up, trained by Christophe Clement, and Provincetown, trained by Patrick Biancone.

Revved Up will be making his second appearance in the Niagara, having finished second to Strut the Stage here in 2003. This year, at age 7, Revved Up has won 3 of 4 starts with his latest win coming in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on the turf at Arlington Park on July 3.

Brice Blanc, who rode Revved Up that day, retains the mount.

Provincetown, a New York-bred 5-year-old gelding, got his lone career victory when facing fellow New York-breds in the Ashley T. Cole Handicap over 1 1/8 miles of turf at Belmont last September.

Most recently, Provincetown ran third in the restricted Troy Handicap, a one-mile turf race at Saratoga on Aug. 20. Gary Stevens, who rode Provincetown for the first time that day, has the call here Monday.

Doc O Dynamite in for Asmussen

Monday's supporting feature, the $106,000 Silver Deputy, also attracted an out-of-towner in Doc O Dynamite, who is trained by Steve Asmussen.

The 6 1/2-furlong Silver Deputy, an overnight stakes for 2-year-olds, attracted six entrants.

Doc O Dynamite was an impressive winner in his only start, earning a Beyer Figure of 89 for a romp in a five-furlong maiden special at Saratoga Aug. 3.

Palladio off to Saratoga for Saranac

Palladio shipped out Friday morning for his engagement in Saratoga's Grade 3, $100,000 Saranac, a 1 3/16-mile turf race on Sunday.

A Florida-bred 3-year-old trained by Roger Attfield, Palladio this year has won Woodbine's Victoria Park and Thistledown's Grade 2 Ohio Derby, both over 1 1/8 miles on the dirt. Jose Santos will ride for the first time.

Jambalaya, based here with trainer Catherine Day Phillips, checked into Saratoga for the Saranac on Tuesday evening. Jono Jones, who piloted Jambalaya to victory in the $500,000 Breeders' over 1 1/2 miles on the turf here last time out, retains the mount.

* Woodbine will be offering simulcast wagering on Monday's Pennsylvania Derby from Philadelphia Park. Post time for the Pennsylvania Derby will be approximately 5:05 p.m.