11/22/2002 12:00AM

Young Attard thinks he's ready to move up

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Kevin Attard enjoyed a successful meeting at Fort Erie this year, which was his first full campaign as a trainer.

Attard, the 26-year-old son of trainer Tino Attard, saddled 34 winners and 86 in-the-money finishers from 186 starters, good for earnings of $546,149 and fourth place in the standings.

But Attard does not plan to return to Fort Erie next year, and already has embarked on a new phase of his career by hanging out his shingle as a public trainer here at Woodbine.

"I went to Fort Erie for Frank Stronach," said Attard. "They asked me to go, and I did that for them. I gave it a go.

"For my first year there, I thought I did good. It's a good place, but hopefully I can get a chance here with better horses."

After serving as an assistant trainer to his father here for four years, Attard left in June 2001 for a position at Stronach's nearby Adena Springs North, where his main responsibility was training the outfit's 2-year-olds.

Attard saddled two stakes winners for Stronach Stable here in his rookie campaign, Jade Eyed in the Nandi and El Soprano in the Summer, before rejoining his father for a stint at Aqueduct last winter.

But the end of his term at Fort Erie also marks the end of Kevin Attard's association with Team Stronach. The trainer's current clients include Bruno Schickedanz, who had sent him 19 horses at Fort Erie at the end of July.

Attard has four horses here for Schickedanz, including Valedictory Handicap nominee C B Stu.

As an 8-year-old gelding whose wins this year came for $4,500 and $5,000 tags at Fort Erie, C B Stu may seem an unlikely prospect for the $125,000 Valedictory, the 1 3/4-mile marathon that is one of the closing-day co-features here Dec. 1.

But Attard may bank on distance being the great equalizer and notes that C B Stu actually would be shortening up for the Valedictory after finishing a closing third in Fort Erie's annual starter allowance endurance test at two miles and 70 yards, known as the Tour de Fort.

"He's training very well, and doing very well," said Attard. "We might give it a crack. If there was any time to try, this would be it."

Valedictory could contain family rivalry

Kevin Attard could find himself facing a familiar opponent in the Valedictory. Queensgate, trained by his father, Tino, and owned by his mother, Carmen, will be looking to defend his title after scoring by three lengths over favored A Fleets Dancer in last year's running.

Queensgate, a 6-year-old gelding, has made his last four starts on the grass, with his best effort a fast-closing second-place finish in the 1 1/4-mile Chief Bearhart here Sept. 29.

In his latest outing, the Grade 2 Sky Classic here Oct. 27, Queensgate faltered to finish ninth under regular rider Gerry Olguin after having difficulty with the soft going.

'Deputy' tries to turn tables on Santerra

Tino Attard will be looking to register a mild upset when he sends out Deputy Cures Blues for Sunday's Ontario Lassie, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies.

Deputy Cures Blues, owned by Herbert Chambers, is coming off a second-place finish to Lassie favorite Santerra, who was a front-running 3 1/2-length winner of the 1 1/16-mile South Ocean here Oct. 30.

"Nobody ran with [Santerra]," said Attard, who noted that the track had favored front-runners on the evening of the South Ocean. "We just sat there, and thought she was going to stop, but she kept going."

Deputy Cures Blues also will be adding blinkers Sunday and worked well with the new equipment under Olguin, her regular rider, here Nov. 10.

"Gerry said she worked much better; she really took hold of the bit," said Attard.

Zone Judge considered for Kennedy Road

Zone Judge, winner of the Grade 3 Play the King Handicap over seven furlongs of turf here Aug. 17, drilled five furlongs in 1:01 on the fast main track Friday and could run in the $125,000 Kennedy Road Stakes here Nov. 30.

The six-furlong Kennedy Road is expected to attract a strong field, including Wake at Noon, Krz Ruckus, and Wild Whiskey.

"I might try him in there, rather than shipping him away and running him on the grass somewhere," said Dave Dwyer, who trains Zone Judge for owner Winston Penny. "I don't like shipping horses this time of the year."

Zone Judge, a 4-year-old colt, has made his last four starts on the grass but won in his last main track appearance here June 12.

Chopinina may go to Hong Kong

Chopinina, runner-up in the Grade 1 Atto Mile here Sept. 8 and a Sovereign Award candidate in the filly and mare turf category, breezed five furlongs on the main track in 1:02.20 here Friday in preparation for a possible trip to Hong Kong.

Chopinina, a 4-year-old filly owned and bred by the Knob Hill Stable of Steve Stavro, has been nominated to the Dec. 15 Hong Kong Mile, but must be invited to participate.

"Hopefully, we'll get to go," said trainer Alec Fehr, who will learn of Chopinina's fate Wednesday. "She's doing well. I'm happy with the way things are going."

El Gran Maestro preps for Kingarvie

El Gran Maestro, who is nominated to the $125,000 Kingarvie Stakes, worked six furlongs in 1:14.80 on the fast training track Friday.

The Kingarvie, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds, shares top billing with the Valedictory on the closing-day card.

El Gran Maestro, owned by Fieldstone Farm and trained by Jake Nemett, is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Coronation Futurity, a 1 1/8 mile race for Canadian-breds.