09/15/2005 11:00PM

A to the Z finds calling on turf

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It is no secret that pedigree plays the most important role when determining whether a racehorse will move up on the grass. Most of the entrants for Sunday's $1 million Atto Mile at Woodbine sport some of the most popular grass bloodlines in the world.

One of the contenders, the California-bred gelding A to the Z, only discovered turf racing nine races ago, and although you have to dig deep to find his strong grass pedigree, a close look makes you wonder why it took so long for him to land on the turf.

A $5,000 yearling purchase, A to the Z's early years were spent in claiming races and in faraway locations such as New Mexico's Sunland Park. It wasn't until he made his turf debut in the Dallas Turf Cup last June at Lone Star Park that he showed his true talent. Sent off at 41-1, A to the Z gave his backers a thrill, finishing a close third to Maysville Slew and Star Over the Bay and improving on his previous best Beyer Speed Figure by 17 points.

A 5-year-old chestnut son of Benchmark-Green Again, by Replant, A to the Z has been a turf horse ever since. His best effort was a half-length loss to Atto Mile favorite Leroidesanimaux in the Grade 1 Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park last November.

Benchmark, a multiple Grade 2 winner in California and a son of Alydar, never ran on the grass, but he is out of the Danzig mare Winters' Love, the dam of several grass stakes horses, including Grade 1 winner Tranquility Lake, the dam of the $9.7 million yearling sold at Keeneland on Sept. 13.

The aptly named Green Again won nine races on the grass and produced the stakes winner Fade to Blue, an eight-time turf winner.

Sophia's Prince also hidden turf

The lone Atto starter who has not won on the grass also has some hidden turf breeding.

Sophia's Prince, a homebred gelding owned by Joan Agro, is by Grade 1 winner Schossberg, a son of Broad Brush.

The dam of Sophia's Prince, Fair Ascot, is by Danzig's son Ascot Knight, a top Canadian grass sire, and Sophia's Prince's third dam, Tentamara, is by multiple Grade 1 turf winner Tentam, long a top grass sire.

Chiefswood makes noise at Keeneland

Robert and Mark Krembil's Chiefswood Stable, which won its first graded stakes race when Fifth Overture won the Sept. 10 Seaway Stakes, picked up three fillies during the first two sessions of Keeneland's September yearling sale, including a $1 million baby by Gone West.

The bay miss is the second foal of the stakes-placed Cox's Ridge mare Candleinthedark, a granddaughter of Buckpasser's 1991 Broodmare of the Year, Toll Booth.

The Krembils also paid $500,000 for a Distorted Humor filly and $425,000 for a daughter of A.P. Indy.

Gus Schickedanz, owner and breeder of Atto Mile starter Mobil, sold a Canadian-bred Danzig colt out of stakes winner Dake for $500,000.

On the third day of the sale, Bob Anderson sold a Canadian-bred filly by Street Cry-Rare Opportunity for $400,000, and Three Chimneys Sales sold the Ontario-bred second foal of Canadian champion Gandria for $200,000.

D. Morgan Firestone, fresh from purchasing the co-sales toppers for $190,000 each at the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's yearling sale a week ago, paid $350,000 for a Canadian-bred colt by Deputy Minister out of stakes-placed Embur Sunshine.

Canadian-bred yearlings were pricey at Keeneland, including a Smoke Glacken colt out of stakes producer Destroy that sold for $435,000 and a Buddha colt out of Canadian stakes winner Barbed Wire that sold for $390,000.