Coming off a record-shattering performance in the Ontario Jockey Club Stakes at seven furlongs, Sam-Son Farm's Soaring Free returns to his favorite turf course at Woodbine Saturday for the $173,400 Play the King Stakes (Can-III).
The ultimate goal for Soaring Free is the $1-million Atto Mile (Can-I) Sept. 19 at Woodbine. The 5-year-old Smart Strike
gelding will look to avenge his lone loss on the Toronto oval grass, a second-place finish by a half-length to Touch of the Blues in 2003.
In the Play the King Stakes, Soaring Free will look to add another victory to a resume that includes 11 career wins from 19 starts and $1,117,744 in earnings.
"I think he's better than last year," said conditioner Mark Frostad, who saddled Soaring Free for five wins from eight starts in 2003. "He's a very nice horse. There's no doubt about that. Anywhere from five furlongs to a mile, he's pretty deadly. I think he's world-class."
His latest accomplishment came in the Ontario Jockey Club on July 18. The 2 1/4-length score, in a time of 1:19.38, was more than four-fifths of a second faster than the then-Woodbine record posted by Wild Zone (1:20.20) on July 30, 1995. It was also a half-second faster than the North American best mark, set by Officialpermission on July 23, 2000 at Belmont Park (1:19.88).
Fashioning a record of six wins from seven trips on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, Soaring Free will look for back-to-back scores in the Play the King. He won last year's edition by 1 1/2-lengths.
Soaring Free will carry top weight of 126 pounds.
"The weight is always a factor, when you are giving away (five to 15 pounds), it's significant," offered Frostad. "Nonetheless, he's training well and we expect him to run a good race."
Todd Kabel gets the call once again from post eight.
Cat Genius, trained by Ken McPeek, is the lone American invader for the Play The King. The Western Cat colt, the second high-weight at 121 pounds, is expected to arrive at Woodbine from Saratoga early Friday morning. Brice Blanc gets the call from post four.
Stakes winner Chris's Bad Boy and up-and-comers Super Case and Dancin Joey make for an interesting field.$173,400 Play the King Stakes (Can-III), 3 & up, 7 furlongs (turf)
1. Bachelor Blues/Emile Ramsammy/Josie Carroll/112
2. Dancin Joey/James McKnight/Tony Mattine/116
3. Prince Alphie/Dino Luciani/Josie Carroll/114
4. Cat Genius/Brice Blanc/Ken McPeek/121
5. Chris's Bad Boy/Jono Jones/Vito Armata/119
6. Super Case/Robert Landry/Dan Vella/114
7. Frank's Selection/Constant Montpellier/Robert Griem/114
8. Soaring Free/Todd Kabel/Mark Frostad/126
9. Dalavin/Patrick Husbands/Audre Cappuccitti/113
10. My Lucky Strike/David Clark/John Cirillo/114
11. Lucky Tom/Chantal Sutherland/Michael Keogh/111
12. Very Professional/Slade Callaghan/Warren Wilcox/113