Play The King Ace Keeps Soaring Free Sky High

Sam-Son Farm's Soaring Free capped a perfect stakes day for his owner, trainer Mark Frostad and jockey Todd Kabel with a convincing one and one-half length score in the $165,000 Play The King Stakes (Can-III) Saturday at Woodbine.

Sent postward the 4-5 favorite over five rivals, Soaring Free stalked the pace of longshot Jeb's Wild until the turn for home, then comfortably glided away in the late stages, keeping his undefeated record this year intact. He's now five-for-five, including three stakes wins, in 2003.

Jeb's Wild, at 16-1, hung on for second, while another longshot, 37-1 Frank's Selection, finished third.

The time for the seven-furlong turf event over a yielding E.P. Taylor Turf Course was 1:23.52.

Earlier in the card, Sam-Son, Frostad and Kabel combined to win the $108,000 With Approval Stakes with Puffer.

"I was watching Todd take a pretty good hold, trying to rate (Soaring Free) a little bit," said Frostad, about the Play The King. "It seemed he was in pretty good shape all the way around. In fact I was getting a little antsy. I was saying 'let him go a little bit.' But he ran a super race. Todd rode him very well. (Soaring Free) can stalk and he did that today."

Looking at Woodbine's upcoming $1 million Atto Mile (Can-I) Sept. 14, a race Sam-Son won in 1999 with Quiet Resolve, Frostad added, "That's what we've been pointing for all year. The outcome of his last few races says he probably deserves a shot in there. I think he'll be pretty tough. The more seasoning they get, the smarter they get. He's used to winning now and I think he kind of likes that. He's becoming much more professional."

Soaring Free carried top weight of 121 pounds in notching his seven career victory in 11 starts. The 4-year-old son of Smart Strike-Dancing With Wings has only been worse than second once, a fifth place finish last year in the Perryville Stakes at Keeneland. He was gelded over the winter and has returned to the track an even better runner this season.

"He was excellent today," said Kabel, now with a colony-high 19 stakes wins this season. "I was worried coming off his last race (The Ontario Jockey Club Stakes July 19). He wasn't quite himself. But in the post parade today he was perfect. He was a lot more relaxed. He ran a tremendous race. I'm pretty sure he'll handle a mile without a problem. We always thought this horse had a lot of talent. I'm just thankful Mark did geld him because that was definitely the stepping stone for this horse and turned him into a racehorse."

Soaring Free banked $99,000 for the win to push his career earnings to $528,682.

He paid $3.70, $2.80 and $2.40, combining with Jeb's Wild ($7.70, $5.40) for a $40.60 exacta. Frank's Selection ($4.80) completed a $266.40 trifecta.

(Chart, Equibase)