Soaring Free Heads Play The King Cast

(from Woodbine track report)
Sam-Son Farm's Soaring Free puts his unbeaten four-race seasonal win streak on the line Saturday at Woodbine in the featured $165,000 Play The King Stakes (Can-III).

The Play The King has drawn a compact field of six for the seven furlong event over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.

Soaring Free has been assigned top weight of 121 pounds, including regular jockey Todd Kabel, who leads all Woodbine riders with 17 stakes wins this season. The 4-year-old son of Smart Strike-Dancing With Wings has been flawless this year, with two wins on the main track and two victories in his last two efforts on the grass, both in stakes races.

The Mark Frostad-trained ace was an impressive winner of the Nearctic Handicap on June 22 over six furlongs, timed in a sizzling 1:07 3/5 seconds, defeating Solitary Dancer and the million-dollar career-earning veteran Nuclear Debate by over three lengths. In his last outing July 19, the dark bay gelding coasted home three-quarters of a length in front of 2001 Atto Mile (Can-I) winner Numerous Times in the seven-furlong Ontario Jockey Club Stakes.

One of his rivals could be the aforementioned Numerous Times, trained by Sid Attard. The 6-year-old son of Numerous has been entered in two stakes on Saturday, though. In addition to the Play The King, he is also in the $100,000 With Approval Stakes, at 1 1/8 mile on the grass earlier in the card. Attard has until race day to make a decision.

Owned by the Committee Stable, Numerous Times is trying to recapture his magic of two seasons back, when he was unbeaten in three starts, including a nose decision over Affirmed Success and Quiet Resolve in a thrilling Atto Mile at Woodbine. He was subsequently scratched from the Breeders' Cup Mile in New York in the days leading up to the race and hasn't found the winner's circle since. Last year, the son of Numerous was second once in three starts. This year, he's been third, then second in his two appearances. If Numerous Times contests the Play The King, he'll carry 117 pounds with Patrick Husbands, who has ridden him in all 11 career starts.

Imports will add some spice to the Play The King. Trainer Neil Drysdale has entered Gainsborough Farm's Golden Arrow, Kiaran McLaughlin will ship Millennium Dragon to Woodbine and Jeb's Wild arrives from Monmouth Park under the care of conditioner Timothy Hills.

Golden Arrow, a 4-year-old son of Rahy, is winless in three starts this year in California, with one second and two third place finishes in allowance/optional claiming events. He'll be handled by Brice Blanc with 113 pounds. In 2000, Drysdale and Blanc combined to win the Nearctic Handicap with Kahal.

Millennium Dragon, a 4-year-old son of Mark Of Esteem, England's champion 3-year-old in 1996, won his last effort at Belmont Park, a half-length tally in a one-mile turf allowance tilt. Robert Landry has secured the mount on the Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum runner, pegged at 116 pounds.

Jeb's Wild, to be ridden by Emile Ramsammy with 114 pounds, comes into the Play The King fresh from a 1 1/2-length score in the John McSorley Stakes, a five furlong turf event at Monmouth July 6.

Completing the line-up is Frank's Selection, a winner once in three 2003 starts for trainer Robert Griem, with Pierre Mailhot aboard at 111 pounds.

Earlier in the card, the With Approval Stakes has drawn a field of eight, headed by Numerous Times, Ed Lang's multiple stakes winner Steady Ruckus and a Sam-Son Farm pair of Puffer and Lucky Old Sun.

$165,000 Play The King Stakes Handicap, 3 & up, 7 furlongs on turf
1/Golden Arrow/Neil Drysdale/Brice Blanc
2/Frank's Selection/Robert Griem/Pierre Mailhot
3/Numerous Times/Sid Attard/Patrick Husbands
4/Millennium Dragon/Kiaran McLaughlin/Robert Landry
5/Jeb's Wild/Timothy Hills/Emile Ramsammy
6/Soaring Free/Mark Frostad/Todd Kabel