07/31/2010 8:01AM

Californian shippers Unzip Me, Minute Limit head Royal North lineup


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Southern California invaders Unzip Me and Minute Limit are among a seven-horse field in the Grade 3, $150,000 Royal North Stakes, a six-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares on holiday Monday at Woodbine.

The speedy Unzip Me commenced a five-race win streak in an allowance in December, and then captured a second-level allowance before capturing her first stakes going about 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill at Santa Anita in the restricted Irish O’Brien.

Unzip Me made a smooth transition to graded stakes company April 11, when she took the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap , and she earned her third straight 97 Beyer Figure in the Great Lady M. Stakes on May 21. Her streak ended June 27 at Hollywood, when she finished a close third against males in the Robert Kerlan Memorial Handicap.

“They wrote her out of a race against fillies, so we had to try her against the boys,” said trainer Marty Jones. “She ran a good race.”

Jones said he believes Unzip Me is made to order for Woodbine’s turf course, which encircles the main track.

“One of the main things we like about this race is the big turn,” Jones explained. “She’s always seemed to appreciate a big turn. She has trouble with tight turns, and they have a pretty tight turn at Del Mar. The conditions fit her, so we’re going to give it a try and see how she handles it.”

Minute Limit, a closer trained by John Sadler, finished second to Unzip Me in the six-furlong Great Lady M. She was beaten a nose in her last outing at Hollywood in the Culver City Stakes.

Trainer Malcolm Pierce is running Mullins Beach, who won the six-furlong allowance prep for the Royal North, which was taken off the turf and run on the Polytrack.

Prior to the prep, Mullins Beach was a well-beaten 10th under Eurico Da Silva in her season opener on a sweltering day in the Zadracarta Stakes.

“She doesn’t handle the heat at all,” said Pierce. “It was her first start back going seven-eighths on a hot day, and Eurico had no horse at the head of the stretch, so he wrapped up on her. There was nothing physically wrong with her. It was just the heat.”

Trainer Linda Rice entered Mother Russia and Ahvee’s Destiny. Rice won the 2002 Royal North with Quick Blue, and finished second last year with Canadian Ballet.