09/19/2006 12:00AM

Dame Eliza can get over hump


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Dame Eliza has been getting closer to winning at the first allowance category, and she could turn the trick in the ninth and final race on Thursday's Woodbine card. A field of 15 fillies and mares was drawn for the one-mile grass event, which carries a purse of $69,100.

Trained by John LeBlanc Jr. for owner Chris Fung, Dame Eliza finished a close second on July 1 in her first grass outing of the year, losing to Arctic Laur, who came back to take the minor Passing Mood Stakes.

Dame Eliza subsequently captured an Ontario-sired allowance going 1 1/8 miles, defeating Whiskey Swish, who has since won twice. In her first attempt in open allowance company going 1 1/4 miles Aug. 19, Dame Eliza made a premature inside move on the far turn and flattened out in the final furlong, ending up third.

Dame Eliza shortened up to 1 1/16 miles most recently and rallied strongly from far back to finish a half-length behind favored Provocative Touch.

Slade Callaghan, who was aboard when Dame Eliza ran fourth in the 2005 La Prevoyante Stakes, retains the mount.

Other possibilities in the feature include Feistee Deer, Princess Avalon, Pleasant Quality, and Ryella.

Feistee Deer has won two $40,000 claimers on grass at the meeting. Trained by Reade Baker, she beat a weak nonwinners-of-two field going a mile June 10, earning an 81 Beyer Speed Figure, and she recently beat nonwinners-of-three opposition at six furlongs.

Princess Avalon had a lucrative 2005 campaign, winning 4 of 9 starts for earnings of $148,014. She was mired in a slump this year before she won her last outing, a $40,000 claimer that was taken off the grass and moved to the all-weather surface.

Pleasant Quality won her maiden going about a mile on the grass at Arlington in June, before finishing ninth there in the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap. She was never in the hunt when she experimented on the Polytrack here Sept. 4 in the restricted Algoma Stakes.

Alberta shipper Ryella is making her grass debut, and she has an intriguing pedigree. A daughter of successful turf sire Cozzene, Ryella is out of a stakes-placed runner in Ireland who is a half-sister to Group 1 winner Ad Valorem, the third-place finisher in last Sunday's Grade 1 Woodbine Mile.

Ryella, who took 11 starts to win her maiden, is coming off a third-place finish in an optional claimer at Northlands Park.