07/03/2008 11:00PM

Damsel duo no experts on the turf


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The recent stakes winners in Sunday's $150,000 Ontario Damsel Stakes at Woodbine, Anne's Purse and Shilla, are both light on turf experience, which has made the 6 1/2-furlong grass sprint for 3-year-old fillies quite contentious.

Anne's Purse captured her first two starts on the front end by a combined total of 10 1/4 lengths, including the restricted Lady Angela Stakes.

Most recently, Anne's Purse was the 1-2 favorite in an allowance for Ontario-sired runners, but she finished a weary fourth after failing to make the early lead. Trainer Earl Barnett believes that subpar showing was the result of several abscesses in her mouth.

"She probably had them during the race," Barnett said. "They've been cleared up. Now, she's easier to handle. We're hoping that we're back on track."

Anne's Purse will be making her turf debut in the Damsel. She has worked twice over the turf training course under jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva.

"She's only been on the turf a few times, but she's been very good on it," said Barnett. "The first time, we just let her get a feel for it. She stayed out in the middle of the course, away from the cones. The last time, she breezed a half in 47 around the cones. She galloped out real strong. Eurico assured me that she's as good or better on turf than she is on the Polytrack."

Shilla won her first two starts of the year in a pair of sprint stakes. She was never a factor last month in the nine-furlong Woodbine Oaks, and trailed in the 12-horse field.

Trainer Nick Gonzalez believes the hot and humid weather leading up to the Oaks was the main reason why Shilla came up empty in the race. He said she has done well since then.

"We gave her a couple of nice breezes after the Oaks," said Gonzalez. "I don't see any reason why she won't be good to go. I'm hoping the temperature doesn't get crazy like it did on Oaks Day."

Shilla beat maidens over six furlongs the only time she tried the grass, which came in her second start at 2.

"She ran a great race that day," Gonzalez recalled. "She never got clear until late. Even though she only won by a neck, I don't think David Clark touched her with the whip. I can't wait to get her back on the turf."

Trainer Mark Casse entered front-runner Gloriously and closer Nite in Rome.