06/20/2005 11:00PM

Faswiga drops several rungs


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Faswiga takes a substantial drop in class from the Nassau Stakes into Thursday's Woodbine headliner, a $62,500 optional claimer going 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

Faswiga wound up second in two stakes in September, the Flaming Page and Ontario Colleen, after adding blinkers. Trainer Ian Howard gave her the winter off after she ran a clunker against males in allowance company Oct. 10.

Faswiga had a horrible trip in her season opener in a May 18 preliminary allowance, in which she was blocked behind runners nearly all the way before getting up in the final strides.

"She got in so much trouble, but still won without getting hit," Howard said. "She always looked like she was going to be a nice horse, but that's definitely the best she ever ran."

Faswiga hooked a very tough field most recently, in the Grade 2 Nassau, and finished 11th of 12 after laying far off a slow pace.

Howard said a small chip was taken out of Faswiga's ankle last fall.

"It never made her go sore," Howard said, "but it might have been bothering her just enough that she wasn't quite giving as much as she could.

"She has filled out - she's a much stronger-looking horse this year. She always showed that she had tons of ability, but once we put the blinkers on her last year, she got better. She used to get intimidated being in between horses, but she has a lot more confidence with the blinkers."

Jim McAleney will ride Faswiga for owner-breeder Luis de Hechavarria.

Nine fillies and mares have been assembled for the feature, including My Wild Rhoda, Oblivious, and Warm Rain.

My Wild Rhoda was caught late by Faswiga after leading most of the way in the May 18 allowance. She spent the winter in Florida with trainer Bev Chubb, finishing eighth in a second-level allowance at Tampa in January.

Oblivious won two in a row over the Fair Grounds grass early last year before going on the sidelines. She wasn't a factor when she came off the shelf in a March 25 optional claimer at the Fair Grounds, but was recently a clear second here after a wide trip against $62,500 opposition.

Warm Rain, the lone 3-year-old in the field, set a dawdling pace en route to an easy score in a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds on June 1.