04/28/2002 11:00PM

'Grassa' returns in route

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Grassa Donna, lightly raced since she nearly captured a stakes here two years ago, returns from an extended layoff in Wednesday's sixth race at Woodbine, a $62,500 optional claimer for fillies and mares.

Grassa Donna, a Bruno Schickedanz homebred, lost the 2000 La Lorgnette Stakes by a neck after leading until deep stretch. She subsequently won a first-level allowance route late in the 2000 Woodbine meeting, but then went on hiatus.

Grassa Donna, who spent her formative years with trainer John Alec Fehr, was turned over to trainer Abraham Katryan last spring. Katryan ran her just once in 2001, on June 30, when she finished second in an $80,000 optional claimer.

Katryan said Grassa Donna has had her share of problems.

"She had some time off because we had to do some work on her," Katryan said. "She had a few problems, and we had some surgery done on her. She's come back good, and we have to start her somewhere. She's been galloping strongly in the mornings, but going 1 1/16 miles the first time is a different ball game, and it may take her a couple of races to get going."

Emile Ramsammy, who won Saturday's Vigil Handicap on board Wake at Noon for Katryan and Schickedanz, has the mount on Grassa Donna.

Rounding out the sixth-race field will be Cosa Rara, Charming Melody, Hasty Kiss, Night Edition, Langano, Sugar Kick, Princess Vye, and Niki Nikininedoors.

Cosa Rara, a gritty 4-year-old, should be prominent in her second appearance following six-month vacation. A five-time winner in seven starts last year, Cosa Rara was fourth over a muddy track in her seven-furlong seasonal bow at this level.

Tino Attard trains Cosa Rara for Six Brothers Stable and Carmen Attard.

Charming Melody has been freshened since she led all the way in a 1 1/16-mile preliminary allowance at Gulfstream on March 3. A $50,000 claim by trainer Sandy McPherson last fall, Charming Melody has a fitness edge on most of her rivals, and could give Grassa Donna a tussle on the front end.

California shipper Princess Vye comes off a third-place finish in the Sacramento Handicap at Golden Gate Fields. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 91 winning her next-to-last outing, in a $40,000 optional claimer, and is making her first start for trainer Lorne Richards.

Front-runners Press Exclusive, Turner's Hall, and Dreams Go Bye will lock horns in the second event on the eight-race card, an $80,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares.

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