07/06/2004 11:00PM

Moment of Peace took to the turf

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Moment of Peace was supplemented to the Labatt Woodbine Oaks, but when it appeared that task would be too demanding, her trainer, Steve Owens, wasted no time in changing direction.

Moment of Peace switched to turf, and, following a game victory in a first-level allowance over one mile here on June 2, the filly will try to become a stakes winner in Saturday's $125,000 Ontario Damsel.

The Ontario Damsel, a 6 1/2-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, is expected to be the turf debut of Nashinda, who would have been one of the favorites for the June 13 Oaks but was sidelined by a bruised foot.

"Nashinda's a lovely filly," said Owens. "I watched her work on the turf the other day, and she worked quite well. But, I'm very confident in my filly."

The Empress Stable, which is the nom du course of Owens's wife, Beverley, and mother-in-law, Mildred Lewis, own and bred Moment of Peace.

"She's a half-sister to Legal Heir," Owens said. "He was a really good turf horse."

Legal Heir, who placed in two stakes on turf, is a painful memory for Owens, who watched the gelding win very impressively here on Aug. 3, 2002, only to perish in the fire that engulfed his barn the following morning.

Both Legal Heir and Moment of Peace are out of Easy to Praise, who was claimed for $25,000 here in 1996 and got the Owens family started in the breeding business.

Moment of Peace, by turf specialist Explosive Red, raced once at 2, winning a maiden special over 6 1/2 furlongs of slop. But after returning from a winter in Florida this spring, she failed to seriously menace in two entry-level allowance races.

"She had really bad gastric ulcers when we first came back from Florida," said Owens. "It took a long time to get them under control. Now, she's really blossoming. She's coming to this race in good shape."

Owens sent out Moment of Peace for a three-furlong blowout in 35.60 seconds on the "good" main track here Wednesday.

La Grande Mamma might wait

Owens has a second Ontario Damsel candidate in La Grande Mamma, but was still on the fence Wednesday regarding her participation.

La Grande Mamma, who races for Don Lebowitz, was a smart winner at seven furlongs on turf here July 1 in an allowance for Ontario-sired nonwinners of three.

The quick comeback is an obvious concern for Owens, who also would not want to compromise La Grande Mamma's chances for the July 28 Passing Mood Stakes.

The $125,000 Passing Mood is a seven-furlong turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

R Little Ruckus prepares for Nandi

Owens claimed La Grande Mamma for $25,000 from her winning debut here last July and sent her out three weeks later to win the $137,375 Nandi.

This year, the stable has another Nandi contender in R Little Ruckus, a homebred who races for G.G. Racing Stables. The $125,000 Nandi, a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies, will be run here Aug. 8.

R Little Ruckus won the first 2-year-old race of the year, at 4 1/2 furlongs in the slop here May 8, and passed up the opportunity to run in last Sunday's My Dear.

"It's a long time since her maiden win, but she's been working regularly," said Owens. "She's a grand little 2-year-old Ontario-sired filly."

Tic Tac Man heads Friday feature

Tic Tac Man, undefeated in two local appearances, is the horse to beat here Friday in a second-level allowance for nonwinners of three.

The seven-furlong feature, which attracted eight entrants, is the ninth of 10 races and offers a purse of $65,600.

Tic Tac Man, a 4-year-old owned by William Schettine, was bred in Australia and began his career in California. The horse was obviously on his game when he arrived here in May.

Both of Tic Tac Man's victories have come at seven furlongs, the distance of Friday's feature, with his maiden and first-level allowance scores accomplished almost effortlessly.

"He just does everything right," said his trainer, Josis Carroll, who also had nominated Tic Tac Man to Sunday's 6 1/2-furlong Bold Venture Handicap and would have run him there if Friday's allowance had not filled.

"He's a very attractive horse," Carroll said. "He's very laid-back; he does what he has to do."

Carroll has a second entrant for Friday's headliner in Estevan, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old who finished a close second in the six-furlong Woodstock here April 24 and then ran third against older rivals at six furlongs on turf on June 10.

"I've been getting very frustrated," said Carroll. "I've entered him numerous times in straight 3-year-old races and they aren't filling. He's doing great - he just needs to run."

Two Carroll stakes hopefuls work

Da Cardinal and Kiss Me Twice, a couple of Carroll runners with an eye toward possible stakes appearances, worked on the main track Wednesday.

Da Cardinal, a homebred who races for Earl Daynes, drilled five furlongs in 1:00 and is pointing for the $150,000 Clarendon, a 5 1/2-furlong race for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds here July 18.

After winning at first asking over 4 1/2 furlongs of slop here May 9, Da Cardinal came back to finish third in the five-furlong Victoria on June 26.

Kiss Me Twice, who worked six furlongs in 1:13.20, is nominated to the Grade 3, $150,000 Dance Smartly, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares here July 17.

A 5-year-old Florida-bred owned by Franks Farms, Kiss Me Twice joined Carroll's string here this spring after making the first 22 starts of her career in New Jersey and Florida.