07/08/2004 12:00AM

Nashinda back for turf debut


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Nashinda will try the turf for the first time Saturday at Woodbine in the $161,400 Ontario Damsel Stakes, a 6 1/2-furlong dash for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Nashinda might have been favored in the June 13 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, a $500,000 stakes, but she was forced to miss it, along with about 10 days of training, after coming up lame a few days before the race was drawn, according to trainer Mac Benson.

"She had a bruised foot, and we just couldn't get the bruise to come out of there," Benson said. "We stuck her in hot Epsom salts every day and did her up in a poultice. We kept doing that until we finally got the bruise out of there. She's not a big filly who needs a lot of training, so I'm not too concerned that she missed those 10 days. She's had two works since coming back. I certainly think she's fit enough."

Benson not only missed the Oaks with Nashinda, but said he also had to bypass two other possible engagements, the July 4 Bison City Stakes at Fort Erie and the Hill 'n' Dale Stakes here July 3.

Benson breezed Nashinda five-eighths in 59.40 seconds over the over the turf training course last Sunday. He said his primary reason for working Nashinda on the turf was to cover himself.

"If I ran her and she got beat, the first thing somebody would say was that I never had her on the turf before," he said. "We've got the advantage of being able to [train] here on the turf, so I got a work into her. I was very pleased with it. The first eighth was very slow; she did it all in the last half-mile."

A daughter of Silver Deputy, Nashinda is a full sister to 1998 Queen's Plate winner Archers Bay, who never ran on the turf. Her stakes-winning dam, Adorned, was an allowance winner on the grass.

Robert Landry will ride Nashinda for the first time Saturday.

Search the Church, a Holy Bull filly trained by Sid Attard, has the best grass form in the five-horse field. After winning her maiden on the dirt, she captured her turf debut in allowance company May 30. She was recently fourth against older rivals in the six-furlong Zadracarta Stakes after dueling through quick fractions.

"She should have won that last race," Attard said. "She doesn't have to be on the lead."

Attard has secured leading rider Todd Kabel for the mount on Saturday.