08/03/2005 12:00AM

Nashinda gives turf another try


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Nashinda, who was scratched from Monday's Grade 3 Royal North Handicap, heads Friday's Woodbine feature, an allowance race that two in the field will use as a prep for the Aug. 21 Victoriana Stakes.

The one-mile turf event has lured an excellent field of seven fillies and mares, including Ambitious Cat, Kabul, and Financingavailable.

Nashinda won a pair of sprint stakes - the Whimsical and Grade 3 Hendrie - in her first two outings of the year. Last out, she experimented around two turns on June 18 in the Ontario Matron Handicap, and faded to fourth after dueling through slow fractions.

Nashinda finished fifth and last in her lone grass attempt, in the 2004 Ontario Damsel. She was shelved for the year after that July 10 stakes because of bone bruises, and trainer Mac Benson believes it wasn't a true read of her ability on the grass.

"I don't think she would have run good on anything then," he said.

Nashinda breezed five-eighths over the turf training course in a bullet 57 seconds July 24.

Ambitious Cat, an expensive 4-year-old filly by Storm Cat, was second in three consecutive races after winning a first-level allowance in March at Gulfstream. She was a fast-closing second to Que Puntual in the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes, and was recently a troubled fourth in the Grade 3 Dance Smartly Handicap.

Trainer Eric Coatrieux said Ambitious Cat was late to mature because of some physical and mental problems she had last year.

"She had a few issues when she was a 3-year-old," Coatrieux said. "She hit the rail in an allowance race, but she seemed okay after that. She ran back in the Hill 'n' Dale Stakes, and she wasn't right after that. We stopped on her for the rest of the year because she had a stress fracture in her tibia.

"She didn't need an operation," he added. "She just needed time, so we gave her some. Everything's been extremely good ever since then."

Kabul won the six-furlong allowance prep for the Royal North but bypassed the race itself. She has banked $609,729 without winning a stakes, and is one of just two runners in the field eligible for the Victoriana, an Ontario sire stakes.

Financingavailable is the other Ontario-sired runner in the lineup. She romped in a $62,500 optional claiming sprint on the main track July 17, and could give Nashinda a tussle on the front end.