05/15/2005 11:00PM

Nashinda may stretch out for Matron start

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Nashinda dominates the George C. Hendrie Handicap with a 4 1/4 length victory at Woodbine on Sunday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Nashinda's first two campaigns were cut short by injury, but the filly has returned stronger than ever this season.

On Sunday, Nashinda dominated the George C. Hendrie Handicap, leading through every step of the 6 1/2 furlongs en route to a 4 1/4-length victory that yielded a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 100.

Nashinda, owned and bred by George Strawbridge and trained by Mac Benson, became the first horse to win two stakes at the meeting, having captured the six-furlong Whimsical in her April 17 seasonal bow.

"She only was about half-fit for her first race," said Benson. "She trained terrifically in between.

"By all standards, I thought she should run as big a race as can be run on Sunday. She didn't let us down."

Benson will be conferring with Strawbridge but said that the tentative plan is to run Nashinda in the $125,000 Ontario Matron Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares here June 18.

"I really think she'll stretch out," said Benson. "When I ran her a mile and a sixteenth last year she handled it well."

Nashinda defeated older rivals here last May in her only previous start around two turns, which came in a second-level allowance.

Fine comeback for the champ

The Matron also is the target of One for Rose, who finished a good second making her first start of the season in the Hendrie.

One for Rose, a 6-year-old who has collected back-to-back Sovereign Awards in the older filly-mare category, won last year's Matron, and the Hendrie distance was the shortest she has attempted in her 23-start career.

"Everything was against her," said Sid Attard, who trains One for Rose for Tucci Stable. "She had the 1 hole, and she broke badly.

"She did very well. I'm very pleased with her."

One for Rose, the 124-pound highweight in the Hendrie, conceded five pounds to Nashinda.

Surface switch Wake at Noon's tonic

It was disappointing to most when the first scheduled turf race of the season, which was billed as the prep for the Connaught Cup, was moved to the dirt on Sunday.

But that certainly wasn't the case with the connections of Wake at Noon, who had been entered for the main track only and wound up as the lone speed in a scratch-riddled field of six.

The result was a 3 1/2-length victory at one mile and 70 yards for Wake at Noon, an 8-year-old who was Canada's Horse of the Year, champion older horse, and champion sprinter in 2002. It also ended a 14-race losing streak dating back to September of 2003.

"The old boy still knows how to do it," said Abraham Katryan, who trains Wake at Noon for owner-breeder Bruno Schickedanz.

"I really wanted to see him come back and win a race. He deserves a lot of respect. He's done an awful lot."

Katryan said he would be looking for another two-turn race for Wake at Noon, who now has won 20 of 57 starts and more than $1.6 million.

Slew Valley ready for Connaught Cup

Slew Valley, runner-up to Wake at Noon, also is 8 years old and was making his first start on the main track since May 27, 2000.

"That should set him up nicely," said trainer Reade Baker, who saddled Slew Valley for the first time in last year's Connaught Cup and watched him record a nose victory.

Slew Valley is slated to swing back in this year's Grade 3, $150,000 Connaught Cup over 1 1/16 miles of turf here May 29.

Stakes score for Mister Coop

Mister Coop became a stakes winner in his second start for trainer Danny Vella here in last Saturday's New Providence, a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired horses.

A 6-year-old gelding owned by Syd Cooper and previously trained by Malcolm Pierce, Mister Coop had won his seasonal bow in a second-level allowance over five furlongs here opening day.

"I love it when a plan comes together," said Vella. "He's just a nice horse."

Mister Coop was visibly agitated following the New Providence but emerged none the worse for wear.

"It was a combination of being upset, and the heat," said Vella. "He's a big, excitable horse and he runs hard.

"He seems to be in perfect order."

The $125,000 Steady Growth, a 1 1/16 mile race here June 11, is the next Ontario-sired stakes for the division.

"That's a possibility," said Vella. "We'll have to sit back, and take a good look."

Thinking Trial with Out From Africa

Out From Africa, a Queen's Plate eligible, was a smart winner in his first start of the year, a first-level allowance over six furlongs here Saturday.

Trained by John Ross, Out From Africa earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 86 after running down Accountforthegold, who had finished second to Canadian juvenile champion Wholelottabourbon in his seasonal bow, the six-furlong Woodstock here April 23.

"I was really pleased," said Ross. "He finished strong down the lane, and galloped out really good."

Out From Africa, a British Columbia-bred, started just twice last year, winning over six furlongs and then finishing a close second in the 6 1/2-furlong Sunny's Halo.

"The next thing to do would be to get a two-turn race into him, if we're going to go to the Plate Trial," said Ross.

The 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial will be run June 5, three weeks before the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate.

Tough break for Fraser

Corey Fraser, Canada's reigning champion apprentice, suffered a broken nose when he was bumped by his scheduled mount, Gangster, in the paddock before Sunday's third race.

Gangster finished fourth under replacement rider Robert King.

Keeping in tradition with one of the well-established but inexplicable quirks of horse racing, Fraser's next two scheduled rides both won.

David Clark picked up the mount on Rare Passion in the fifth, while Patrick Husbands inherited sixth-race winner Arezzo.

Fraser was back galloping horses on Monday morning.