05/13/2005 12:00AM

Nashinda ready to face the champ


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Nashinda will line up against two-time Canadian champion One for Rose and five other fillies and mares Sunday in the Grade 3, $164,100 Hendrie Handicap at Woodbine.

Nashinda, a speedy 4-year-old, enjoyed brief but productive campaigns in her first two years on the racetrack. She won the My Dear Stakes at 2 in 2003 and was deemed a serious contender for the 2004 Labatt Woodbine Oaks. She missed the second half of the year, however, because of bone bruises, according to trainer Mac Benson.

"It was the same thing that Smarty Jones had," Benson said. "We just gave her some time."

Nashinda returned from a nine-month layoff here April 17 in the six-furlong Whimsical Stakes and set slow fractions over a deep, cuppy track en route to a comfortable victory.

Benson said he was elated with Nashinda's comeback effort, in which jockey David Clark angled her into the three path soon after they broke from post 1.

"I thought she did exceptionally well, for the amount of training that she'd had," Benson said. "David rode his usual smart race on her - he tried to get her off the heavy [inside] going. I look for her to be even a shade better this time."

One for Rose has proven to be one of the best claims in Woodbine history. Taken for $40,000 by trainer Sid Attard in the fall of 2002, One for Rose has banked just over $1 million for the Tucci Stable. She has won the Sovereign Award for champion older filly or mare in each of the last two years.

Attard said that One for Rose will likely be retired by year's end and said she seems better than ever this spring at age 6.

"She's been training very good," Attard said. "She had a nice work on the training track last Sunday. She went three-quarters in 1:12.40. She looks so good. She's looking better now than she ever did."

Attard said the 6 1/2-furlong distance of the Hendrie concerns him, since One for Rose is a route specialist.

"To tell you the truth, I'm scared to run her six and a half," Attard said. "It's too short for her."

Silver Bird, a closing second in the Whimsical, is also in the field. She has been second in 5 of her last 8 starts, including four stakes.

* Soaring Free, Canada's reigning Horse of the Year, heads the first turf race of the meeting on Sunday, an allowance race that serves as a prep for the May 29 Connaught Cup Stakes.