06/15/2005 11:00PM

Nashinda vs. One for Rose, take 2

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Saturday's $132,625 Ontario Matron Handicap at Woodbine could play a pivotal role in determining the champion older filly or mare in Canada this year.

One for Rose, who was voted the Sovereign Award for top older female in each of the past two years, was soundly defeated in her 2005 debut in the Hendrie Handicap by the up-and-comer in the division, Nashinda. Both are in the 1 1/16-mile Matron, which figures to be a fascinating matchup.

Nashinda won the six-furlong Whimsical Stakes when she returned from an extended layoff April 17, and then struck again in the 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie. Nashinda is blessed with brilliant speed, but she won a 1 1/16-mile allowance here last spring when she was prepping for the Labatt Woodbine Oaks, a race she missed.

Nashinda got a career-high 101 Beyer Speed Figure in the Hendrie. Trainer Mac Benson believes she may be sitting on another peak race following two good workouts, the latest a five-furlong drill in 59 seconds on Tuesday.

"The Hendrie was a very good race," Benson said. "Let's just hope I have her as good on Saturday as I did then. She's trained up to it real good. She worked a mile in 1:40 with [jockey David Clark] on her, and then I worked her five-eighths in 59 with my exercise girl, Jackie Wyatt, on her."

One for Rose went over the $1 million mark in earnings in 2004, when she won the Matron and three other stakes.

Things didn't go smoothly for One for Rose in the Grade 3 Hendrie, however, as she broke a bit slowly and rushed up to stalk a tepid pace on a speed-favoring track. Nashinda had everything her own way on a clear lead, but One for Rose dug in gamely to secure second, finishing about four lengths behind.

Trainer Sid Attard said the Hendrie was too short for One for Rose, but he was content with her performance.

"They tried to box her in, but she ran very well," Attard said.

One for Rose will tote high weight of 125 pounds in the Matron, one pound more than she carried in the Hendrie. Attard said he wasn't happy with the weight assignment, but he pointed out that One for Rose carried 126 pounds going 1 1/4 miles when she won the Grade 3 Maple Leaf Stakes in November.

Rounding out the Matron field are Raylene, Honey Green, and Ballroom Deputy.