09/25/2002 11:00PM

Is Nithi year's top filly?


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Silver Nithi, who ran well in all three legs of this year's Canadian 3-year-old filly series, heads Saturday's $141,375 La Lorgnette Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies at Woodbine.

Silver Nithi made her stakes debut on June 8 in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, and closed steadily to end up second to favored Ginger Gold. She turned the tables on that rival on July 1 in the second leg of the 3-year-old filly series, the Bison City Stakes at Fort Erie, blowing by her in deep stretch to win and earning a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.

Trainer David Bell admitted he made a mistake running Silver Nithi back just 12 days later in the Wilderness Song Stakes, in which she was never a factor. She rebounded in the final series race, on turf in the Wonder Where Stakes, finishing second to a sharp Hot Talent after mounting a wide rally.

Last time out against older opposition in another turf stakes, the Grade 2 Canadian, Silver Nithi finished three lengths back in fourth after encountering traffic in the stretch.

"She didn't get into any trouble in the Canadian," Bell said, "but never really got a clear run. She's the type of filly who doesn't have a big kick - she just keeps coming.

"I don't think she moves up on the turf. She just runs the same on it as she does on the dirt. We were looking at the E.P. Taylor Stakes on Sunday, but I don't think she ran well enough on the turf to try it."

A decisive victory on Saturday would give Silver Nithi a foothold on this year's Sovereign Award for champion 3-year-old filly. Richard Dos Ramos has the mount.

Lady Shari destroyed mediocre male opponents two starts ago in the Grade 3 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park, and finished fifth after a horrendous trip most recently, in the Grade 3 B.C. Oaks at Hastings.

Trainer Dave Cotey said an assistant starter had a hold of Lady Shari in the gate prior to the start of the Oaks, causing her to break awkwardly.

"She lost five or six lengths on the field," Cotey said. "She lost more ground when she hit the fence hard the first time around. She was going at a good clip, and another horse came right over on her."

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