08/23/2005 12:00AM

Saint Etienne takes big drop


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Talented European import Saint Etienne figures to toy with her eight rivals in Thursday's Woodbine feature, a six-furlong turf allowance for nonwinners of three.

Saint Etienne won a six-furlong handicap under a staggering 136 pounds in June at Newbury for trainer Andrew Balding. After coming up empty in a Group 3 stakes July 8 at York, she reappeared with Lasix in the Grade 3 Royal North Handicap here Aug. 1.

Saint Etienne was impeded at the break in the six-furlong Royal North, spotting the rest of the field about five lengths. She loomed into contention on the turn, then closed down the center of the course to edge favored Unbridled Sidney for second, but finished a half-length behind Tara's Touch, who had an ideal inside stalking trip.

The class drop Saint Etienne is taking Thursday is about as steep as it gets without dipping into the claiming ranks. Martin Dwyer, who has ridden Saint Etienne in each of her last three starts, has the call for her new trainer, Ed Freeman.

Among the other fillies and mares entered in the headliner are Faswiga, Diamondsfora Lady, Snobby Princess, and Haliburton Eva.

Faswiga finished second in two stakes here last fall, the Flaming Page and Ontario Colleen. She launched her current campaign with a come-from-behind tally in a first-level allowance in May, before finishing far back in the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes.

Faswiga dead-heated for second in a weak $62,500 optional claimer June 23 and then trailed in her latest at that level after getting away slowly. Faswiga was scratched from an $80,000 event last Sunday, when it was shifted to the main track. Jono Jones rides Faswiga for trainer Ian Howard.

Diamondsfora Lady has won 2 of her 3 grass outings, including a six-furlong maiden special last October. She defeated $40,000 nonwinners-of-two opposition in her next-to-last start, but was a fading fourth most recently in a six-furlong allowance. Jim McAleney will ride for trainer Lorne Richards, a combination that is 6 for 19 at the meeting.

Snobby Princess is trying the grass for the first time and has some pedigree for that surface - her dam has had a pair of turf debut winners. Snobby Princess is making her second start off the $20,000 claim by trainer Gail Casselman-Cox and could make some noise as a longshot.

Haliburton Eva is adding blinkers and Lasix for her first start off the $50,000 claim by trainer Stanley Baresich.