07/29/2005 11:00PM

'Sidney' trying extra eighth

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - There cannot be many faster turf fillies on the continent than Unbridled Sidney, who figures to lead the way as the 122-pound highweight in Monday's $170,700 Royal North Handicap at Woodbine.

Unbridled Sidney, based in Kentucky with trainer Ronny Werner, is unbeaten in three grass starts. Both of her races this year were at five furlongs on the turf at Churchill Downs, where she won an allowance in June and a minor stakes July 9. In the stakes, she earned a huge Beyer Speed Figure of 108 for wiring the field after fractions of 21.60 and 43.80 seconds.

In the Grade 3 Royal North, Unbridled Sidney's main obstacle could be the six-furlong distance, a notion Werner agrees with.

"It's been a question with her, especially last year, when she didn't seem to want to go three-quarters," Werner said. "She's been a little high-strung, but she's been mellowing more and more with age, and has been getting smarter. We felt like this was a place where we could give it a shot to see if she could get the three-quarters."

The other U.S. shippers in the field are Mocha Queen, Brite Diamond, and Tara's Touch.

Mocha Queen finished far back in second in Unbridled Sidney's recent stakes triumph. Trained by Michael Lauer, she was previously third in the five-furlong Excitable Lady Handicap at Churchill.

Brite Diamond rallied for third last time in a one-mile optional claimer at Colonial Downs. Her trainer, Graham Motion, won the Royal North in 2000 and 2001 with Confessional.

Tara's Touch, a South African-bred 6-year-old trained by Niall O'Callaghan, won the 5 1/2-furlong Stravinsky Stakes at Keeneland in her next-to-last outing.

Nashinda, the most accomplished local runner in the Royal North lineup, trailed the field when she finished fifth in her lone grass attempt, the 2004 Ontario Damsel. She was shelved for the year after that July 10 stakes because of bone bruises, and trainer Mac Benson believes that wasn't a true read of her ability on the grass.

"I don't think she would have run good on anything then," Benson said.

Nashinda breezed five-eighths over the turf training course in a bullet 57 seconds July 24.

Velvet Snow, last year's Ontario Damsel winner, has been a close second in both of her outings this year, including the allowance prep for the Royal North.

European import Saint Etienne is going on Lasix following a poor effort in a Group 3 race at York.