06/25/2003 12:00AM

Silver Nithi to face five in allowance

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Stakes winner Silver Nithi should be a major player in Friday's Woodbine feature, a second-level allowance worth $74,400.

A strong six-horse field of fillies and mares was drawn for the 1 1/16-mile race, which also includes Grade 2-placed Saint Bernadette.

Trained by David Bell, Silver Nithi was coming off her maiden win when she finished a bang-up second to Ginger Gold in the 2002 Labatt Woodbine Oaks. She subsequently captured the second leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara, the $250,000 Bison City Stakes at Fort Erie, while upsetting Ginger Gold.

Silver Nithi failed to find the mark during the second half of 2002, but managed to place in three stakes on dirt and turf during that period. She made an eye-catching bid, before fading to third, when she came off the sidelines in an $80,000 optional claimer May 14, and she was recently a well-beaten fourth behind a sharp Winning Chance in the Ontario Matron Handicap.

Patrick Husbands will break Silver Nithi from the 2-hole, the most productive post position in 1 1/16-mile dirt races at the meeting.

Saint Bernadette, owned by Stronach Stable, could vie for favoritism with Silver Nithi. Last year, she competed for trainer Bruce Headley in Southern California and hit the board in all six of her outings, the best of which was a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks.

Saint Bernadette returned from a one-year layoff with a new trainer, Danny Vella, in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance here June 8. Sent off as the even-money favorite, she looked to be going nowhere on the turn, but then kicked in through the stretch to win by a nose.

Saint Bernadette will move back out to the distance of the Hollywood Oaks on Friday, and could have an uncontested lead. Todd Kabel retains the mount.

Souvenier Biz back to sprinting

Vella will also saddle the rapid 3-year-old Souvenier Biz in Friday's second race, a 6 1/2-furlong allowance.

Souvenier Biz was a close second when he debuted April 20, and he then won another six-furlong maiden special by 10 lengths, with the benefit of an inside speed bias. The victory earned him a big Beyer Speed Figure of 99.

Most recently, Souvenier Biz set slow fractions on a clear lead in a 1 1/16-mile allowance. He looked to be home free at the top of the stretch, but began to shorten stride and was caught on the wire by Button Wood.