09/24/2002 12:00AM

Soft turf would help Nadia


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Nadia, one of the leading candidates for Sunday's Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine, had her final major tune-up for that $750,000 race here Tuesday, breezing six furlongs in 1:15.40 on a turf course labeled good.

The E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares, will share the Sunday spotlight with the Grade 1 Canadian International, a $1.5 million race over 1 1/2 miles on the turf.

Neil Drysdale, who trains Nadia for Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum, traveled from New York for the drill, in which Nadia went in company with stablemate Touch of the Blues.

"They went very well," said Drysdale, who had left Touch of the Blues here following his unlucky fifth-place finish in the Sept. 8 Atto Mile. "It went very much according to plan."

Jockey Robert Landry was aboard Nadia while John McInerney, an exercise rider and assistant to trainer Phil England, rode Touch of the Blues, who finished in 1:15.80.

Nadia, who arrived here from California on Sept. 12, will be ridden Sunday by Corey Nakatani, who had been forced to check hard when Touch of the Blues was rallying strongly in the Atto Mile.

"I'm going to instruct him to try not to come up the fence this time," Drysdale said dryly.

Nadia was a Group 1 winner in France last year but ended fifth in her only North American appearance over 1 3/8 miles of firm turf at Del Mar on July 25. Shortly thereafter, Drysdale began looking to the Taylor.

"It appears that she wants softer ground, and a mile and a quarter," said Drysdale. "Hopefully, she'll get ground with a bit of give in it here."

Meanwhile, Touch of the Blues probably will make his next appearance in the Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile on Oct. 6, although Drysdale said he also will consider Belmont's Oct. 5 Kelso at a mile on turf.

"I was very pleased with his race in the Atto Mile," said Drysdale. "He's been a bit of an unlucky horse, but his time will come."

English fillies arrive for Taylor

Alasha and Fraulein, a pair of 3-year-old fillies who are based in England, checked in Monday night for the E.P. Taylor Stakes and took a brief stroll about the grounds Tuesday.

Alasha, owned by the Aga Khan and trained by Michael Stoute, was accompanied by assistant trainer Jim Scott and exercise rider Kevin Bradshaw.

Scott, a regular visitor here, estimates that this is his seventh trip to Woodbine. Bradshaw was here twice with Singspiel in 1996, with those trips resulting in a victory in the Canadian International and a second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Fraulein, owned by Cliveden Stud and trained by Edward Dunlop, was accompanied by assistant trainer Peter Boothman and exercise rider Tracy Johnson.

Boothman was here for an extended visit last fall with Cayman Sunset, who finished third in the Canadian Handicap, but ended last of 13 after her saddle slipped in the E.P. Taylor.

Zindabad will canter all week

Zindabad, who finished third but was demoted to sixth following an inquiry in last year's International, unlimbered on the turf course under assistant trainer Robynne Watton.

Zindabad, who arrived last Saturday evening, cantered seven furlongs twice, a routine that Watton said the horse will follow for the remainder of the week. A 6-year-old, Zindabad is trained in England by Mark Johnston.

Paolini, runner-up in last year's International, took his exercise on the dirt Tuesday, cantering once around the main track under exercise rider Vaclav Morevec.

A 5-year-old, Paolini arrived Sunday afternoon from Germany, where he is based with trainer Andreas Wohler.

Stage Classic likely for Bearhart

Stage Classic, nominated to the International but a more likely candidate for Sunday's Chief Bearhart, worked five furlongs on a fast main track in 1:02.20 under regular rider Ray Sabourin on Tuesday.

"He went nice and comfortable," said trainer Dave Cotey, who also is a part-owner of Stage Classic. "Ray said he felt great."

The Chief Bearhart, a 1 1/4-mile turf race, offers a purse of $100,000.

Cotey has not completely ruled out taking a shot at the International but would consider the race only if the prospective field suddenly was reduced to five or six.

Wando looks sharp in workout

The most impressive main track worker Tuesday was Wando, who breezed six furlongs in 1:11.80 under exercise rider Louise McDonald in preparation for the Grade 2, $250,000 Grey Stakes here Oct. 6.

Tuesday's blueprint called for Wando, a stakes-winning 2-year-old colt owned and bred by Gustav Schickedanz and trained by Mike Keogh, to lay off the pace of stablemate Fillygris, a 2-year-old filly ridden by Robin Platts.

"It turned out she was rolling from the beginning," said McDonald, who found herself much farther back than planned.

"But all you have to do is chirp to him. He got up to her coming around the turn. He stayed with her probably for one jump, then carried on. He was awesome."

Wando finished far in front of Fillygris, who was clocked in 1:15.20.

Attard entry appears tough

The Tino Attard-trained entry of As Expected and JB's Reference should be well backed in Thursday's third race, a $62,500 claimer for 3-year-olds.

As Expected had a productive summer, winning twice at the $50,000 level, and was claimed for $45,000 on July 27 by Attard. He subsequently finished third in entry-level allowance company and had a valid excuse for his sub par showing most recently, when he had a wide trip over an inside-biased track while facing tough allowance opposition.

JB's Reference, a three-time winner this year, makes his first start off a $35,000 claim. He was victorious for $32,000 in his penultimate start, but was a well-beaten sixth at this level on Aug. 1.

Expected Flirt will be in the hunt if he duplicates his impressive Sept. 12 triumph over $50,000 opposition. He was claimed for $40,000 on July 1 by trainer Vito Armata, who's having a career year.

Tank's Expectation is making his first start for trainer Cliff Hopmans after shipping in from Maryland. His form has deteriorated since the spring, but this will be his first race for a tag this year.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink