03/25/2002 1:00AM

Angel Gift faces tough Frankel duo


ARCADIA, Calif. - The versatility of Angel Gift, who can lead or come from behind, may result in her third career win at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

Angel Gift, one of six older fillies and mares entered in a $60,000 allowance race over 1 1/8 miles on turf, has had good form in her last three starts for trainer Paddy Gallagher and owners Ward Williford and Rick Strauss.

She came from behind to win an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles on dirt on Nov. 5, and returned to finish third behind Azeri (who subsequently won the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap) in an allowance race on Jan. 12.

On Feb. 27, Angel Gift led for every step but the last in an allowance race on turf, missing by a nose.

"She seems like she's getting better as she gets older," Gallagher said. "She was always a big filly."

A winner of 2 of 9 starts, Angel Gift has yet to win on turf, though her last race was a good try. She will be ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye, who was aboard for both wins and her last race.

"We'll try to get her to relax, wherever that may be," Gallagher said.

Trainer Bobby Frankel has two starters - Honestly Darling, the likely favorite, and Autumn Rhythm.

"Those are the dangerous ones," Gallagher said.

Honestly Darling won her debut for Frankel on Jan. 21 in a one-mile allowance race on turf. She has finished first in 3 of 4 starts, but was disqualified from first for causing interference last June at Belmont Park in her final start for Bill Mott.

Autumn Rhythm won an allowance race here on Jan. 2, but was last of five in the Brown Bess Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 2. She has worked well for her return and will be ridden by leading rider Alex Solis.

The other starters include La Picara, a stakes winner in Chile in 2000 who is winless in three starts for trainer Neil Drysdale; Eurolink Raindance, who was third behind Angel Gift on Feb. 27; and Dynamistic, who is trying to end a three-race losing streak.

Of that trio, La Picara may have the best chance. A 5-year-old mare, she adds blinkers and was beaten only a length in an allowance race on the hillside turf course on Feb. 7. She was competitive in longer races in Chile and here last winter, finishing a respectable third in three consecutive starts.

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