08/17/2006 12:00AM

Attima leads a mostly local affair

Attima, winning the San Clemente on July 29, will likely be favored in Saturday's Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Without Wait a While in the field, things will be easier for the 3-year-old turf fillies in Saturday's Grade 1, $400,000 Del Mar Oaks.

With Wait a While, the winner of the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park last month, remaining in New York, the field for the Del Mar Oaks is dominated by locally based fillies, with a few accomplished visitors added to the field of 10.

Attima, the winner of the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park and San Clemente Handicap here, is likely to go favored in the 1 1/8-mile race. She must beat Arravale, the Canadian invader who was third in the American Oaks; Charming N Lovable, who won the Flawlessly at Hollywood Park; and Foxysox, who has won three stakes this year.

Add the shippers May Night and Take a Ribbon, both stakes winners, and the Del Mar Oaks is an outstanding betting race.

Attima finished eighth at 5-2 in the American Oaks, but rebounded to lead throughout the one-mile San Clemente on July 29. Trained by Julio Canani, she will be ridden by Victor Espinoza in the Del Mar Oaks.

"I won't say she'll win, but she really is happy and eating, and that's the main thing," Canani said. "Victor said the other day that she got a little tired, but that he didn't do anything late."

Attima won the San Clemente by 1 1/4 lengths, leading by more at the finish than at any other point in the race.

Carla Gaines, who trains Foxysox, said she fears Attima could be unchallenged on the lead in the Del Mar Oaks. Foxysox finished second to Attima in the Honeymoon at 1 1/8 miles on June 4 after her preparation was interrupted.

"She had feet issues, and we were kind of a little short," Gaines said of Foxysox's Honeymoon.

Foxysox was sixth in the American Oaks. She will be ridden for the first time by Corey Nakatani in the Del Mar Oaks.

Charming N Lovable needs a decent pace to have any chance. Trained by Paddy Gallagher, Charming N Lovable most recently won her stakes debut in the one-mile Flawlessly, which was also her third consecutive win.

"You don't know if she belongs or not, but she's built up enough experience to try this kind of field," Gallagher said. "It's a big step up."

Arravale returned to Woodbine after the American Oaks and was shipped to California on Monday. She is making just her sixth start and can be near the front. She was beaten five lengths in the American Oaks, losing second place late to Japanese filly Asahi Rising.

The two other shippers - May Night and Take the Ribbon - are coming up to the race well. May Night was a fast-closing second in the Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs on July 15. Take the Ribbon won the Heavenly Cause Handicap at Churchill Downs on July 16 in her stakes debut.

Trainer Jim Cassidy starts Sol Mi Fa and Soothsay, who were second and third behind Attima in the San Clemente.

For the San Clemente, Cassidy had said he liked the chances of Sol Mi Fa better than Soothsay, but for the Oaks, he said Thursday that he prefers the chances of Soothsay. The distance is a major factor in his point of view.

"This time we have another eighth of a mile, and that works in her advantage," he said of Soothsay.

Both Sol Mi Fa and Soothsay have won minor stakes in northern California, and each is seeking her first graded stakes win. Sol Mi Fa will be closer to the pace. Cassidy said he is hopeful that she is not too eager in the first half-mile.

The field

Del Mar Oaks
Purse: $400,000; 1 1/8 miles, turf; Grade 1

1Indy MissJ. Court15-1
2Charming N LovableA. Solis5-1
3Sol Mi FaN. Arroyo12-1
4FoxysoxC. Nakatani8-1
5ArravaleJ. Valdivia 9-2
6Take the RibbonD. Flores6-1
7May NightA. Gryder20-1
8MeetmeinthewoodsT. Baze 15-1
9SoothsayM. Smith10-1
10AttimaV. Espinoza9-5
Also Eligible:
11Secret SchemeV. Espinoza8-1

* All starters carry 122 pounds
* Odds by Michael Hammersly