07/16/2008 11:00PM

Bahama Mama in it early - at the least

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Bahama Mama's speed may be a key asset in Saturday's $85,000 Osunitas Handicap at Del Mar. Her running style has allowed trainer Jim Cassidy to forecast where she will be at the midway point of the turf race over 1 1/16 miles - leading or stalking one rival.

"The rest will be behind us - at least on the backstretch," Cassidy said.

After that, Cassidy will be holding his breath. Bahama Mama has never run as far as 1 1/16 miles. Earlier this year, Bahama Mama won the restricted Lawndale Stakes over six furlongs on turf.

A 4-year-old filly owned by Forging Oaks Farm, Bahama Mama finished first in the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita in April, but was disqualified and placed fourth for causing interference in early stretch, a decision that still irks Cassidy.

Bahama Mama is ideally suited to the conditions of the Osunitas Handicap. The race is restricted to fillies and mares that have not won a stakes worth $50,000 or more to the winner, other than statebred races, at a mile or over this year.

Bahama Mama has not run as far as a mile since finishing third in the German 1,000 Guineas in April 2007. In her last start, she was second to Silky Smooth in the Great Lady M Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 11.

"They ran pretty fast," Cassidy said, adding that jockey David Flores "didn't think she saw that filly."

Bahama Mama could vie for the lead with Zardana, who has drawn the rail and shown speed in the past.

The other leading contenders are stalkers or closers.

Marzelline was fifth, beaten three lengths, in the Grade 2 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park in June. "She had a little bit of a wide trip," trainer Ben Cecil said. "I think she could have been in the top three."

Fleet Caroline was third in the restricted Redondo Beach Stakes over a mile on turf in June, closing well in the final furlong.

"She should run a little better than last time," trainer Vladimir Cerin said. "She kind of blew the turn a little bit."

Trainer Barry Abrams has two well-placed candidates - Lightmyfirebaby and Spenditallbaby.

Lightmyfirebaby was placed first in the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap. She ran second in the Work the Crowd Stakes over a mile on turf at Golden Gate Fields on June 21.

Spenditallbaby won the B. Thoughtful Stakes at Hollywood Park in April, but has lost her three starts, which came at Hollywood Park and Belmont Park.