10/10/2006 12:00AM

Brazilian fillies renew their rivalry

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Two stakes-winning Brazilian-bred fillies - Nakaba and Naughty Rafaela - will play a pivotal role in Thursday's fourth race at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

Nakaba and Naughty Rafaela are making their first starts in the United States in a $47,000 allowance race at 1 1/8 miles on turf on Thursday.

It will be the third consecutive race in which they have met. In the Grade 1 Brazilian Oaks at about 1 1/4 miles on turf in October 2005, Nakaba finished third, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, while Naughty Rafaela was fifth. Two months later, Naughty Rafaela won a Group 1 race at about 1 1/2 miles on turf, the Grand Prix Jose Guathemozin Nogueira, by 1 1/4 lengths over Nakaba.

Nakaba and Naughty Rafaela have not started since that Group 1 race in December.

They are two of six entrants in the allowance race, joined by Galloping Angel, Ghurra, Missatacama, and Trade Only.

Nakaba has impressed trainer Paulo Lobo with her recent training. Lobo said Thursday's distance is the minimum trip for Nakaba, 4.

"She has been here since April and she has been doing well," he said. "I think a mile and an eighth or longer is best for her. This is a good distance to start."

Lobo saw Nakaba race in Brazil. Owned by Select Stable One, Nakaba has won 3 of 8 starts. Her wins have come in races at a mile or farther.

"She's a filly that runs in the middle of the pack," Lobo said. "I expect if she fits well here, she'll be a quality filly."

Naughty Rafaela has won 2 of 5 starts. Owned by TNT Stud, Naughty Rafaela is trained by Bobby Frankel. She has been with Frankel's Santa Anita division for the last several weeks.

Of the other four entrants, Ghurra has the best form. In three starts since June, she has not been worse than third, including a win in an allowance race at Hollywood Park in June and a third in the Marina Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Golden Gate Fields on Aug. 26.

Ghurra, who races near the front, ran 1 1/8 miles or farther in two starts in England last year, including a second in a minor handicap.

Neil Drysdale starts Trade Only, who won twice in the spring but has not started since finishing a troubled sixth in an optional claimer at Hollywood Park on June 1.