10/07/2003 11:00PM

Desert Pearls refreshed after break


ARCADIA, Calif. - Blame for the erratic form displayed by Desert Pearls at Del Mar in August falls squarely on the shoulders of trainer Bob Baffert.

"I overran her too much at Del Mar," he said.

In three starts, Desert Pearls won a maiden race by 7 1/2 lengths on Aug. 2, finished fourth in an allowance on Aug. 15, and was second in a similar race on Aug. 29.

She returns on Friday as a top contender in a $45,000 allowance race for fillies and mares at Santa Anita.

A win could put Desert Pearls closer to a start in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over seven furlongs in late December.

"We'll know after Friday," Baffert said. "That race is always in the back of my mind."

The allowance race drew eight runners, including Dubai Belle, who was stakes-placed in France last year; Boonesboro Beach, who is on a three-race winning streak; and Cat Fighter, who will be coupled with Desert Pearls and is also trained by Baffert.

Cat Fighter and Desert Pearls are owned by The Thoroughbred Corp.

Cat Fighter won a six-furlong maiden race in her second start in May at Hollywood Park and was second in her debut against winners in an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles.

Desert Pearls has been kept to sprints in her brief career. She led in her last start, but she may be more effective from the stalking position she displayed in her debut.

Boonesboro Beach won three times at Del Mar and was claimed in each start. She won for $20,000 on July 28, $25,000 on Aug. 13, and for $32,000 on Aug. 30. A 4-year-old, Boonesboro Beach races for Donnie Crevier and trainer Mike Marlow, who claimed her on July 28, lost her in her next start, and claimed her again on Aug. 30.

Dubai Belle is making her first start on the main track.

Trained by Eoin Harty, Dubai Belle was last of nine as the favorite in an allowance race on turf at Del Mar on Aug. 22. In France last year, she was second to Heat Haze in the Prix Coronation over a mile on turf. Heat Haze is a top contender for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf this month.

The pace of Friday's race could come from Dream of Summer, who has won 2 of 4 starts but was pulled up as the favorite in a turf sprint at Del Mar Aug. 28. Her wins have come over 6 1/2 furlongs.