01/10/2007 1:00AM

Dona Amelia on ambitious path


ARCADIA, Calif. - Friday's $75,000 Paseana Handicap will determine the direction of Dona Amelia's winter campaign.

Trainer Eduardo Inda is already plotting an ambitious course. Friday's race, at a mile on dirt, is four weeks in advance of the $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap on Feb. 10.

"The timing is perfect," Inda said. "I love that."

But it is unclear whether Dona Amelia is a Grade 1-caliber mare in the United States.

A multiple stakes winner in Chile last year, Dona Amelia is winless in two starts in this country - a second in an allowance race at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in October and a third in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park last month.

In the Bayakoa, Dona Amelia was fourth on the backstretch and rallied to get within 1 1/2 lengths of the lead in the stretch. She could not sustain the bid and was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by the late-closing Foxysox.

"She ran a good race and got a little tired," Inda said. "I thought she had a good chance. I took her over there a couple of days before to get used to the [synthetic] track. Here, she should like it better. This is real dirt, like she ran on in South America."

Dona Amelia is one of eight mares in the Paseana. All of the entrants ran in a stakes in their last start, including three other runners from the Bayakoa - Tanta Suerte (who finished fourth), Gins Majesty (seventh), and Silver Highlight (ninth).

Inda said that Dona Amelia is adaptable to race conditions, and can lead, if necessary.

"She can go either way," Inda said. "In Chile, she went wire to wire. But in South America, it's not the same. They go a slow pace."

No Sleep, a three-time stakes winner in Iowa and New Jersey last year, and River Savage, who was third in the Kalookan Queen Handicap here on Dec. 28, are capable of setting the pace.

The Paseana marks the U.S. debut of Carla Stripes, an Argentine-bred filly who was recently acquired by Sid and Jenny Craig. The Craigs campaigned Paseana in the 1990's with trainer Ron McAnally, who also trains Carla Stripes.

Carla Stripes, 5, has won 4 of 5 starts, including a Group 1 race at about a mile in Argentina last April.

"She's been here about four months," McAnally said. "She's not a good work filly, but she did have a good work [on Dec. 30]. She had three solid seven-eighths works."