09/01/2008 12:00AM

Empressive Lady bound to impress


DEL MAR, Calif. - In the five weeks since Empressive Lady beat maidens by 5 1/2 lengths at Del Mar, her reputation has only grown. Of course, this will be a hindrance to bettors expecting any sort of price in Monday's $250,000 Del Mar Debutante.

"I haven't seen too many fillies geared down like that and win like she did," said trainer Jeff Mullins. "That's what we were hoping she'd do."

The Empressive Lady bandwagon will make her the favorite in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, which is run over seven furlongs and is an important race in advance of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on Oct. 24.

Jockey Tyler Baze was aboard Empressive Lady for her maiden win on July 27, and retains the mount for the Debutante. In the maiden race, Empressive Lady led throughout, drawing away from the field on the turn. For the Debutante, Baze could have chosen to ride Evita Argentina, a filly he rode to a one-length victory in the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes here on Aug. 6.

It was not just Empressive Lady's maiden win that caught Baze's attention. He was impressed after one of Empressive Lady's six-furlong workouts in late August.

"Her name fits her, she is impressive," Baze said. "I've ridden her in her workouts and she went out in 1:23 breezing. Two-year-olds are not supposed to do that."

Owned by Michael House, Empressive Lady is one of six fillies in the 12-horse field making the jump from a maiden race to a stakes.

Montana Fields lost her debut on July 20 and returned on Aug. 3 to win a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Montana Fields will be ridden by leading jockey Rafael Bejarano.

Montana Fields breaks from post 9, which Hollendorfer thinks will help her stalking style.

"I think in this kind of race, I'd rather be outside," Hollendorfer said. "I'm thankful not to be all the way outside. She's ready to go seven-eighths. There are runners in there, and we know that."

Three fillies were supplemented for $10,000: Palacio de Amor, Saucey Evening and Will O Way.

Palacio de Amor, who drew the rail, is expected to set the pace. Saucey Evening was second in the CTBA Stakes for statebreds over 5 1/2 furlongs on July 18, and was recently shipped to California from trainer Graham Motion's Maryland base. Will O Way will be making her California debut and first start for trainer Vladimir Cerin after winning a maiden race at Calder in July.

The race includes three stakes winners and three fillies who have placed in stakes.

Evita Argentina is unbeaten in two starts for Halo Farms and Three Sisters Thoroughbreds and trainer John Sadler. Sadler hoped to retain Tyler Baze for Evita Argentina, but has hired Alex Solis.

Evita Argentina will break from post 3 and will not be prominent early. The post "suits her well because she has a nice late kick," Sadler said.

Sadler also starts Emmy Darling, the winner of the six-furlong Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park in June. Emmy Darling was a troubled fourth in the Sorrento Stakes, and was promoted to third when third-place Glitter City was disqualified. Emmy Darling, a stalker, will break from post 11.

"Emmy got the better draw this time," Sadler said of his two fillies. "Going seven-eighths, 11 of 12 is a good post. I wouldn't be surprised if they're both right there."

Glitter City, trained by Mullins, also is part of the Debutante field. She was second in the Landaluce Stakes.

Trifecta King, who won the Cinderella Stakes at Hollywood Park in May, will be a longshot. Stardom Bound, a maiden after two races, will be well-supported. Trained by Christopher Paasch, Stardom Bound was second by a length in the Sorrento Stakes after a slow start.