02/11/2010 1:00AM

Empressive Lady may be due for a win


ARCADIA, Calif. - A stakes win is coming from Empressive Lady one of these days. At least, that's the way trainer Jeff Mullins perceives her career.

"I think she's one of those fillies that needed time to mature," Mullins said. "She's coming into herself."

Third in the Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on Jan. 3, Empressive Lady is back on the same course for Friday's $60,000 Wishing Well Handicap. The good news for Mullins and owner Michael House is that the field does not include the Monrovia winner, Tuscan Evening, who is expected to start in Monday's Buena Vista Handicap.

Empressive Lady is part of a field of 10 in the Wishing Well over about 6 1/2 furlongs. Empressive Lady has shown ample promise in turf sprints. In addition to her placing in the Monrovia, she was first, via disqualification, in a five-furlong turf sprint at Del Mar last summer. A winner of 3 of 12 starts, Mullins thinks she excels on turf.

"I think she's better on the grass because she doesn't have a lot of stuff flying up and hitting her," Mullins said. "She's a little more confident."

Empressive Lady will be ridden by Victor Espinoza, who is likely to keep her just behind the leaders. The race has drawn the 2009 stakes winners Dreamt, Porto Marmay, and Skedee.

Porto Marmay will be making her first start since a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap here last October. She won an optional claimer on the hillside course in October 2008.

Dreamt, who won the Prix Coronation Stakes over about a mile in France last September, was eighth in an optional claimer over a mile here on Jan. 8 in her U.S. debut and first start for trainer Bill Mott. He said on Wednesday that she may be more effective in sprints.

Royal Taat, a 6-year-old New Zealand-bred mare, will be a factor in the stretch. She is winless in her last seven starts, but was second by a nose to Porto Marmay in the Great Lady M. Handicap over six furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park last June, third in the Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar in September, and a fast-closing fifth in the Monrovia Handicap last month.

"She always runs a good race," trainer John Sadler said. "She just needs a good pace in front of her."