03/10/2003 12:00AM

Group 1 winners try again


ARCADIA, Calif. - Ivory Tower and Paga arrived from South America in 2001 as Group 1 winners and were expected to make an impact in California's graded stakes.

Two years later, they have yet to duplicate their South American form. Paga has been plagued by illness, while Ivory Tower's career has been derailed because she bled from the lungs.

The two horses can rebound when they make their first starts of 2003 in Wednesday's $75,000 Winter Solstice Stakes for fillies and mares over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course.

Ivory Tower and Paga face six other opponents, all of whom have won or placed in stakes.

The Winter Solstice Stakes is part of a strong eight-race program.

There are two optional claimers for 3-year-olds over a mile. Santa Catarina, third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last October, makes her 3-year-old debut in the second race. In the fourth race, During, a well-regarded colt, will attempt to win his second race, which could lead to a start in a Kentucky Derby prep.

There is also a $65,000 optional claimer for older horses over 1 1/16 miles that includes Bluesthestandard, a winner of seven races on this circuit last year.

The Winter Solstice lacks a standout. High Society, the winner of the La Habra Stakes last year, will be well backed, but ran only third in an allowance race on Feb. 22, her first start after an injury.

Brocky's Dream has won two allowance races on turf for female sprinters, both times as a longshot. Repository won the Mamzelle Stakes last April at Churchill Downs, but is winless in two starts since joining trainer D. Wayne Lukas this winter.

Pina Colada and Sentimental Value will attract support. Pina Colada was second in the Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course on Dec. 31, but only fourth in an allowance race on Jan. 29. Sentimental Value won a division of the Ramser Handicap last October, but has been sidelined by illness or injury since December.

The other starters are Coney Kitty, Paga, and Ivory Tower.

Coney Kitty is making her first start for trainer David Hofmans, having been previously trained by Christophe Clement. She won a six-furlong stakes against males at 2 in Ireland.

Ivory Tower is making her first start since November; Paga has not started since the 2002 Winter Solstice, in which she finished sixth.

She was later found to have a severe throat ulcer, which was treated through a laser operation, trainer Richard Mandella said.

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