Updated on 09/15/2011 1:41PM

Healthy Paga ready for Monrovia

Benoit & Associates
Paga wins her U.S. debut, the Osunitas at Del Mar. She faces a full field in Monday's Monrovia.

ARCADIA, Calif. - With a foot problem apparently behind her, Paga can launch her 2002 campaign a day early in Monday's $100,000 Monrovia Handicap at Santa Anita.

Last summer, Paga made a flashy U.S. debut with a neck win in the restricted Osunitas Handicap at Del Mar. She followed with a third in the Grade 3 Violet Handicap at The Meadowlands, leading in midstretch before losing by 1 1/2 lengths.

A quarter crack left Paga on the sidelines until late fall, but the problem has subsided, according to trainer Richard Mandella. "Everything is good," Mandella said. "I think this is a good way to start her."

The latest challenge for Paga is conquering a large field of fillies and mares over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course. The Monrovia drew 16 entrants, but only 14 will be allowed to start for safety reasons.

Paga may be favored, but the two fillies trained by Bobby Frankel - Rolly Polly and Twin Set - will be well backed. They were one-two in the Safely Kept Handicap over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 24 in their U.S. debuts. Rolly Polly was also entered for Saturday's Grade 1 La Brea Stakes.

An Irish-bred, Rolly Polly is one of three 3-year-old fillies who have been entered; the others are Gabriellina Giof and longshot Smart Timing. Gabriellina Giof makes her hillside debut, but is well suited to a sprint. Trained by Ron McAnally, she won the Manhattan Beach Handicap over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf in her U.S. debut last June and was an unlucky second in the one-mile Harold Ramser Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 14.

Trainer Jim Chapman entered Verruma, who won the Grade 2 Dahlia Handicap over 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park on Dec. 15. She will be ridden by Corey Nakatani, who replaces Garrett Gomez. Gomez takes the ride on Honesty Fair, who makes her U.S. debut following a campaign in England that includes three wins in

13 starts in 2001. She won at five and six furlongs in minor handicaps, but failed in two listed stakes in September and October.

A 4-year-old, Honesty Fair is trained by Kathy Walsh and owned by Richard Duggan and Jim Vreeland, the team that won the 2000 Monrovia Handicap with Evening Promise. Honesty Fair arrived in early December.

"I don't think the hillside will bother her," Walsh said. "The only thing I'm worried about is if we've done enough with her."

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