03/13/2006 1:00AM

Heavenly Ransom's big test


ARCADIA, Calif. - With one excusable exception, Heavenly Ransom has steadily ascended the class ladder, putting her on the precipice of graded stakes company. On Wednesday at Santa Anita, Heavenly Ransom will get a stern test to find out if she is ready to move into graded company, when she meets group stakes winners Movie Star and Toupie in the day's seventh race.

won first time out during Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, captured a minor stakes at Turf Paradise, had a brutal trip in an allowance race here earlier in the meet, then rebounded to top a second-level allowance field on Feb. 3. Wednesday's race, a third-level allowance, drew a field of 10 going a mile on turf, with Heavenly Ransom on the rail.

"Every race she's been in has been a little tougher, but she's stepped up on each occasion and fared quite well," her trainer, Ray Bell, said Monday morning. "I like that she's had plenty of time since her last race."

This clearly is the toughest challenge Heavenly Ransom has yet faced. , a Group 3 winner in France, figures to improve off her U.S. debut in last month's Buena Vista Handicap, in which she finished sixth, but was beaten by less than two lengths.

"She ran a good race," said Toupie's trainer, Beau Greely. "She's been training super. She came out of her last race ready to roll. You can see the change."

Greely also was considering the Grade 2, $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on March 26 for Toupie, but decided the distance and class level of Wednesday's race were a better fit.

"She seems best at a mile," Greely said. "I think I can get her confidence up more if I go in there. It's an allowance. We want to try to get her a win. This is a better spot."

Greely said he is hoping to use Wednesday's race as a prep for the Cash Call Mile at Hollywood Park.

Of the others, rates an upset chance. She returned from a seven-month layoff to finish third in downhill turf sprint prep on Jan. 19. She is much more effective at this distance; she has finished first or second in all three of her races at a mile or 1 1/16 miles.