04/12/2007 11:00PM

Indian Flare on the rise down the hill

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Indian Flare had made 14 starts and was a stakes winner before trainer Bobby Frankel tried her on turf in the restricted Flower Girl Handicap last month.

Indian Flare's win in that race might define the remainder of her 2007 campaign.

Indian Flare will try for her first graded stakes win in Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita. And Frankel has much higher expectations for the 5-year-old Indian Flare.

"She might win a Grade 1 this year," Frankel said. "The thing is, she doesn't need the lead. She broke her maiden coming from behind."

Owned by Juddmonte Farms, Indian Flare is the 118-pound topweight in the Las Cienegas. She enters the race in the best form of her career, having won 3 of her last 5 starts. She won the Kalookan Queen Handicap on dirt in late December, but ran ninth in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap in January.

Frankel blames himself for that loss, wondering if she should have run at all. "She tied up on me that morning," he said.

In the Flower Girl Handicap, Indian Flare was fourth early in pursuit of a quick pace, and took the lead in the final furlong.

In the Las Cienegas, Indian Flare faces four fillies and mares that have had recent success on the hillside turf course.

River's Prayer won the Irish O'Brien Stakes for statebred fillies and mares on the hillside turf course on March 17, her first start of 2007. A 4-year-old filly, she is seeking her first graded stakes win in the Las Cienegas. She finished last in the Grade 1 Matriarch and Grade 1 La Brea Stakes late last year.

Red Diadem is making her stakes debut. She has won two allowance races on the hillside turf course at this meeting. Trained by Ben Cecil, Red Diadem has won 3 of her last 4 starts, dating back to a maiden race on the synthetic track at Hollywood Park last November.

"She likes the hill," Cecil said. "It's a step up but she's done it all so far. She's got to improve again."

So do Wild Storm and No Lullaby. Wild Storm was a troubled fifth in the Flower Girl, bobbling at the start. No Lullaby won an allowance race on March 25 at 38-1.