12/27/2007 12:00AM

La Brea a career-maker. But for who?

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Sindy With an S, winner of the Grade 3 Safely Kept Breeders' Cup Stakes at Laurel, aims for her first Grade 1 in Saturday's La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita.
ARCADIA, Calif. - A win in Saturday's $250,000 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita would be a career-defining race for any of the 14 3-year-old fillies entered in the Grade 1 race.

The difficulty is isolating which of them is most likely to win the seven-furlong race.

There are eight stakes winners in the field, but only two graded stakes winners - Ashley's Kitty (Grade 3 Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park in May) and Sindy With an S (Grade 3 Safely Kept Breeders' Cup Stakes at Laurel in October).

The field includes two promising but lightly raced fillies - Frisk Her, a minor stakes winner at Aqueduct earlier this month, and Glorified, unraced since a second-place finish in the Honest Lady Stakes at Hollywood Park in July, her third start.

In an open race, the role of favorite may go to Dawn After Dawn, who was third in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes and fourth in the Kentucky Oaks last spring and won an optional claimer in her California debut at Hollywood Park last month.

The optional claimer was Dawn After Dawn's first start since July and first start for trainer John Sadler, who was both pleased and alarmed by the performance. Dawn After Dawn led by a length with a furlong remaining, but began to pull herself up under jockey Garrett Gomez in the final sixteenth. She won by a head over Swiss Diva, another starter in the La Brea.

Gomez retains the mount in the La Brea, and will keep after Dawn After Dawn if she makes the lead in a race certain to be run at a strong pace.

Sadler said that Gomez will try not to make the lead too early on Dawn After Dawn.

"There should be plenty of pace," Sadler said of the La Brea.

One likely pacesetter is Dearest Trickski, Sadler's other starter, who seemed like an unlikely candidate for this sort of race a few months ago. Dearest Trickski was claimed by Sadler and owner Tom Mankiewicz for $32,000 at Del Mar in August, and has subsequently won three consecutive races - a $50,000 claimer, an optional claimer, and an allowance race.

The La Brea is the stakes debut for Dearest Trickski, who has won 7 of 11 starts.

"We'll find out in the next couple of races how good she is," Sadler said. "She doesn't have any conditions. She's got a lot of speed. I'm a little concerned about the distance."

A fast pace will help several fillies, including Ashley's Kitty, Glorified, and Sindy With an S, all of whom will not be far from the front.

Ashley's Kitty was second in two sprint stakes against older fillies and mares this fall - the Bangles and Beads Stakes at Fairplex Park and the Pine Tree Lane Stakes at the Oak Tree meeting here. In six career sprints, she has not been worse than second.

"She won't be too far off of it," trainer Ted H. West said. "I think the distance is great for her. We've been targeting this race for several months and she's coming in fresh."

Glorified was sidelined with an illness following the Honest Lady in July, her first loss.

Owners Mace and Samantha Siegel and trainer Ron Ellis considered a prep race in the autumn, but "we decided that we'd be better off training up to the race," Ellis said. "We have a lot of faith in our filly. She's only had three races, but she's pretty professional. I've given her plenty of time for this. I haven't rushed her."

Sindy With an S was fifth in the Ms. Woodford Stakes over a sloppy track at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27, a race that trainer Mike Mitchell dismissed.

"She hated it," he said of the going. "She blew a shoe. She didn't like it from the get-go."

It was the first time that Sindy With an S had been worse than third in her eight-race career. She breaks from post 10, and her consistency gives Mitchell hope.

"It's a nice outside spot for the way you want to rate her," he said. "To win a Grade 1, you have to have that perfect trip."