12/05/2006 12:00AM

Leave a Message steps up off impressive win

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It was not possible for Leave a Message to save any ground when she started from post 10 in a field of 12 2-year-old maiden fillies at Hollywood Park on Nov. 18.

In the end, it did not matter. Jockey Corey Nakatani guided Leave a Message to the front, kept her wide throughout, and rode her to a one-length win.

The victory has trainer Gary Mandella hopeful that owner-breeders Brandon and Marianne Chase have a stakes filly for 2007. A better assessment of Leave a Message's ability will be made after she starts in an optional claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park on Thursday.

A win, or even a placing, could lead to a start in the $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on Jan. 15.

Mandella is happy just to be running Leave a Message in an optional claimer, under allowance conditions, and not being forced into the more difficult Hollywood Starlet Stakes later this month.

"We're hoping she can take a little step forward," he said. "It's nice we can get five weeks to the seven-furlong race at Santa Anita."

In her maiden win, Leave a Message raced five-wide on the backstretch and was three-wide on the turn before taking the lead in early stretch. She won by a length over Elusive Melody.

"Corey rode her really confidently," Mandella said. "She opened up pretty early in the stretch and then pricked her ears."

Leave a Message earned a 72 Beyer Speed Figure for her victory, the second-highest career figure of the seven fillies in Thursday's race.

Kimmy Potter, who will make her 12th start of the year on Thursday, earned a 77 when she won a maiden race at Fairplex Park on Sept. 10. She later won the minor Black Swan Stakes at Fairplex, but is unplaced in two stakes at this meeting.

Five of the fillies won their last starts, including Hello Glorious, Jump Rope Girl, and Swiss Current, who like Leave a Message won on Hollywood Park's synthetic surface.

Hello Glorious won her debut on Nov. 4. Jump Rope Girl won a maiden claimer on Nov. 15.

Swiss Current is making her seventh start of the year. Trained by Doug O'Neill for breeder and owner Tailwind Racing, Swiss Current was second in the California Cup Juvenile Fillies at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Oct. 28 and returned to win an optional claimer for statebred fillies at seven furlongs on Nov. 22.