04/06/2004 11:00PM

Lucayan Beauty to sprint for now

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Lucayan Beauty finished fifth in her U.S. debut in the La Habra Stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on Feb. 29, a performance that led trainer Jim Cassidy to re-evaluate her spring campaign.

In the long-term, Cassidy hopes Lucayan Beauty can develop into a stakes-caliber filly around two turns. But Cassidy has not seen enough progress to justify a start in such a race this month.

Instead, Cassidy entered in an optional claimer over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course on Friday.

The $49,000 race is the eighth on a nine-race program that begins at 3 p.m.

Lucayan Beauty joined Cassidy's stable last winter after she was purchased for approximately $38,000 last fall in England. She may turn out to be a bargain.

"I think she's more of a sprinter than one who wants to go two turns," he said. "It will take a bit of time to get her up for that mile."

In 12 starts in England, Lucayan Beauty had one win, a minor race against winners over a mile in September. She primarily raced in lower-level races, finishing second or third four times.

Friday, Lucayan Beauty will be ridden by Victor Espinoza, who was aboard in the La Habra when the filly finished 3 1/4 lengths behind Very Vegas. The other seven runners include recent maiden winners Nectarian and Freakin Streaking, and Solar Fire, who was seventh in the La Habra Stakes.

The Dempsey Look and Hawa Mahal were narrowly beaten in an optional claimer on the hillside turf course on March 12.

The Dempsey Look rallied from eighth in the final furlong to finish three-quarters of a length behind Cousineau, a probable for Sunday's $100,000 Providencia Stakes. Hawa Mahal finished a nose behind The Dempsey Look in that race, her first start on turf.

Trained by Paco Gonzalez, is likely to race close to the pace, and might lead since the field is void of a confirmed front-runner.

Nectarian and Nicole and Ben are making their turf debuts. Nectarian has not started since a maiden win on Feb. 21.

Nicole and Ben was fourth in an optional claimer for statebreds on Feb. 19, her fifth consecutive loss. Last year, she finished second in the Cover Gal Stakes during the Oak Tree meeting and was a well-beaten third behind Silent Sighs and Yearly Report in the fillies division of the California Breeders' Champion Stakes on Dec. 27.