03/16/2005 12:00AM

Makeup Artist has class edge

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ARCADIA, Calif. - The simplicity of handicapping a grass race is neatly summarized by trainer John Shirreffs, whose Makeup Artist will be among the favorites in the best race Friday at Santa Anita.

"She has been in stakes, so we're putting her back in an allowance race to get her going," Shirreffs said. "She's fit."

The straightforward statement regarding the 5-year-old mare peels back the incidentals and focuses on key elements of turf-race handicapping - class and condition. A Grade 3 winner and Grade 3-placed, returns from a six-month layoff Friday as the class of the field.

Nine fillies and mares entered the race, at a mile on turf for fillies and mares, nonwinners-of-two-races-other-than. While Makeup Artist's stakes credentials are conspicuous, lightly raced Boasting might be the one to beat.

In four starts for trainer Bobby Frankel, Boasting has two wins and two seconds. Her runner-up finish at the nonwinners-of-two-other-than class level last out proves she fits at the level, and though she has not raced since January, Frankel does not start short horses in turf races.

The class-condition treatment points to Boasting and Makeup Artist as logical contenders in the $65,000 allowance, but there are other options among the nine starters. finished third in a good sprint tune-up, and previously ran well around two turns under similar conditions. Angara finished third in a similar spot in her U.S. debut, and she can improve second start back.

The winner should emerge from those four; five others will try to upset. They are Cold Cold Woman, making her U.S. debut for trainer Neil Drysdale; Broad Minded, a nonwinner-of-one-other-than winner who is coupled with Boasting; Conspiring, whose recent starts suggest she is outmatched; Emmas Princess, a 2-for-16 mare making her U.S. debut for trainer Paddy Gallagher; and Red Top, who followed a runner-up finish in a Golden Gate nonwinners-of-two race with two subpar efforts.

is a 4-year-old filly by Kris S. owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms. In her comeback, she fell behind a slow pace, and finished well to miss by a neck. That was her first since May, and sets her up for a successful 2005 campaign.

Makeup Artist is already a Grade 3 winner, albeit against 3-year-olds last April at Hollywood Park. Since winning her second start, she has raced exclusively in stakes.

If Shirreffs is correct, and Makeup Artist is fit, she may give Boasting a run for her money. Victor Espinoza rides Makeup Artist; Pat Valenzuela rides Boasting.