04/05/2007 12:00AM

Milk It Mick primed for top try in Arcadia

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ARCADIA, Calif. - The California turf mile division is badly in need of a leader. The winner of Saturday's $150,000 Arcadia Handicap over a mile on turf at Santa Anita may inherit that role, at least until the next major stakes.

With Kip Deville, the winner of last month's Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile, waiting for the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, there is no standout in the Grade 2 Arcadia, which has drawn a field of 10. None of the Arcadia entrants ran in the top three in their last stakes appearance.

The highweight is Willow O Wisp at 117 pounds. Trained by Vladimir Cerin, Willow O Wisp, a four-time stakes winner, is making his first start since May. Milk It Mick, the winner of the 2006 Kilroe Mile, and Hendrix, the runner-up in the Grade 1 Citation Handicap last November, carry 116 pounds. The weight assignment on Hendrix is moot because jockey Corey Nakatani, typically rides at 118 or 119 pounds.

Milk It Mick has started once this year, finishing fifth in the Kilroe, two lengths behind Kip Deville. Last year, Milk It Mick finished third in the Arcadia Handicap and was a troubled third in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs in May.

Mike Smith has the mount on Milk It Mick and raved to trainer Jim Cassidy about the 6-year-old's condition following a five-furlong workout in 1:00.60 on Santa Anita's turf course last weekend.

"Mike told me, 'You've done your job. Now I have to do mine,' " Cassidy said.

Milk It Mick is a stalker who should get an honest pace, thanks to Majestic Stream, a stakes winner in New Mexico last year, and Willow O Wisp, who frequently races from the front.

A strong pace also would help Porto Santo, a 4-year-old who has yet to win a graded stakes. In six starts in this country, his lone victory came in the restricted Bien Bien Stakes at Hollywood Park last November. Trained by Julio Canani, Porto Santo finished fourth in the Kilroe Mile.

"He ran okay the other day," Canani said. "I hope there is some speed in there."

With such a large field, racing luck will play a role for stalkers such as El Roblar and Icy Atlantic.

El Roblar won a division of the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar in 2005 but is winless in six subsequent stakes. He was seventh in the

$1 million Santa Anita Handicap on dirt on March 3.

"The mile should suit him pretty well," trainer Richard Mandella said. "I was honestly disappointed he didn't finish well in the handicap, but he kind of died under wraps behind a slow pace."

Icy Atlantic was a smart winner of an allowance race on March 3 and was second to Lava Man in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf on Jan. 27.

Providencia: Passified scares no one

The Grade 3 Providencia Stakes, the race after the Santa Anita Derby, has an intriguing field of 11 3-year-old fillies. The local stakes winners Passified (China Doll Stakes) Super Freaky (La Habra), and Valbenny (Blue Norther) face Silver Swallow, who finished second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in her stakes debut on March 11.

Cassidy starts Passified and Princess Iris, who finished fourth in the La Habra Stakes. Passified won the one-mile China Doll Stakes in a 23-1 upset, but has scared off few of the fillies from that race. Gotta Have Her, Mystic Soul, and Courtwood, who were third through fifth, return for the Providencia.

Trainer Bruce Headley kept Silver Swallow in California instead of trying a rematch against Santa Anita Oaks winner Rags to Riches in the Kentucky Oaks next month. The Providencia will be Silver Swallow's turf debut.