03/27/2009 12:00AM

Mullins has potent one-two punch


ARCADIA, Calif. - Carlsbad does not look like an undefeated three-time stakes winner.

"She's just a plain, little brown filly," trainer Jeff Mullins said.

Her looks are deceiving. After winning four races at Turf Paradise by a combined 50 lengths, Carlsbad gets tested for class Sunday at Santa Anita in the Grade 3 Santa Paula Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

"She's in against real competition this time," Mullins said. "We'll find out how good she is."

She was very good for her previous trainer Kevin Lewis, and after Carlsbad won the $50,000 Arizona Oaks by more than 13 lengths, owner-breeder Dennis Weir shipped her to California.

She has not missed a beat since arriving, according to Mullins.

"Tyler Baze worked her twice, and Joe Talamo worked her, and they both like her," he said.

Baze will ride, and if her morning workouts transfer to afternoon performance, Mullins is hopeful Carlsbad can make an impact on this circuit.

"This race will tell a lot," he said.

A good field entered the 6 1/2-furlong Santa Paula; a one-two Mullins finish is not inconceivable. Mullins also trains front-runner Empressive Lady, who raced gate to wire Feb.o11 in a fast allowance. She is the speed of the speed.

"She's one of those you don't really want to send, but you can't really take hold of her," Mullins said. "You just have to let her do it on her own and don't fight with her."

Empressive Lady has won 2 of 6 for owner Michael House. Alex Solis will ride.

The six-horse Santa Paula lineup is completed by 2-for-2 closer Heartless Vixen, 3-for-4 closer Beltene, 4-for-6 Northern California stakes winner Ultra Blend, and Pinkarella.

Heartless Vixen followed her low-rated debut victory with a smashing 4 1/4-length allowance win March 5 for trainer Ron Ellis. The expected pace scenario flatters Heartless Vixen and Beltene.

Beltene won three sprints, including the Sunshine Millions Oaks, before missing by 2o1/4 lengths in the Santa Anita Oaks. Trainer Jack Carava said "she probably wasn't fully prepared to run long" and added "I know it's a tough race, but she should run well."

Ultra Blend is back with fillies after finishing third against colts in the King Glorious at Golden Gate. Pinkarella set the pace in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes on Feb. 7 before she faded. She will contest the pace.