03/27/2006 1:00AM

Mystery Girl may not run if it's wet


ARCADIA, Calif. - A sagging 3-year-old filly division welcomes a boost Wednesday at Santa Anita, where Del Mar Debutante

runner-up Mystery Girl returns from a five-month layoff in a first-level allowance.

The 5 1/2-furlong sprint goes as race 4 and includes speedball front-runner Exquisite Beauty and impressive debut winner So Long Sonoma. In race 7, a first-condition sprint for older fillies and mares, fast-working Vikki's Honor returns from a four-month layoff against racing-fit Charming Afleet and Da Svedonya.

has not raced since tiring to fourth in the $400,000 My Dear Girl Stakes on Oct. 15 at Calder. The effort was too bad to believe, and when trainer Chris Paasch scoped her afterward he found out why.

"She had a horrible throat infection that turned into ulcers," he said.

The best remedy was time, and Mystery Girl got plenty. Paasch kept her at Hollywood Park, kept her in light training while she recovered, then knuckled down. Mystery Girl, owned by Charles Cono, has responded to the workout pattern and returns fit.

"She's definitely up to the task Wednesday," Paasch said. "And if we end up with a bad track, she's up to the task Saturday."

Rain is in the forecast. Paasch could scratch Mystery Girl in favor of the Grade 2 Santa Paula Stakes, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday.

To win the allowance, Mystery Girl must catch , who is expected to improve second time out.

While Paasch expects Mystery Girl "to have a really good 3-year-old year," he and Cono may also have a really good spring with Kentucky Oaks candidate Diplomat Lady. Winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet, Diplomat Lady finished fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, a race that Paasch said he believes was not indicative of her true ability.

Diplomat Lady is likely to ship to Keeneland for the seven-furlong Beaumont on April 13.