02/22/2005 12:00AM

No rain, but little to cheer


ARCADIA, Calif. - The good news about Thursday's program at Santa Anita is that it is not supposed to rain.

The bad news is that each of the eight races has nine entrants or fewer, there are no turf races, and the first four races have only five or six entrants.

All that is part of a frustrating winter in Southern California, which has been besieged by near-record rainfall for the past two months. Through Monday, 24 of the first 44 days of the meeting had been run on tracks listed as other than fast.

Seven of the eight races on Thursday are sprints. The top race is a $52,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs, which drew seven entrants.

The only filly coming off a win is Dis Miss, 4, who is entered for an $80,000 claiming price. Claimed for $62,500 in her last start, a win on the hillside turf course on Jan. 23, Dis Miss is now trained by Jack Carava for La Canada Stables.

A winner of 5 of 13 starts, raced in the Midwest last year, placing in two stakes at Prairie Meadows. Her recent win on the hillside was her third start in California, and her first victory.

The likely favorite in Thursday's feature is , the two-length winner of an allowance race at 6 1/2 furlongs on a wet-fast track on Jan. 2. She returned to finish fourth in a race at this level on Jan. 28, but had an excuse as she was in traffic at the quarter pole. Tyler Baze rides Argentinisima for trainer John Sadler.

Trainer Bruce Headley starts , who has won 2 of her last 5 starts, both over this track. A 6-year-old, she won a first-condition allowance race at six furlongs here last April but was sidelined until Jan. 28, when she finished seventh, three spots behind Argentinisma.

Borasca, Argentinisma, and Dis Miss are capable of setting the pace. That could help the chances of Sarasota, a four-time stakes winner in Argentina in 2003.

Since arriving in the United States in late 2003, Sarasota is winless in three starts, including a fifth in the Grade 3 Las Flores Handicap last February.

Claimed for $62,500 in August, Sarasota has made one start for her current owner and trainer, Joan Hadley and Kathy Walsh, finishing ninth in a turf sprint at Hollywood Park in November.

In Argentina, Sarasota won stakes from five to seven furlongs on dirt, including three group races.