01/22/2009 1:00AM

One last dance for a pair of classy mares


ARCADIA, Calif. - The $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at Santa Anita on Saturday is the farewell race for Leah's Secret and Bai and Bai.

The two mares meet for the first time on Saturday and have had similar careers on opposite sides of the nation. Both are multiple stakes winners with bankrolls of more than a half-million and both are 6-year-olds who will be sent to Kentucky to be bred soon.

Each has a good chance to win the Distaff, which is run over 1 1/16 miles of Pro-Ride and is for California-breds and Florida-breds.

Leah's Secret, who has been in training with Todd Pletcher at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida this winter, will be favored. A Florida-bred, Leah's Secret has won her last two starts, both Grade 2 stakes - the Chilukki at Churchill Downs on Nov. 2 and the Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct on Nov. 28.

"She looks like a million dollars and acts like a million dollars," said Michael McCarthy, Pletcher's assistant in California. "She looks very competitive. Judging by her looks and her attitude, it would be very disappointing if she doesn't give a good account of herself."

Owned by WinStar Farms, Leah's Secret has won 8 of 25 starts and $865,805. Leah's Secret arrived in California on Wednesday and may leave for Kentucky on a flight on Sunday, McCarthy said.

In her recent stakes wins, Leah's Secret has run close to the pace and taken the lead in the final furlong.

"She places herself forward and it gives her a big advantage," McCarthy said.

While Leah's Secret has won graded stakes, Bai and Bai has only placed at that level. Bai and Bai also has a running style of stalking the pace, which has helped her compile a career record of 11 wins in 28 starts and earnings of $724,983.

Owned by Beverly Lewis, Bai and Bai won the Cat's Cradle Handicap for California-bred fillies and mares over 7 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park on Dec. 20, ending a three-race losing streak.

"I don't know if it was the one turn, the competition, or whatever," trainer Craig Dollase said.

Bai and Bai has won three stakes in the last year, and five in the last 17 months.

"She's been a delight to train," Dollase said. "She gives 110 percent every time. We got her graded-stakes-placed a couple of times and that helps her."

The field of 13 comprises seven California-breds and six Florida-breds. Aside from Leah's Secret, two other Florida-breds figure to be prominent in the betting.

Briecat won her third consecutive race in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood on Dec. 7. She is trained by Vladimir Cerin.

Amazing, trained by Terrance Oliver at Calder, will be after her fourth consecutive victory, having won two stakes at Calder in the fall. Amazing has not started since winning the Heubeck Distaff on Nov. 8, leading throughout 1 1/16 miles. This will be her first start on a synthetic track.