01/29/2007 12:00AM

Overly Tempting faces pace challenge


ARCADIA, Calif. - Overly Tempting is unbeaten in two starts. Naughtylilhottie, a former maiden claimer, ran a game second earlier this month, her first start in 16 months.

The two promising 4-year-old fillies meet for the first time in an optional claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita on Wednesday. Their identical styles of racing near the front will dictate the outcome of the race, which has a $50,000 purse.

Overly Tempting is likely to go favored in the field of seven fillies and mares. Trained by Bruce Headley, Overly Tempting won a seven-furlong maiden race by 7 1/2 lengths on Oct. 29 and returned to win a 6 1/2-furlong optional claimer for California-breds by a length on Jan. 11.

Naughtylilhottie has one victory in four starts. She won her debut in October 2005, and finished sixth and fourth in two starts before being turned out.

In her return on Jan. 4, Naughtylilhottie set a quick pace, never got clear, and was beaten a half-length by Smart Crowd. Trained by Bob Baffert for Lisa Garber, Naughtylilhottie has worked twice since her comeback race.

The other five in the field are not expected to be part of the pace.

Da Svedonya, who was second in the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper at Canterbury Park last July, is a closer expected to be at the back of the field early. She finished second to Overly Tempting on Jan. 11.

Rey Lake and Valid's Valid, who are both winless in their last eight starts, will race from off the pace. They may not be quick enough to play a substantial role. Noriska Number One will be a longshot.

My Little Monkey will be making her second start after a 10-month layoff. She finished fifth in an allowance race at 6 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park.

"She needed it," trainer Tim Yakteen said of the comeback race. "She should benefit with the race under her belt."

Yakteen said that My Little Monkey needed "some time off" in 2006 but did not undergo any surgery. Earlier in her career, she was fifth in the Sharp Cat Stakes and Santa Ynez Stakes.

My Little Monkey drew the rail in Wednesday's race, which only solidified Yakteen's strategy.

"I won't be going for the front," Yakteen said. "I'll try to make one run."