01/09/2007 12:00AM

Overly Tempting short price off big win

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Overly Tempting might not be the biggest cinch of the meet, but there is no doubt that she is the lock of the card in race 6 Thursday at Santa Anita.

Eight California-bred fillies and mares sprint 6 1/2 furlongs, and if they all run to their figures, Overly Tempting should cruise in the first-level allowance/optional $32,000 claimer. She is a short-price single at about even-money.

Bettors who prefer evenly matched races - who doesn't - should wait for race 7. A second-level turf allowance at 1 1/8 miles, it attracted seven older horses, and they all have a chance.

Crested drops off a troubled trip in the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort, and may be the tepid choice. But if he has an advantage, it is minimal. Lightly raced Victory Sign makes his first start in two months for the red-hot Bobby Frankel barn, whose six winners (through Sunday) include five returning from layoffs.

Like Running Water is a potential pace play, and with the turf rails out at 24 feet, his speed may carry. Potential will be nipping at his heels, while Like a Tiger and Budha will pick them up late. Sacred Light, much improved since being gelded and switching to turf, also has a shot from behind.

The turf allowance is enough to make a bettor's head spin, which is fine because a race earlier little imagination is required. Expectations have always been high for Overly Tempting, a daughter of In Excess and a half-sister to California Cup Distaff winner Tempting Date.

But when Overly Tempting's shins flared up after a bullet work of five furlongs in 59 seconds last March, trainer Bruce Headley put her away. Overly Tempting made her debut Oct. 29 at Santa Anita, got hammered to even-money, and won by 7 1/4 lengths with a 95 Beyer Speed Figure.

Headley, along with owner-breeders Bud and Judy Johnston, nominated Overly Tempting to the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on Dec. 30.

"She needed a little more seasoning," Headley said, explaining why they passed the race. "When you're running against great competition, you'd better have seasoning."

While the La Brea field was not as good as Headley suggests, there is plenty of time later for stakes for Overly Tempting.

Meanwhile, she will be tough to beat Thursday if she runs another 95 Beyer. She will make her second career start under Alex Solis. Her maiden win was flattered when runner-up Kalamata returned to win twice. Overly Tempting drew the outside post and faces Excessive B and B, Perfect Rhyme, and closer Da Svedonya.