10/05/2004 11:00PM

'Persuasion' now has race under belt

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Saintly Persuasion had a right to get tired when she finished third in the Piedra Foundation Handicap at Del Mar on Sept. 2. The race marked her first start in more than 10 months, and she led through a decent pace before fading in the final sixteenth.

The experience from that race could lead to a win for Saintly Persuasion in a $48,000 allowance race at Santa Anita on Friday. Run as the seventh race on an eighth-race program, the allowance is run over 1 1/16 miles. First post is 2:30 p.m. Pacific.

Trained by John Shirreffs, has made just five starts in a career that began in May 2003. The third-place finish in the Piedra Foundation ended a two-race winning streak: Saintly Persuasion beat maidens at Del Mar in August 2003 and won an allowance race at Santa Anita in October 2003.

Friday's race has drawn a strong field of seven. Saintly Persuasion is expected to take her customary place on the lead, but may have company.

is a threat on the front. Trained by Bruce Headley, Lucky in Love finished third in the E.B. Johnston Stakes and fourth in the Las Madrinas Handicap during the Los Angeles County Fair meeting at Fairplex Park last month.

, trained by Neil Drysdale, has won on the lead. She won an optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles at Del Mar on Aug. 11, her most recent start.

The stalkers are Gold Player and Love in Brazil, while La Scala and Lady Thatcher will close from off the pace.

Gold Player is making her first start for trainer Jeff Mullins, having previously been trained by Mark Hennig for owner Edward Evans. Gold Player was third in the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park in February 2003. She is winless in three starts since scoring in an allowance race at Aqueduct in April.

Lady Thatcher is a late threat. She closed from seventh to finish second in the Las Madrinas on Sept. 24.

La Scala is making her first start on the main track. Trained by Bobby Frankel, she was a troubled fifth in an optional claimer at Del Mar on Sept. 2.

Love in Brazil is the most accomplished of the starters, having won a Group 2 stakes in Brazil earlier this year. But her last start was a last-place finish in a field of eight in an optional claimer on turf at Del Mar on Sept. 2.