01/27/2011 5:59PM

Pica Slew may not show customary early speed in Santa Monica

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Pica Slew was an exceptionally fast filly at 3 last year, a season that included two stakes wins at Calder, notably the Grade 3 Azelea Stakes.

After an eighth as the 7-2 favorite in the Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga last August, a race in which she led early and faded, Pica Slew was sent to trainer John Shirreffs. The filly makes her first start for Shirreffs in Sunday’s $250,000 Santa Monica Stakes over seven furlongs.

Shirreffs does not expect Pica Slew to be wildly fast for her California debut.

“She always works behind another horse,” Shirreffs said. “I’d be surprised if she’s on the lead.”

Owned by Terra Di Sienna Stable, Pica Slew has won 3 of 5 starts. Shirreffs is her fourth trainer. She was trained by Greg De Gannes at 2, and by Joseph Calascibetta and Mike Hushion at 3.

Pica Slew is part of a Santa Monica field led by Switch, the winner of the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes over seven furlongs on Dec. 26. Other expected starters are Mother Ruth and Gilded Gem, the first two finishers of the Kalookan Queen Handicap on Jan. 7; and Sweet August Moon, the winner of the Rancho Bernardo Handicap last August.