03/30/2009 11:00PM

Raiding Party auditions for stakes


ARCADIA, Calif. - Raiding Party gained trainer Jim Cassidy's respect quickly this year.

In her first two starts of the season, Raiding Party won a first-level allowance and finished second when she moved up to the next condition. If she wins a second-level allowance at Santa Anita on Thursday, Cassidy is considering a trip to Keeneland for the $100,000 Doubledogdare Stakes on April 17.

"She needs to run a great race," Cassidy said.

The race has drawn eight fillies and mares going a mile over the Pro-Ride.

A 4-year-old filly with three wins in eight starts, Raiding Party was winless in three starts on turf in late 2007 and 2008 after arriving from England in 2007. Cassidy said he thinks that Raiding Party is better on synthetic tracks than turf courses.

"I think she's on a roll on the main track," he said.

On March 6, Raiding Party finished second, 1 1/4 lengths behind the well-regarded Theodora after racing as far back as fourth in a field of seven.

Raiding Party will be near the front in Thursday's race. She may have company on the lead in Spinning Yarns, who has won two of her last three starts.

"I'd like to see her right with them," Cassidy said of Raiding Party. "She shuts off pretty good. It's not like she gets rank."

Hot n' Dusty closes from the back. A 4-year-old filly trained by Barry Abrams, Hot n' Dusty won an optional claimer for statebreds over a mile on turf on March 5 and returned to finish second by a nose in an allowance race over a mile on the main track on March 22.

"She's learning how to relax," Abrams said. "No one closed the other day and she came home very well."

Abrams said that another key to Hot n' Dusty's recent success has been fitting the filly with earmuffs to drown out extra noise.

"She was always scared of everything," he said.

Hot n' Dusty is eligible for a first-condition allowance race, and is running at a higher level on Thursday. If Hot n' Dusty wins, she will still be eligible for a race at the same level.

The field also includes the French stakes winners Anabaa's Creation, who is making her U.S. debut, and Ms. Margaret H., who was third in the Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga last August.