03/18/2011 1:12PM

Santa Paula the next step for Mildly Offensive


ARCADIA, Calif. – Mildly Offensive was such an easy winner in her debut last month that trainer Carla Gaines is unsure what to expect when the filly starts in Sunday’s $100,000 Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita.

“It’s always a little scary, the second race after a monster win,” Gaines said. “I have a feeling she’ll do good things.”

Gaines’s confidence stems from the style of Mildly Offensive’s victory on Feb. 19 when she disputed the early lead, took the lead on the turn and won a six-furlong maiden race by 4 1/4 lengths in 1:08.25.

Owned by Warren Williamson, Mildly Offensive has worked twice since that race, each time quickly, including five furlongs in 58.40 seconds last Sunday.

“She’s just amazing,” Gaines said. “Those works are within herself.”

Mildly Offensive has drawn the outside post of eight in the Santa Paula Stakes, which is run over 6 1/2 furlongs for 3-year-old fillies. Jockey Rafael Bejarano, who rode Mildly Offensive in the maiden race, retains the mount. He will have the option of sending Mildly Offensive to the lead, or racing as a stalker, Gaines said.

“I think the post is okay,” she said. “She’s just natural. She sat off that horse in her first start and pulled away. She wasn’t rank.”

Mildly Offensive will face a stern test in the Santa Paula from the speedy California Nectar, already a two-time stakes winner at this meeting. Trained by Doug O’Neill for Pablo Suarez, California Nectar won two seven-furlong races earlier at this meeting – the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes in December and the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes in January – but was last of five in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes over a mile on Feb. 5.

“It was two turns against Zazu and Turbulent Descent,” O’Neill said, mentioning the first two finishers. “It was a tough bunch to go against. We freshened her up a little bit. She’s training great and we’re back to one-turn.”

The field has one other stakes winner in Dawnie Macho, who won the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park last July but was eighth in the La Habra Stakes on the hillside turf course on Feb. 21, her first start of the year. Dawnie Macho is trained by John Sadler, who also starts Hout Bay, the winner of a maiden race in her debut on Jan. 22.

Hout Bay overcame a poor start to win by 1 1/2 lengths, and has been schooled in the starting gate in recent weeks, Sadler said.