Updated on 09/17/2011 10:09AM

Secret Liaison one to catch

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Secret Liaison, returning from a seven-month break, had a tough reintroduction to racing when she finished sixth in the Las Flores Handicap on Feb. 22.

She was wide for much of the six-furlong race and contributed to a fast-paced half-mile in 43.81 seconds. It was understandable that she faded from contention late and lost by 7 1/4 lengths.

Secret Liaison, a 5-year-old, returns in Wednesday's $75,000 Pine Tree Lane Stakes at Santa Anita. Her trainer Ted H. West thinks she will be better after the recent start.

"I don't think she puts that much into her training," West said. "We thought we had her fit. Mike Smith said she was so athletic that she can work in 58 seconds easily.

"She didn't have the best of trips in her last race. She was wide and went in 43."

Secret Liaison drew the outside in the field of five in the Pine Tree Lane.

Brisquette will be a strong favorite. A 5-year-old trained by Richard Mandella, she is seeking her first stakes win, following a second by a neck in the Las Flores Handicap. The fast pace of that race helped Brisquette, who rallied from five lengths off the pace to just miss catching the winner, Spring Meadow.

There will be ample pace to help Brisquette in the Pine Tree Lane.

Maria's Mirage, who drew the rail, is coming off a win in the six-furlong Cactus Flower Handicap at Turf Paradise on March 8. She was the front-running winner of an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs in the first week of the meet in December.

Shameful, seventh in the Las Flores, will be near the lead. A 4-year-old trained by Bob Baffert, she is trying for her first stakes win, having placed in four stakes. In January, she finished second in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park, leading until deep stretch before losing by a neck to Madame Pietra.

Wild Tickle can lead but she is also effective as a stalker. She finished in a dead-heat for third in the Las Flores Handicap.

Whether Wild Tickle or Brisquette is a factor in the stretch depends partially on whether one of the front-runners can get an easy lead. West, for one, knows what to expected from Secret Liaison. She will be prominent throughout.

"I think we've got one way to go," he said.

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