Updated on 09/15/2011 12:45PM

Speedy Paga makes U.S. debut

Benoit & Associates
Bob Baffert trains Minor Details.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Paga, a multiple stakes winner in Argentina last year, will not have an easy time in her U.S. debut, Wednesday's $75,000 Osunitas Handicap at Del Mar.

With an overflow field of 14, which will be limited to 10 starters, the front-running Paga will be challenged throughout the Osunitas, run at 1 1/16 miles on turf for fillies and mares.

Trained by Richard Mandella, Paga was Argentina's top miler in 2000, winning three stakes at that distance. The Osunitas will be the longest race of her career, which includes four wins in six starts.

"She's kind of a speedball," Mandella said. "She's always right on the pace and has run some fast miles."

Paga has not started since winning a Group 1 against males last December. She has worked well on turf in recent weeks at Hollywood Park and Del Mar, often partnered by jockey Mike Smith, who has the mount on Wednesday.

"Mike has gotten to know her pretty good in the mornings," Mandella said.

The Osunitas Handicap is restricted to fillies and mares who have not won a first-place purse of $50,000 at a mile or over this year. Consequently, there are no major stakes winners from 2001 in the field, but there are several horses who have run well in recent starts.

Matiere Grise, trained by Darrell Vienna, was third in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap last March and third in her last start, the Palo Alto Handicap at Bay Meadows in June. Dianehill was an unlucky second in the Grade 3 Royal Heroine Stakes on July 7 at Hollywood Park. She led by a length in midstretch, but lost by a head to Kalatiara.

Minor Details was third in the Grade 1 Ramona Handicap, losing by a half-length to Janet after leading for most of the 1 1/8 miles. Trained by Bob Baffert, she last won a stakes 19 months ago, the minor Blue Norther stakes at Santa Anita.

Timi, the winner of the 2000 Italian Oaks, makes her third start for trainer Neil Drysdale. She will be ridden by Italian jockey Mirco DeMuro, who was aboard for her Italian Oaks victory. The Osunitas will be Timi's second stakes appearance in the U.S.; she was last of six in the Grade 1 Ramona Handicap.

"I think she'll be more settled this time," Drysdale said. "She was very fresh. This might be a little easier race, too. We're hoping."

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