01/25/2006 1:00AM

Stage Shy finds ideal spot to win first stakes


ARCADIA, Calif. - Throughout her career, Stage Shy has flirted with becoming a top-class filly.

She was favored to win a stakes in England in 2003, but finished seventh. Since joining trainer Neil Drysdale's stable two years ago, she has won three allowance races, but has lost three stakes.

A stakes breakthrough could occur in Friday's $75,000 La Zanzara Handicap at Santa Anita. The conditions fit Stage Shy: The race is run over 1 1/4 miles on turf for fillies and mares.

Stage Shy has five opponents - the entry of Aubonne and Barancella, Eternal Melody, Halo Ola, and Reality Show.

enters the race following a ninth-place finish under jockey Corey Nakatani in the Grade 2 San Gorgonio Handicap over 1 1/8 miles here on Jan. 8.

"The other day, Corey said she didn't handle the ground," trainer Neil Drysdale said. "The race was too short. She came back to work well."

Stage Shy worked six furlongs on turf Sunday in 1:14.40. "She needs a mile and a quarter," Drysdale said.

Stage Shy has run well in distance races in the past. She was a game third against males in the Grade 3 Carleton Burke Handicap over 1 1/2 miles here in October. Her three wins in this country have ranged in distance from 1 1/8 to 1 3/8 miles on turf.

Stage Shy is best as a stalker and will be following likely pacesetter Reality Show, who is making her stakes debut.

The other four starters have stakes experience.

won the Group 3 La Coupe Stakes over about 1 1/4 miles in France in 2004, but is winless in four starts in this country, all in graded stakes.

Aubonne is owned by Gary Tanaka, who also owns Barancella. Trained by Bobby Frankel, Barancella is seeking her first stakes win. She was second in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in 2004 and was fifth in the San Gorgonio.

Frankel also starts , who was second in an allowance race over a mile on turf here on Dec. 29. The race was her first start in 18 months.

Halo Ola is winless in 10 starts, since a Group 1 over about 1 1/4 miles on turf in Argentina in December 2004.