01/06/2009 1:00AM

Sugar Mint looks like class of this field


ARCADIA, Calif. - Sugar Mint spent last year chasing many of the best 3-year-old fillies in England.

Sugar Mint will make her U.S. debut in a $48,000 allowance race on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on Thursday, a race she is overqualified to win. Sugar Mint has one victory in nine starts, but has run in three Group 1 stakes in her career and has been stakes-placed once.

Early impressions on trainer Jerry Hollendorfer are favorable.

"Her workouts have been fairly rapid and well within herself," Hollendorfer said.

Recently purchased by William de Burgh, Sugar Mint has not started since finishing ninth in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, England, on Aug. 2. She was noted to have sweated considerably before that race and was not helped when she missed the break. Earlier in 2008, Sugar Mint finished 12th in the English Oaks.

Aside from a maiden win in Bath, England, last year, Sugar Mint's best performance was a second in the Cheshire Oaks at Chester Racecourse, a prep to the English Oaks.

Thursday's race, run at about 6 1/2 furlongs, will be the shortest of Sugar Mint's career. She was second in a seven-furlong maiden race in England at 2 in August, 2007. The shorter distance is a slight concern for Hollendorfer.

"We want to pick a starting point, and this is the starting post that I picked," Hollendorfer said. "If it's wrong, it's wrong. I think she can run short and long."

The only filly with comparable experience is Grace Anatomy, who is on the also-eligible list. The race drew a field of 14, but has a safety limit of 10 starters. Trained by Doug O'Neill, Grace Anatomy has not started since finishing fifth in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap at Del Mar last July. Grace Anatomy was third in the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland in October 2007.

There are three other intriguing fillies returning from layoffs.

Everlasting Beauty will be making her first start for trainer Mike Mitchell following a maiden win for Steve Asmussen at Remington Park in October.

Linda Lou, trained by Richard Mandella, has not started since winning a six-furlong maiden race on turf at Hollywood Park in November.

Theodora finished sixth in the Grade 2 Providencia Stakes at a mile on turf here last April. Trained by John Shirreffs, Theodora has worked quickly at Hollywood Park in recent weeks.