03/30/2007 11:00PM

Time for Magnificience's encore

Benoit & Associates
After breaking slowly, Magnificience won her debut by 6 1/2 lengths.

ARCADIA, Calif. - A spectacular debut by the 3-year-old filly Magnificience generated a feel-good buzz March 11 at Santa Anita. Magnificience broke slowly, raced greenly, and trailed by 10 lengths after the first quarter-mile of the sprint.

No problem. The blaze-faced chestnut leveled off into the turn, sizzled through the turn with a 22-second middle quarter, ran past the rest of the field at the head of the lane, and won by 6 1/2 lengths while under a hold from Alex Solis. Wow.

Asked if he ever had a maiden win like that, owner-trainer Bruce Headley shook his head.

"Nobody has, not even me," he said. "Everyone from fans to old-time horsemen said they have never seen anything like that. It really started an adrenaline rush for horse lovers."

Magnificience, who ran the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.62 and earned an outstanding 96 Beyer Figure, returns Sunday at Santa Anita. Despite her inexperience, the Stormy Atlantic filly rates marquee billing in the Grade 3, $100,000-added Santa Paula Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Headley, however, recognizes the challenge.

"[John] Sadler has two fillies in there that are seasoned," Headley said, referring to speedball Coco Belle and graded stakes winner Jump On In. The fastest is Coco Belle, whose Feb. 1 allowance romp earned a 102 Beyer.

Jump On In won the Grade 2, seven-furlong Santa Ynez on Jan. 15, then finished last in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes around two turns. She benefits from a return to a sprint. Other starters in the five-runner Santa Paula include Swiss Diva and Adoradora.

Magnificience was purchased for only $120,000 at the 2005 Keeneland fall sale.

"There are 5,000 horses; some fall through the cracks," Headley said to explain the price.

Headley was listed as sole owner when Magnificience made her debut. Since then, her fan base and ownership have grown. Headley said that Irwin Molasky, John Sikura, and Tom Lenner have joined him as owners of Magnificience.

A long, tall filly with a relaxed and confident demeanor, Magnificience worked three furlongs Thursday in 33.80. With a clean start Sunday in the Santa Paula, Magnificence will be very tough to beat.

Coco Belle, because of her speed and experience, is the main rival for Magnificience. The 2-for-4 Coco Belle is a rocket who routinely races the opening half-mile in 44.20. Garrett Gomez rides Coco Belle. Jump On In will be ridden by Corey Nakatani.