01/02/2007 12:00AM

True Xena well prepared for allowance


ARCADIA, Calif. - More than a year ago True Xena made a winning debut at Santa Anita. But after a hard-fought second-place finish a month later in the Moccasin Stakes, she started to unravel.

Foot problems, perhaps owing to her large size, have been the Achilles' heel for True Xena. On Thursday, she returns to Santa Anita after five straight starts at Hollywood Park. More significantly, her trainer, Rafael Becerra, believes her feet are "as good as they can be."

Having benefitted from a solid comeback prep last month at Hollywood Park, True Xena should be ready for her best in Thursday's featured seventh race at Santa Anita.

"If she does well here, we're pointing for the Sunshine Millions," Becerra said.

First things first. True Xena needs to escape this $51,000 first-level allowance condition, where she has been stuck since defeating maidens in October 2005.

"She had little problems with her feet, and I kept hoping it would get better, hoping it would get better," Becerra said. "I had to stop. Now, she wears new glue-on shoes, and they help. She's the biggest filly in the barn, maybe the biggest horse in the barn."

True Xena finished second in a similar first-level allowance race at Hollywood Park on Dec. 10 under jockey Alex Solis. It was her first start in six months. That day, however, she had a cozy outside post. In Thursday's six-furlong race, she drew the rail.

"I wish I was outside," Becerra said. "I'll leave everything up to Solis. He knows her. She's got natural speed. I really like her. She's a nice filly."

True Xena will have to hold off Smart Crowd, who finished third in the Dec. 10 allowance after a rough trip. After being stuck on the rail last time, Smart Crowd landed the outside post Thursday in the field of nine.

Naughtylilhottie, who has not raced in nearly 14 months, figures to fire fresh for trainer Bob Baffert. She captured her debut in October 2005, then ran poorly in two subsequent starts.

"She had chronic shin problems," Baffert said. "We turned her out and let her heal up. Now she's going great guns."

Visit, who has sharp early speed, returns to the main track after a pair of turf sprints last fall. Two Times Won makes her first start since August 2005. She has finished in the money in all three of her starts at Santa Anita.