04/04/2006 11:00PM

Two of the best cross paths again


ARCADIA, Calif. - The campaigns of Behaving Badly and Leave Me Alone seem intertwined this year.

Two of the leading female sprinters in the country, they finished first and third in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap in late January. Friday at Santa Anita, they meet in the $83,000 Bug Brush Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs. The race could be a prep to the $350,000 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on May 6 for both of them.

The Bug Brush is the second race on a program that begins at 3 p.m.

Since the Santa Monica, has won the Grade 3 Las Flores Handicap in February, while Leave Me Alone was given a break.

Trainer Eric Kruljac said he is hoping Leave Me Alone's vacation will help her return to her outstanding form of 2005, which was highlighted by a win in the Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga.

"She has been yelling and screaming to race," Kruljac said. "I was trying to train her for the California Gold Rush [on April 30] or the Humana Distaff, but she's feeling so good. I thought it was a perfect time to run for a good purse. The distance is perfect."

Kruljac said that Leave Me Alone's runner-up finish to Pussycat Doll in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on Dec. 31 was a more taxing performance than initially thought.

"She was a little bit flat for the Santa Monica," he said. "She had a long, hard 3-year-old campaign. She was 100 percent for the La Brea, but I think it took something out of her.

"I wanted to give her a good long period off. Hopefully this is a long enough break that she can start a 2006 campaign from this point."

drew post 4 among the eight fillies and mares in the Bug Brush Stakes. She is likely to be near the front, but unlikely to keep pace early with the speedy Behaving Badly, who drew the rail.

"She's fast and she'll be gone," trainer Bob Baffert said of Behaving Badly.

Owned by Hal and Patti Earnhardt, Behaving Badly was being considered for a stakes at Keeneland this month until Baffert remembered that she had finished eighth in the TCA Stakes at Keeneland last fall.

"She ran so poorly at Keeneland," Baffert said. "At Keeneland, you don't know what to expect with the weather."

Behaving Badly will be heavily favored on Friday. She won the Las Flores by 4 3/4 lengths over Awesome Lady, another runner in the Bug Brush Stakes.