07/28/2002 12:00AM

Affluent hangs on to win Ramona

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Scoring her first stakes win in six months, Affluent held off a late rally from Golden Apples to win Saturday's $400,000 Ramona Handicap at Del Mar.

The Grade 1 Ramona was Affluent's first win since the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes at Santa Anita in January. She subsequently lost four major stakes to Azeri and Summer Colony, who are widely considered the nation's top older females.

Affluent won the fifth stakes of her career in the Ramona, improving her record to seven wins in 17 starts. She has earned $1,287,080 for owner Janis Whitham.

Ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye, Affluent ($7.80) ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:48.37.

The third choice in the betting, Affluent was second for the first mile, chasing Janet who set modest fractions of 24.66 and 49.66 seconds. Janet looked like a winner with a two-length lead in midstretch, but Affluent caught her in the last 50 yards. She won by a neck over Golden Applies, who closed from last in the field of seven fillies and mares.

"I told Eddie not to let her get away," trainer Ron McAnally said of Janet.

"When they open up, they're hard to catch. Eddie knew what he had left."

Golden Apples weaved her way through traffic in the final furlong to just miss.

"She was the best horse, but it didn't set up well," said trainer Ben Cecil.

Janet held third, followed by Surya (the 8-5 favorite), Canzone, Crazy Ensign and Snowflake.