01/14/2005 12:00AM

Alternatives to A.P. Adventure exist


ARCADIA, Calif. - A.P. Adventure's five stakes races, including two wins, look better on paper than they looked on the track, yet the widespread sentiment will not prevent her from being favored Sunday in the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes for 4-year-old fillies.

A field of eight entered the 1 1/16-mile race, and standard handicapping suggests that , trained by Wally Dollase, is the right filly. After all, she is dropping into a race for 4-year-olds, and her Beyer Speed Figures in the mid-90's surpass those of most of her rivals.

But what does not show up in A.P. Adventure's record is her grinding, one-paced style, in which she mostly spins her wheels in the final part of a race. Make no mistake, A.P. Adventure possesses above-average ability, and a Grade 1 victory last winter in the Las Virgenes Stakes makes the daughter of A.P. Indy worth a fortune as a broodmare for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis.

But even with a new, stronger jockey in Rene Douglas, A.P. Adventure may be worth wagering against. There are sensible alternatives in the field of eight, including turf-to-dirt Penny's Fortune and sprint-to-route Elusive Diva. The remaining entrants are A Song in A Minor, Shake Off, Tarlow, Girl Warrior, and Red Top.

"A.P. Adventure is a nice filly, but our filly has improved every race," said trainer Jenine Sahadi, whose Penny's Fortune will switch surfaces and jump up in class after winning three of her last four on turf. A daughter of Storm Cat, Penny's Fortune is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Old Trieste and has won 4 of 11.

"She's got pedigree to run as well on the dirt, but it's so different from running on it in the morning to the afternoon," said her jockey, Jose Validivia Jr. "Competition makes a difference."

While Penny's Fortune faces a surface dilemma, Elusive Diva faces a distance issue. Third in the Grade 1 La Brea at seven furlongs, Elusive Diva entered the El Encino because of her speed. "I think she fits very good from a pace scenario," said her trainer, Mark Glatt. "It looks like there's going to be zero pace."

However, that was before front-runner threw her hat into the ring, and Glatt later admitted, "That changes my thinking."

Perhaps it should not. Elusive Diva drew the outside post, where she can press the pace in the clear. If she can relax outside, the El Encino is a race she can win. The last time she routed was last summer, when she finished second in the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks.