Updated on 09/16/2011 6:53AM

Amazon mare vs. petite filly, plus two

Email
Benoit & Associates
Kalookan Queen, a large 6-year-old, wins the Santa Monica. She's as good as ever going into the Las Flores.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Four fillies and mares entered the Grade 3 Las Flores Handicap on Saturday at Santa Anita, a six-furlong race that boils down to a classic David-and-Goliath battle between Above Perfection and Kalookan Queen.

Above Perfection is a diminutive California-bred who has yet to regain the form she maintained last season at 3, when she came within a neck of beating Xtra Heat. Kalookan Queen is a 6-year-old amazon who has never been better. Fresh from a half-length win in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap, she figures to start as the odds-on favorite in the $125,000 Las Flores.

Late-runner Warren's Whistle and allowance filly Enchanted Woods complete the field. Notwithstanding class deficiencies, both are compromised by circumstance. Late-runner Warren's Whistle needs a pace meltdown that is not likely to occur. Enchanted Woods requires an easy lead. She won't get it.

Instead, the Las Flores figures to unfold with Above Perfection on the lead and Kalookan Queen hounding her from the outside. Owned by David and Rita Milch, and trained by Darrell Vienna, Above Perfection has won 5 of 7 and earned $237,895. Considering her only two losses were Grade 1 races in which she contested blistering fractions, it might be wrong to suggest her form is disappointing.

Nevertheless, Above Perfection has failed to inspire the excitement she did in her 3-year-old season. Burned up in a suicidal pace battle Dec. 29 while starting for the first time in five months, Above Perfection shipped to Golden Gate Fields for what looked like an easy spot in a nongraded stakes Jan. 21. She won at odds of 1-2, but visually and numerically, her one-length margin and 95 Beyer fell short of expectations.

Assistant trainer Scott Chaney recognizes the challenge Above Perfection faces on Saturday. "On her best day, she can run with these fillies, [particularly] if she can repeat the Xtra Heat race," he said. As for her recent workouts, he said, Above Perfection "has trained really well, that was a dynamite work [Feb. 11] she had with Echo Eddie." Above Perfection is being considered for the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai.

Corey Nakatani rides Above Perfection, whose main rival will be in close pursuit. Kalookan Queen has won eight races and earned $603,834 from 14 starts, finishing second on six other occasions. The 6-year-old mare, owned by Louis Asistio and trained by Bruce Headley, carries

122 pounds, five more than Above Perfection. Alex Solis rides Kalookan Queen.

for Santa Anita entries.

Subscribers: to purchase past performances for Santa Anita.

Non-subscribers: to purchase past performances for Santa Anita.