02/12/2002 12:00AM

'Angel' looks like a weak favorite


ARCADIA, Calif. - Angel Angelique will hover at even money Thursday in the seventh-race feature at Santa Anita. Her attributes hit you on the head.

She is the only front-runner in the field. She finished second under virtually identical circumstances one month ago. She is drawn outside, racing at a sprint distance that favors speed, and facing only five rivals at the first allowance condition. Duh.

Despite obvious qualifications, however, there are reasons to believe Angel Angelique is a favorite that can be beaten. It would not be the first time. The 4-year-old Angel Angelique has lost two straight at short prices, and 6 1/2 furlongs is stretching her range even if she was not vulnerable - which she is.

Five other fillies and mares will try to knock off the chalk in the $50,000 first-level allowance. They are Our Here Tiz and Wild Tickle, late-running upset winners last time out; comebackers Sea Cruise and Mamselle Nanette; and Pine Lake Lady, another come-from-behinder shortening to her preferred sprint distance. If any of the outsiders win, it will be because the favorite misfired.

Trained by Marty Jones and owned in part by her breeder, Eddie Nahem, Angel Angelique romped first out last June. Three weeks later, she reproduced the effort and pounded Cal-bred allowance fillies. Rapidly improving, she hit Del Mar in peak form. One formula for failure, however, is to ask a horse to do more than she is prepared to do. Angel Angelique was pitched to the she-wolves in her third start, starting as a 13-1 longshot against Above Perfection and Lighten Up Tiny in the seven-furlong Fleet Treat Stakes.

She set a blistering opening fraction of 22.13 seconds, pressed a severe 44.76 half, and surrendered. Angel Angelique beat one horse to to the finish. She resurfaced at the first allowance level while looking nothing like the Angel Angelique of old. In her last two starts, Angel Angelique's pace figures have declined. They remain below par for the first condition. Her speed figures have declined, and remain below par.

When she races Thursday, Angel Angelique and jockey David Flores should be loose on the lead. Eight of the last 17 races at 6 1/2 furlongs have been won gate to wire. The profile plays to the favorite's strength.

The profile, however, reveals nothing about Angel Angelique's perceived form defects. If the analysis is accurate, Angel Angelique is ripe to be upset.

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