02/11/2004 12:00AM

'Annaliese' figures to get a good trip


ARCADIA, Calif. - Lady Annaliese deserves to be a short-priced favorite when she attempts to win her second stakes in Friday's $70,000 La Zanzara Handicap at Santa Anita.

In four starts since arriving from New Zealand, has won twice, including the minor Hermosa Beach Handicap at Hollywood Park in December. Her last race was a troubled second to Volga in the Grade 2 La Prevoyante Handicap at Calder on Dec. 27, a finish that did not discourage trainer Bobby Frankel.

"She got trapped a little on the rail," Frankel said. "The filly that beat us is a nice filly."

The La Zanzara Handicap for fillies and mares is run over 1 1/4 miles, a distance at which Lady Annaliese has excelled. Her stalking style will make her dangerous in a field of seven that includes top contenders Mer de Corail and Tangle.

Lady Annaliese is the 120-pound topweight and should get a good trip behind longshot pacesetters Go on Baby and Web Caster. In New Zealand, Lady Annaliese was third in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks in 2003.

Mer de Corail is winless in three starts since arriving from France last fall, but has kept good company. She finished fourth by a neck in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine last October, eighth in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood in November, and a troubled fourth in the Grade 2 San Gorgonio Handicap here on Jan. 10.

"The other day she was in a race with no pace," trainer Patrick Biancone said. "She pulled all the way and there was nothing left in the tank at the end."

Biancone said he was not surprised that Mer de Corail's form dipped after she arrived in the United States, but said she is in better condition approaching Friday's race.

"Sometimes, they run good off the plane and go down," Biancone said. "I think she's on the way up. I think a mile and a quarter is better for her, too."

In France, Mer de Corail won a minor stakes at Longchamp last September.

The race will be the Santa Anita stakes debut of Tangle, who is trying 1 1/4 miles for the first time. Trained by Craig Dollase, Tangle has finished second in two one-mile stakes - the Grade 3 Miesque in 2002 and the Appalachian at Keeneland last April.

In her only start since that race, Tangle won a first-condition allowance race by two lengths here on Jan. 16.