02/11/2007 1:00AM

Balance victorious in La Canada


ARCADIA, Calif. - Balance won her third graded stakes at Santa Anita in Sunday’s $200,000 La Canada Stakes, a victory that puts her on course for a try for a fourth in the $300,000 Santa Margarita Handicap on March 10.

Making her first start of 2007 and second start since returning from ankle surgery, Balance ($4.40) won the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths, pulling away from Bai and Bai in the final furlong. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Balance ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.41.

Balance stalked the pace while racing in fifth for the first six furlongs, and rallied three-wide on the final turn to reach contention. “She was in the bridle and dragged me to the first turn,” Espinoza said.

At the finish, Bai and Bai held second, three-quarters of a length in front of Les Ry Leigh in the field of six 4-year-old fillies.

Balance has won 5 of 10 starts and $720,159 for John and Jerry Amerman and trainer David Hofmans. Last year, she won two Grade 1 stakes here – the Las Virgenes Stakes and the Santa Anita Oaks.

Hofmans said that Balance had trained well since a third-place finish in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on Dec. 30. “She’s been wanting to do something for about a week,” he said.