01/01/2007 12:00AM

Cambiocorsa risks losing three in a row

Alex Evers
Cambiocorsa goes into the Monrovia on Monday off a rare two consecutive defeats.

ARCADIA, Calif. - A two-race losing streak is not uncommon for most racehorses. But it is not normal for Cambiocorsa, the 122-pound topweight in Monday's $100,000 Monrovia Handicap at Santa Anita.

With a remarkable record of 8 wins in 9 starts on Santa Anita's signature hillside turf course, Cambiocorsa went 15 months without suffering two consecutive losses. She lost four straight races in the summer of 2005 when she was not racing at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old mare has lost her last two starts - a third in the California Cup Distaff here in October and a 13th in the Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park in November.

Those losses give Cambiocorsa a hint of vulnerability for the Grade 3 Monrovia, run over about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf. But even with 13 rivals opposing her on Monday, trainer Doug O'Neill feels Cambiocorsa has an advantage on the hillside course.

"I think getting her back to the course she loves is important," he said. "This is what she wants.

"The early pace is key. Hopefully, we don't go crazy with two or three others."

Cambiocorsa is best from the front, and should not be hampered by her draw, post 14. She will have ample time to gain position before the field reaches the first turn.

Cambiocorsa, 5, could take early pressure from her archrival River's Prayer, the ultra-quick Bella Banissa, and Selvatica, who has won her last five starts.

River's Prayer won the California Cup Distaff in an 18-1 upset at the expense of Cambiocorsa. They were both part of the pace in the Matriarch Stakes and faded in the final furlong.

River's Prayer was also entered in Saturday's Grade 1 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Bella Banissa won an optional claimer from the front on this course in October. Selvatica won the restricted Manta Stakes over six furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 17, leading throughout.

A quick pace would be an ideal scenario for closers such as Costume Designer, Danclare, Honey Rose, Kitty Hawk, and Society Hostess.

Costume Designer, unraced since winning the Great Lady M Stakes at Hollywood Park in June, is likely to race just behind the leaders.

Society Hostess, the winner of three sprint stakes in 2006 in Kentucky and New York, was a fast-closing fifth in the Matriarch Stakes, losing by three-quarters of a length to Price Tag.