04/13/2005 11:00PM

Chinese Dragon looks scary

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ARCADIA, Calif. - The $100,000 La Puente Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday could very easily be a repeat of the Pasadena Stakes on March 19. In a five-horse field, there are not a lot of finishing combinations.

The La Puente has drawn the first three finishers from the Pasadena - Chinese Dragon, Eastern Sand, and Shamoan - and two outsiders, Cat a Cold Eye and Goodwillambassador.

The La Puente nearly did not originally fill. As of late Thursday morning, the race was stuck with three entries and was nearly canceled, but the supplemental entries of the maiden Goodwillambassador and the claimer Cat a Cold Eye saved the race.

is a standout. Trained by Bob Hess, Chinese Dragon has won three consecutive races after finishing seventh in a maiden race in his career debut last July in Ireland.

The winning streak began with a maiden race in Ireland last August and includes two races at this meeting, beginning with an allowance race Feb. 5.

Chinese Dragon was bought for $150,000 at a sale in England last fall.

"He was the only horse I bid on, and I think there were 1,400 horses there," Hess said.

In the Pasadena, Chinese Dragon rallied from 10th in a field of 12 to win by 2 1/2 lengths. He swooped past Eastern Sand and Shamoan in the final quarter-mile.

"He has a wonderful pedigree and he's a lovely horse," Hess said. "Hopefully, he'll be a great horse."

The Pasadena marked the third time that Eastern Sand has placed in a turf stakes; it was Shamoan's stakes debut.

Even though those two ran well, Chinese Dragon figures to be a short-priced favorite in the La Puente, run at 1 1/8 miles on turf for 3-year-olds.

Hess said he hopes Chinese Dragon can solidify his position as a top turf 3-year-old.

"I think the issue is firmer turf," Hess said. "Distance should not be a problem, but it is a question. There is a lack of pace. He went wire to wire in Ireland, but that wasn't his style."