02/19/2005 12:00AM

Count on Kota for solid run


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The 3-year-old division in trainer Bob Holthus's stable is not just limited to top colts like Grade 2 winner Greater Good. Holthus has an exciting filly in Kota, who will be making her seasonal debut Monday in the $50,000 Martha Washington at Oaklawn.

The one-mile race for 3-year-old fillies drew a field of six and will go as the 10th race on an 11-race holiday program. Kota should rule as the favorite on account of her second-place finish to Runway Model last out in the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27.

It was the latest in a long line of solid performances from Kota, who last year placed in five stakes, including third-place finishes in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie at Arlington in September and the $100,000 Pocahontas at Churchill Downs in November.

Her biggest win in her seven-race career was the $85,000 Anna M. Fisher Debutante at Ellis Park on Aug. 21.

"She's kind of an overachiever," said Holthus. "We bought her pretty reasonably in Ocala in April, and in fact, the first time we ran her we ran her in a claiming race. She's just matured and kind of been a surprise."

Kota, who was purchased for $47,000, made her career debut for a claiming price of $80,000 at Churchill and finished third. One start later, she won a maiden special weight race at Arlington. Kota raced close to the pace in that five-furlong race, but closed from last in the Golden Rod.

"She can lay anywhere you want," said Holthus. "She started rating kindly last fall."

Carlea invades from Fair Grounds and has a recency edge on Kota, having last raced Jan. 31. Carlea was a dominant winner of an entry-level allowance in her first start against winners and will make her two-turn debut in the Martha Washington.

Dimple Pinch gets back to two turns after closing for third last out in the $50,000 Dixie Belle at Oaklawn on Jan. 29. In his start before that, Dimple Pinch scored a 4 3/4-length win in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer at Hawthorne on Nov. 26.

* There will be no live racing at Oaklawn on Wednesday because of the holiday card. Racing will resume Thursday.