12/21/2002 1:00AM

Dahlia 'Cap ends in dead heat


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Using opposite running styles, Surya and Tout Charmant finished in a dead heat for first place in Saturday's $150,000 Dahlia Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Surya was on or near the pace for the final five furlongs, contending for the lead with stablemate Honestly Darling.

Tout Charmant, who had not won in 11 months, rallied from eighth in the final quarter-mile to finish on even terms with Surya after 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:44.55. The course was rated good after recent rains.

Surya ($2.60) was the even-money favorite on the strength of her third-place finish in the WinStar Galaxy Stakes at Keeneland in October. Ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, Surya jumped into the race on the backstretch when she challenged Honestly Darling. The two raced as a team through a half-mile in 50.31 seconds and 1:14.10 for six furlongs. Turning for home, Surya held a narrow lead, but could not shake clear of Honestly Darling.

Tout Charmant ($3.80) was eighth after six furlongs, while racing on the rail. Jockey Alex Solis moved her outside entering the stretch, but Tout Charmant was still trailing by five lengths. With a strong rally, Tout Charmant closed ground on the outside to catch Surya.

The pair finished a neck in front of 11-1 Honestly Darling, who was followed by Alozaina, Double Cat, Reine de Romance, I'm the Business, Miss Gazon, and Terna. Terna was vanned off.

The 6-year-old Tout Charmant has won nine of 29 starts and $1,781,879. The Dahlia was her first stakes win since the San Gorgonio Handicap last January at Santa Anita. Following that race, owners Robert and Janice McNair sent Tout Charmant to Kentucky to be bred. She did not become pregnant and was returned to trainer Ron McAnally over the summer.

Surya won the Royal Heroine Stakes in July over this course. A 4-year-old, Surya has won five of 10 starts and $400,971 for Flaxman Holdings and trainer Bobby Frankel.

The Dahlia was her third stakes win of the year. She won the Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap at Saratoga in August, a race transferred from turf to the main track.