10/20/2003 11:00PM

Eclipses on line for Got Koko, Elloluv


ARCADIA, Calif. - When Got Koko and Elloluv crossed the wire first and second in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 28, their performances were overshadowed by the end of Azeri's 11-race winning streak. On Saturday, they can be the focal point of the story, in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Both Got Koko and Elloluv will be gunning for divisional titles in the Distaff, the first of the eight Breeders' Cup races on the program at Santa Anita. Got Koko can secure the Eclipse Award as champion older filly or mare, which Azeri earned last year when she won the Distaff at Arlington Park. Elloluv, with a victory, could become the champion 3-year-old filly, a division that has been begging for months for someone to come to the fore.

Got Koko and Elloluv both had their final works for the Distaff on Tuesday morning, and if you waited until the sun came up, you missed both drills.

According to trainer Bruce Headley, Got Koko worked at 4:45 a.m., only moments after the track opens for training. Alex Solis, the 4-year-old filly's regular rider, got out of bed early on a dark day of racing in order to work Got Koko. Did he make it on time?

"Oh yeah," Headley said. "He's always on the ball, that guy."

Got Koko worked five furlongs in 1:03. "Nice and easy," Headley said. "Just a tune-up. She came out really frisky."

Although Got Koko defeated Azeri in the Lady's Secret, Headley took no pleasure in seeing Azeri develop a tendon injury that will keep her out of the Distaff and likely lead to her retirement.

"I feel sorry for them," he said, referring to trainer Laura de Seroux and owner Michael Paulson. "It's a shame she was hurt. It's always sad to see something happen to a great mare like that. But that's the nature of the game."

Elloluv came on the track after the morning's first renovation break, at the early but far more sane hour of 6:30. With regular rider Corey Nakatani aboard, she zipped three furlongs in 36.60 seconds. Elloluv regularly trains at Hollywood Park, but trainer Craig Dollase brought her to Santa Anita on Monday, and will leave her here through the Breeders' Cup.

"She's on go," Dollase said. "She's really coming into it well."

The defection of Azeri changes the complexion of the race, giving the lineup less potential pace. Elloluv, a confirmed front-runner earlier in her career, showed the ability to rate just off the pace in the Lady's Secret.

"That has me excited," Dollase said. "It should make a difference in helping her go a little farther."

The Distaff is at 1 1/8 miles, 110 yards farther than the Lady's Secret.

"It will be interesting to see what tactics people use," Dollase said. "We'll make our decisions after the draw. There should be some speed in there, like with Adoration."

The draw was scheduled to take place Wednesday morning. The Distaff field is expected to be Adoration (Patrick Valenzuela the rider), Buy the Sport (John Velazquez), Elloluv (Nakatani), Got Koko (Solis), Lady Tak (Pat Day), Sightseek (Jerry Bailey), and Take Charge Lady (Edgar Prado).

Lady Tak arrived from Kentucky on Tuesday. Take Charge Lady is scheduled to arrive from Kentucky on Thursday.