12/23/2003 1:00AM

Elloluv out to rock the vote

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Can Elloluv sway Eclipse Award voters in Saturday's La Brea?

ARCADIA, Calif. - Craig Dollase knows that he is sending out more than the favorite in Saturday's $250,000 at Santa Anita. He might be making a final, last-second plea to contemplative Eclipse Award voters.

Dollase trains Elloluv, who is one of the leading candidates for champion 3-year-old filly. Because of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's insistence that balloting be completed by Monday, two days before the actual end of the calendar year, many Eclipse Award voters already have filled out their ballots and sent them back. Many more, however, are awaiting the results of the Grade 1 La Brea, since it rightly should be considered among Elloluv's accomplishments this year.

She has accomplished a lot. Elloluv won the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland in April, was fourth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, won the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita, and finished second in three other Grade 1 races, including the Breeders' Cup Distaff against older runners. Unlike most of her Eclipse Award rivals, she has raced all year, beginning on Jan. 20.

"Hopefully, the voters will look at how consistent she has been all year," Dollase said Tuesday morning from his barn at Hollywood Park, where he is based. "I think the voters should take this race into consideration, especially if she beats them. She's run all year. She's run against older horses. There's a lot of pluses.

"If the voting's as close as it seems, maybe some are waiting to put their votes in. It's a challenge, and there's pressure. It's a big-time deal."

It will not be an easy race for Elloluv. Ten other 3-year-old fillies entered the La Brea, a seven-furlong race that kicks off the three-race La Canada Series for females foaled in 2000. The field includes Alabama Stakes winner Island Fashion, the swift Eastern-based sprinter Randaroo, and multiple stakes winner Buffythecenterfold. The La Brea is the seventh race on the nine-race card.

Elloluv most recently finished second to the older filly Adoration in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Dollase decided to freshen her and turn her back to a sprint, a move he successfully made with Elloluv prior to the Santa Ynez, another seven-furlong race, earlier this year.

"She's got natural speed," Dollase said. "She can put herself right in the race."

Island Fashion comes off a deceptively strong effort in the Matriarch Stakes, in which she finished fourth while beaten less than one length by some of the best female grass runners in the country, including Heat Haze. A well-traveled filly, Island Fashion has competed at eight different tracks in her nine starts.

"She came out of the Matriarch super," said Marcelo Polanco, who now trains Island Fashion. "She's very sharp. I expect a good race. Now she's going only against 3-year-olds."

Randaroo is heading west for the La Brea in the midst of a three-race win streak. She beat older runners in Belmont's First Flight Handicap and Aqueduct's Top Flight Handicap in her last two starts, and she has finished first or second in 9 of 11 starts.

Buffythecenterfold is also returning to a race restricted to her own age group after finishing second to older runners in the Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap on the hillside turf course here in October. She has turned in a series of blazing works for her return for trainer Mel Stute.

An intriguing longshot is Acago, who rallied with authority to finish fifth, beaten a little more than one length, in the Matriarch. That was her first start with Lasix, and for trainer Richard Mandella. This will be her first start on dirt, however. She quickly will have to get used to running into the spray of dirt, because she drew the rail.

Stellar won the Very Subtle Handicap on the Breeders' Cup undercard during Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

Atlantic Ocean is making her first start since August. Trained by Bob Baffert, she has won both her starts at Santa Anita, and has had bullet drills three times in the past month.

"She's training great," Baffert said.

The field

La Brea Stakes

Purse: $250,000; 7 furlongs (turf); Grade 1

PPHORSEJOCKEYWT.ODDS
1AcagoV. Espinoza11710-1
2Hope RisesD. Flores11515-1
3BuffythecenterfoldA. Solis11912-1
4Princess VJ. Valdivia11720-1
5ElloluvC. Nakatani1212-1
6Gone ExclusiveG. Stevens11712-1
7Atlantic OceanP. Valenzuela1216-1
8RandarooH. Castillo1195-1
9 StellarM. Smith11910-1
10Bartok's BlitheE. Ramsamy12120-1
11Island FashionK. Desormeaux1239-2

* Odds by Jim Kachulis