02/22/2004 12:00AM

Ema Bovary makes it eight straight


ARCADIA, Calif. - Ema Bovary won Sunday's $107,300 at Santa Anita in a manner that left veteran trainer Larry Ross stunned.

Scoring her eighth consecutive victory, Ema Bovary, the 121-pound topweight, overwhelmed five other fillies and mares, winning the Grade 3 Las Flores by 3 1/4 lengths over Buffythecenterfold, the 6-5 favorite.

Ridden by Roberto Gonzalez, Ema Bovary ($4.80) finished six furlongs in 1:08.02 on a wet-fast track.

"I was surprised she won as easy as she did," Ross said. "I thought it would be a real duel."

Icantgoforthat set an early pace of 21.29 and 43.81 seconds. Gonzalez had Ema Bovary in fifth on the backstretch, trailing by two lengths. Gonzalez guided Ema Bovary four-wide on the turn and quickly put away Buffythecenterfold.

Coconut Girl finished third, followed by Icantgoforthat, Sarasota and Channing Way.

The Las Flores was Ema Bovary's first graded stakes win in the United States and the first graded stakes win at Santa Anita for Ross, 52, who is based at Golden Gate Fields.

Owned by Rick Bael and Lana Ramsey-Broag, Ema Bovary has won 11 of 16 starts and $297,942. She was a minor stakes winner in Chile in 2002.

Ema Bovary's current winning streak includes seven stakes. In the Kalookan Queen Handicap here on Dec. 31, she finished second but was promoted to first after the stewards ruled that first-place finisher Royally Chosen caused interference in the stretch.

Ross said he has no plans for Ema Bovary, but says she may be too good to start in the Bay Area.

"She can't go back to Golden Gate," Ross said. "We've blown that."