01/17/2008 12:00AM

Etoile de Dome fits well back against fillies


A big try against the boys and a return to facing fillies makes Etoile de Dome the one to beat in the $125,000 La Senora Handicap at Sunland Park. The six-furlong stakes for 3-year-old New Mexico-bred fillies drew a field of 11.

Etoile de Dome, trained by Chris Hartman, debuted with three straight solid outings last summer at Remington Park before breaking through in a maiden race on the turf there Oct. 12. That win came with the addition of blinkers, and the equipment change may have helped her turn the corner.

After that win, she shipped to Zia Park and was a romping winner of the New Mexico Juvenile Filly on Nov. 11 at 11-1. Hartman brought her back in the Red Hedeman Mile Handicap at Sunland on Dec. 29. It was not only Etoile de Dome's first try locally but her first race in about six weeks, her first at a mile, and she was facing males.

Etoile de Dome jumped right out to battle on the pace, held a narrow advantage most of the way, and finished second, 1 1/4 lengths behind Our Choice. She was three lengths clear of the rest of the field.

Casey Lambert rides Etoile de Dome, the 121-pound highweight.

One Bad Ghost got closest to Etoile de Dome when second in the New Mexico Juvenile Filly, though she was still beaten 5 1/2 lengths. One Bad Ghost has speed, so she figures prominent from the start here. She hasn't run since the New Mexico Juvenile Filly but has worked well of late for trainer Joel Marr and may be ready to fire her best shot off the bench.

Ask Me to Dance comes off a monster allowance win locally on Dec. 26. In her first start at Sunland, first try against winners, and first start in six months, she dueled early and powered home to win by 7 1/2 lengths while under a hand ride. She may be ready for this type of class hike.