04/04/2004 12:00AM

Frankel wins third straight Las Cienegas

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Etoile Montante gave trainer Bobby Frankel his third consecutive win in the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap on Sunday.

Frankel won the Las Cienegas with Rolly Polly in 2002 and with Heat Haze last year. Heat Haze and Etoile Montante are owned by Juddmonte Farms.

In Sunday's running, worth $112,800, Etoile Montante won by a half-length over Dedication after the pair dueled through the final furlong. Ridden by Javier Santiago, Etoile Montante ($4.40) ran about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf in 1:13.32.

Any For Love, a 12-1 shot, finished third in the field of nine fillies and mares.

Etoile Montante stalked pacesetter Petite Histoire on the hillside, contended for the lead in early stretch and was fully extended to beat Dedication.

A winner of 6 of 11 starts and $306,808, Etoile Montante, 4, raced in France for most of last year in a campaign highlighted by a win in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret. In her U.S. debut last fall, she was 11th as the favorite in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Frankel said Etoile Montante will be pointed for the Distaff Turf Mile on turf at Churchill Downs on May 1, which Heat Haze won in 2003.

*Hope Rises ($8.40) won her first stakes in the restricted $85,725 Santa Lucia Handicap for fillies and mares, holding off a fierce rally from Summer Wind Dancer.

Ridden by David Flores, Hope Rises stalked pacesetter Royally Chosen to the final turn before taking the lead. Hope Rises won by a head, finishing 1 1/16 miles on dirt in 1:43.42. Pesci finished third in the field of seven, five lengths behind Hope Rises.

Hope Rises has won 4 of 6 starts and $153,735 for Jay Em Ess Stable and trainer Ron Ellis.