01/19/2003 12:00AM

Got Koko victorious in El Encino


ARCADIA, Calif. - There is no doubt about Got Koko's ability in route races after her convincing win in Sunday's $150,000 at Santa Anita.

Despite a wide trip throughout the 1 1-16 miles, Got Koko rallied through the stretch to beat seven other 4-year-old fillies and score her second consecutive win in a graded stakes.

The victory moved Got Koko closer to a sweep of the three-race La Canada Series for fillies foaled in 1999. Got Koko won the first leg, the seven-furlong La Brea Stakes on Dec. 28, and will attempt to sweep the series when she reappears in the $200,000 La Canada Stakes over 1 1-8 miles on Feb. 8.

Got Koko's win in the El Encino provided winning jockey Alex Solis with a measure of relief. He realized on the backstretch how much ground Got Koko was yielding her rivals, and decided to make a move on the leaders.

"At the half-mile pole, I thought I have to make a decision," Solis said. "I moved a little early to make sure I got down inside. It wasn't too smart, but I had to do something."

Solis's decision to press forward may have been the difference. Got Koko was six-wide on the backstretch, but only three-wide on the final turn. She shook off Adoration and Bare Necessities in early stretch to win by 1 1-2 lengths over Bella Bellucci.

Sent off as the 2-1 favorite, Bella Bellucci rallied from sixth but could not catch the winner. Bare Necessities finished third, followed by Adoration, Ile de France, Glia, and Ponche de Leona. Ms Louisett was pulled up on the final turn.

Racing for Aase Headley, Paul Leung and trainer Bruce Headley, Got Koko ($8.40) was timed in 1:42.25. She has won 5 of 9 starts and $332,946. "She can go even longer," Solis said. "She's such a strong filly with a lot of talent."

Bruce Headley described the victory as "the most spectacular race I've won. She was wide on the first turn and wide on the backstretch and still won."