04/11/2010 12:00AM

Gotta Have Her set for encore


ARCADIA, Calif. - Gotta Have Her has become a different mare since she won the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap at Santa Anita in April 2009.

She is no longer a secret. Gotta Have Her had the best campaign of her career in 2009, which included three stakes wins and an unlucky second to California Flag in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint here last November.

Gotta Have Her was 5-1 in the 2009 Las Cienegas Handicap. She will be favored when she makes her 2010 debut in the $100,000 Las Cienegas over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course on Sunday.

Owned by Green Lantern Stable, Gotta Have Her, 6, has not raced since the BC Turf Sprint, where she was beaten 1 3/4 lengths after being stuck in traffic twice in the final furlong. Trainer Jenine Sahadi refuses to dwell on what could have happened in that race if Gotta Have Her had gotten a better trip.

"She's a big girl, and when she gets stopped a couple of times it's not easy on her," Sahadi said. "I thought she ran unbelievable."

Sahadi considers the Las Cienegas as "a good place to start over." She envisions Gotta Have her racing in a combination of turf sprints and two-turn races this year. Last year, Gotta Have Her won the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Del Mar and was second in the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf there.

For the Las Cienegas, Gotta Have Her has worked steadily since mid-February.

"I lost some time with her in the winter, but we all did," Sahadi said, referring to the wet winter in Southern California.

The Las Cienegas, the fourth race on a nine-race program, has drawn a field of nine fillies and mares. Gotta Have Her will be tested by Unzip Me and U R All That I Am, the first two finishers of the Irish O'Brien Stakes for statebreds on the hillside turf course on March 20, and Annihilation and Czechers, the first two finishers of the Clocker's Corner Handicap on the hillside on March 14.

Annihilation is perfect in two starts this year and is a threat from off the pace, trainer Dan Hendricks said.

"She showed in her last race that coming from behind is better for her," he said. "She can beat better horses and go farther that way."