01/27/2005 12:00AM

House of Fortune's health woes behind her


House of Fortune won three stakes in 2004, but her campaign ended on a sour note with a last-place finish in the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland in October.

She was later found to be suffering from a severe throat ulcer, trainer Ron McAnally said.

Since then, McAnally has monitored House of Fortune's health closely, and pronounced her to be in outstanding shape for a return in Saturday's $500,000 Distaff at Santa Anita.

McAnally's confidence grew last Sunday when House of Fortune's throat was examined after a seven-furlong workout.

"We scoped her throat and they liked what they saw," McAnally said of a veterinary exam. "Everything was clean."

McAnally thinks that the illness may have started last summer, before House of Fortune finished second in the Clement Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar in early August.

"I really think she had it coming on when she ran at Del Mar," he said. "She really didn't run her race."

Owned by Arnold Zetcher, House of Fortune must be at her best in the Sunshine Millions Distaff, which is for California-breds and Florida-breds at 1 1/16 miles.

House of Fortune will break from the rail against a field that includes the graded stakes winners Alphabet Kisses, Dream of Summer, Fencelineneighbor, and Yearly Report and the stakes winners Friel's for Real and Redoubled Miss.

Alphabet Kisses is part of a deep California-bred team that includes House of Fortune, Dream of Summer, and Yearly Report. Dream of Summer and Yearly Report combined to win eight stakes last year. Dream of Summer beat Yearly Report by a nose in the California Cup Matron in October over this track and distance.

Alphabet Kisses and Fencelineneighbor are trying to extend two-race winning streaks.

Alphabet Kisses won an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park on Dec. 3 before pulling an upset at 20-1 in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes over seven furlongs at Santa Anita on Dec. 27.

The upset in the La Brea encouraged trainer Marty Jones.

"I was a little surprised she'd won, but I thought she'd hit the board," Jones said. "I think everything went right that day."

The Florida-bred Fencelineneigh-bor won her first graded stakes in the Grade 3 San Gorgonio Handicap on a sloppy track on Jan. 8. Owned by Amerman Racing and trained by Mike Machowsky, she is likely to be near the front, a strategy that has led to 8 wins in 26 starts.

The field

Sunshine Millions Distaff
Purse: $500,000; 1 1/16 miles

1House of Fortune (CA)G. Stevens1207-2
2Alphabet Kisses (CA)V. Espinoza1206-1
3Dream of Summer (CA)M. Smith1227-2
4Mini Skirt (CA)K. Desormeaux12030-1
5Yearly Report (CA)J. Bailey1207-5
6Redoubled Miss (FL)T. Baze12220-1
7Scarlett Memories (FL)M. Pedroza12030-1
8Friel's for Real (FL)A. Castellano Jr.12212-1
9Sweet Lips (FL)R. Douglas12012-1
10Fencelineneighbor (FL)H. Jauregui12212-1

* Odds by Michael Hammersly
* Television: 4-6 p.m. Eastern NBC