03/30/2010 11:00PM

Lady Alex tunes up for stakes

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Lady Alex zipped through an optional claimer and an allowance race in January and February so well that bettors rightfully expected the win streak to continue on March 4.

Lady Alex could only finish sixth, leaving trainer John Sadler slightly baffled.

"She might have bounced a little," he said.

Sadler is not concerned about that happening again when Lady Alex starts in a second-level optional $62,500 claimer over a mile at Santa Anita on Friday. He sees the race as a prep to the $125,000 B. Thoughtful Stakes at Hollywood Park on April 24.

"The timing is perfect," he said.

Owned by Tom Mankiewicz, Lady Alex has won 4 of 11 starts and $114,320. Her four wins have occurred since August; she was claimed for $40,000 from a maiden race at Hollywood Park last June.

Even though she has won twice this year, Lady Alex has not had the most productive 2010 of the eight fillies and mares in Friday's field. Pretty Unusual won the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes here on Jan. 17 and 13 days later was third in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf. In two subsequent starts, she has been fifth in both the Grade 2 Buena Vista and Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational handicaps.

Trainer Barry Abrams said Friday's race is too lucrative to pass. The race has a $52,000 purse, plus an additional $15,600 available for California-breds such as Lady Alex and Pretty Unusual.

"It's still almost a $70,000 purse, and if you include the breeder and stallion awards, it's like a $100,000 race," Abrams said. "The opportunity came up and we might as well run. She was due for a workout. I think she's getting better."

Mike Smith rides Pretty Unusual, replacing Chantal Sutherland, who relocates to Woodbine this weekend.

The race features one other winner at this meeting in Miss Silver Brook. Trained by Julio Canani, Miss Silver Brook won an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 2 and returned to run ninth in the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes on Feb. 14.

The outsider Shes a Real Keeper merits respect. She won an allowance race over a mile here in March 2009 and has made one start this year, finishing sixth in a sprint on Feb. 28. She has won two of her last four starts in two-turn races.