Updated on 09/17/2011 6:06PM

'Latenite' looks best

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Latenite Special looks to put a stranglehold on her status as queen of the 3-year-old filly New Mexico-bred set in Saturday's $125,000 La Coneja Stakes at Sunland. Latenite Special has nine opponents in the 5 1/2-furlong event for 3-year-old statebred fillies.

Trained by Mitch Lane, Latenite Special has won 5 of 8 starts. Latenite Special made an auspicious debut here in January, romping in a maiden race and being claimed. She didn't pay immediate dividends as she lost four straight here, but after a couple of months off, she resurfaced as a brand-new filly in a stakes at Albuquerque.

She romped by more than four lengths that day at 15-1, then came back Aug. 1 in a stakes at Ruidoso and again won clear. She was next seen in an allowance race against older New Mexico-bred distaffers at SunRay Park on Sept. 7, and had little trouble making it three straight.

Latenite Special, who races for Terence Baldwin, got another couple of months off after that. She reappeared in SunRay's Aztec Oaks on Nov. 2 and had little trouble confirming her place at the top of the pecking order among New Mexico-bred 3-year-old fillies. Regular rider Ken Tohill keeps the call Saturday.

Some familiar faces are ready to take another shot at her. Janna's Gold finished second to Latenite Special in the aforementioned stakes at Ruidoso. She recently returned with a fine runner-up effort in an allowance here Nov. 20, finishing just a neck behind Cutlass Cutie, another foe Saturday.

Cutlass Cutie, meanwhile, has also finished behind Latenite Special, in a race last winter that Latenite Special actually lost. Smorz finished fourth to Latenite Special in the Aztec Oaks, and recently came back to be a hard-charging third in an allowance sprint here.

The main challenge, however, may come from new shooter Hat Creek. Trained by Ben Torres, Hat Creek has done little wrong in her 5 career starts, with 3 wins and 2 seconds. She had a productive season at Sunland last winter and, after seven months off, returned here in the New Mexico Racing Commission Stakes on Nov. 13. She dueled early and tired, finishing second to Shemoveslikeaghost by more than five lengths. Considering it was Hat Creek's first run in many months, she is eligible to move forward.