09/16/2002 12:00AM

Little Lolitta a puzzler this year

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EDMONTON, Alberta - Last year at this time, Little Lolitta was on her way to coming both the top 3-year-old filly in the province and the top Alberta-bred.

Little Lolitta finished 2001 with five wins in 10 starts, including three stakes, earning $115,911 for her owners Don Gilkyson and Lorrilyn Brown.

Entering the 2002 Thoroughbred season in Alberta, Little Lolitta was expected to carry on where she left off, and it appeared she would do just that when she won at Stampede in her first start of the year, the $40,000 M.R. Jenkins Memorial in May.

Looking every bit as impressive as she did in any of her starts last year, Little Lolitta won by nine lengths and seemed poised for another outstanding year. But she lost her next four races.

Last Friday, when Little Lolitta was looking for just her second win on the year, in an allowance here for older fillies and mares, she lost her fifth straight.

A poor start had Little Lolitta scrambling from the beginning in a race that featured plenty of early speed.

Jockey Perry Winters had her stalking the lead by the time they hit the backstretch in the 6 1/2-furlong race, but the overexertion caught up with her by the time they hit the quarter pole.

Little Lolitta entered the top of the lane eight lengths behind the leader and wound up 14 lengths off surprise winner A Ray of Magic.

With just one month to go in the season, her owners don't have time to figure out what went wrong, but they'll have a long winter trying to figure out the enigmatic mare.

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